When you think of hitting the road it brings excitement, happy thoughts and an idea of how the trip should go, but one thing we don’t often think about is taking care of our mental health when you’re traveling for long periods of time.
I’ve suffered from depression since I was a 15-year-old grieving for my father who had just died from a heart attack. One thing I’ve learned over these last 35 years is that you can’t ignore it and think it’s going to go away. Where you go it goes. Just look at these statistics:
According to Healthline It’s estimated that 16.2 million adults in the United States, or 6.7 percent of American adults, have had at least one major depressive episode in a given year.
There’s also GAD (Generalized Anxiety Disorder) and according to Medical News Today. GAD affects around 6.8 million people in the U.S. — or more than 3 percent of the country’s adults.
Keeping physically healthy usually gets top billing, but you’ve got to consider your mental health as well. You need to create a plan in case of emergency and you need to stick to that plan no matter what. The first thing you need to do is take into account how long you’re going to be on the road.
What kind of medicines you take will also delegate how that plan will look. Some meds need to be taken only in the morning, but some need to be taken morning and night and if you mix that up and your trip or even worse, your health, could be in jeopardy.
The first thing I did was to purchase a pill organizer to keep track of morning and evening medicines so that I can grab and go. Here’s the one I use:
I like it because it protects your medicine twice. It sucks to divide all of your medicine and then have it come open in your purse with pills piled up at the bottom with an errant paper clip and a Hall’s cough drop from the 1980s. With this one, the actual medicine box goes inside a larger one to keep them even more safe and secure.
IMPORTANT TIP: YOU MUST ALSO CARRY YOUR PILL BOTTLES OR YOU COULD BE ARRESTED!
What happens if your medicine gets lost? Healthgrades.com offers these tips:
IF YOU’RE IN THE US:
- Fill your prescriptions before you go. Bring enough medicine to last your whole trip plus a couple of extra days in case of travel delays.
- Copy your prescriptions and keep a copy with you.
- Know the generic names of all your prescriptions.
- Carry a letter from your doctor describing all your medical conditions and the medications you take.
- Make sure you know how to safely store your medications while traveling. Some drugs can be affected by extreme heat or cold.
- Carry your medications with you in their original bottles in your carry-on luggage. Don’t pack them in bags you plan to check.
IF YOU’RE ABROAD:
To find a doctor or clinic where you can get a new prescription, contact the nearest American embassy or consulate. Get contact information before you leave through the U.S. State Department. Another way to find a doctor or clinic abroad is to contact the International Association for Medical Assistance to Travelers.
Be aware that some prescriptions may be hard to refill in foreign countries. Newer medications might not be available. Foreign brands may have different doses. In some countries, a narcotic pain medication may even be illegal. In these cases, you may need to get in touch with your doctor at home to find out whether you can change your dose or use a substitute medication until you get home.
You may have to pay for these medications if they have to be replaced as your health insurance may not cover it. From my 101 Travel Tips For The Ultimate Road Trip: Always know the basics of your health insurance before you go.
Now that we’ve covered medications I’d like to talk about a few other ways to keep your mental health in check while you’re on the road. According to the National Alliance On Mental Health following these steps can help:
- Find time to relax
- Bring your favorite tunes
- Take time for exercise
- Stay hydrated
- Practice mindfulness
- Keep a journal
- Keep stressors to a minimal
- Bring something from home
By taking the time to create a plan and take medications consistently your next road trip will be a happy one!