How to Travel Lightly with Parkinson’s

Oxford Summer Experience 2017–My Meadows Double Gothic Window Stone Balcony at Christ Church

My packing philosophy is: Keep it light. You may have to lift it.

However, I have slowly evolved. Flashback to Paris when I was twenty-six-years old. When a taxi met us at Orly Airport, our luggage would not fit in the trunk without tying it shut. The driver was not amused! Our gold metal Halliburton luggage was heavy without contents. I had packed a different outfit for each day. My GQ partner was not far behind. What were we thinking? One leg of our journey we took a train to Portmeirion, Wales, only to discover a 1.5 mile walk into the village while dragging pre-spinner luggage!

I have not given up airplane travel since my Parkinson’s diagnosis. From 2014 through 2017, I went on sixteen trips. It is possible to lightly pack a two-week trip to England in a 25” suitcase and happily lift it, if necessary! So how do I?

Select the right clothing

First, I go shopping in my closet to consider the 4-C’s

25″ Samsonite weighs around 8 pounds before packing

  • Color—black and blue, my travel favorite, hides spots
  • Content of Fabric—lightweight, rolls up small, does not wrinkle
  • Coordination—a few pieces create multiple looks
  • Comfort—appropriate for weather changes and activities

The final wardrobe selections are made several days before a trip. My rule is the item has to be worn at least twice, unless a special occasion.

eBag cubes save space and simplify packing

Two days before departure, I roll the clothing and place in three packing cubes in suitcase. I save suitcase space by wearing a jacket with the added bonus of being comfortable in airports and planes. Walking shoes are worn and provide stable sturdy support for my travel day. The departure outfit is repeated on the return trip.

Limit accessories and toiletries

I love these space saving eBag packing cubes

As for accessories, I simplify. The only jewelry I take is what I wear which includes a classic gold bracelet, two rings, watch, brooch, and pearl earrings. One infinity scarf adds punch. One pair of flat shoes and one pair of strappy sandals are allowed. Toiletries and basic make-up and skin care are packed in travel size containers. Yes, I can survive on one tube of lipstick, blush, sun screen moisturizer, mascara, and night skin cream. A rain slicker or denim jacket and umbrella are packed in an outside pocket.

Select the right tote bag and pack it lightly

My go to cross body Baggallini bags, super lightweight

Prior to PD, I traveled with a tote bag and a handbag. Now it’s one too many things to maneuver. A medium sized lightweight nylon cross body Baggallini tote bag, with a zipper closure and inside/outside pockets works best. I can easily access tip money, credit card, identification, and travel documents in outside pockets.

The inside contents of the tote include essentials: medicine, Parkinson’s ID card, collapsible cup, pen, pencil, spiral 5×7 notebook, paperback book, lip stick, lip balm, comb, tissues, insurance card, phone, charger, camera, and snacks. I keep a master list of items  for future trips. My hobo bag is packed in suitcase.

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry is quoted as “he who would travel happily must travel light.” It sure works for me.

Keep it light! Keep it simple! Keep on traveling!

Question: What are your packing tips for air travel? I’d love to hear from you.




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    • Janice Rowan on August 22, 2018 at 9:02 pm
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    Great practical and common sense tips for packing that have arrived in the nick of time for my trip to Canada next month! These are a much appreciated lifeline, rescue aid and intervention measure for a notorious serial overpacker! Can’t thank you enough!🌷

    1. Hi Janice, I hope you have a fabulous trip to Canada as well as a stress-free time getting ready. When I approach packing as a game to see how little I really need to take to look great, and yet be prepared for different activities/weather, the process is fun!

    • Karen Bryson on August 23, 2018 at 7:54 am
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    Great Packing Tips Linda! I wasn’t familiar with packing cubes before reading this article. I believe in keeping it simple too.
    Another thing you mentioned that I’m not familiar with is a Parkinson’s ID card. Would you explain a little more, I can see where this would come in handy.

    1. Hi Karen, I have rolled my clothes for years, but the packing cubes take the process to a whole new level. Your clothes stay neat and orderly and you can see at a glance what you want to take out and wear (rather than lifting through layers of clothes). It is a little card carried in wallet stating I have PD and am not intoxicated, has emergency and medical info. I got it from World Parkinson Coalition a few years ago. There are different versions around and I will research them and provide up-to-date info.

  1. […] Thanks to Karen at K Bryson Art The Way I See It for asking for further ID card information after seeing the blog How to Travel Lightly with Parkinson’s. […]

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