Phone icon 612-223-8590
Envelope icon
Categories: Anxiety, Success Stories, TBI


Hi everyone. Welcome to Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) TB, brought to you by *Minnesota functional neurology (*MFNC is now The Functional Neurology Center.) I am Amy Zelmer and today we’re talking about traveling after traumatic brain injury. So I recently had somebody write to me asking if I would specifically talk about all the traveling I do and how I managed to travel with a traumatic brain injury. And I thought that that was a really good suggestion. Um, because I know a lot of people do follow my journey and they see me traveling and doing a lot of ag advocacy work. Um, and how, you know, how am I able to manage my time and my symptoms. So I wanted to share with you today some of what I do to help me with traveling. So first of all, um, most of my travel is via car. Um, most of my traveling I drive, I do a lot of road trips and I, the reason I don’t fly, people think I’m afraid to fly or I don’t want to fly because of the traumatic brain injury. Um, but it’s actually a lot simpler than that. It is because of pixie

No, she wants nothing to do with it. Um, but I have my little Yorkie and she travels everywhere with me. And so it is just so much easier to drive than to try to have to go through the hassle of flying with a pet. Um, so pixie is my little sidekick, my road trip companion. She’s a little five and a half pound York Shire terrier. Um, so if she comes over here, I will show her to you guys. Some of you are probably familiar with her if you follow me on Instagram or Facebook. Um, but that’s the really simple answer as to why I choose to drive. Um, I also really enjoy driving. Driving is very therapeutic to me unless I am in rush hour traffic driving through like Atlanta. Um, I don’t enjoy rush hour and heavy traffic at all, but for the most part I really enjoy driving and doing a road trip.

And I often, um, will program my GPS to take me like not via the freeway. Um, I like to get on side roads and just see the country. You guys, the U S is so incredibly beautiful and there’s so much to see. And traveling with a dog, especially a little dog, um, forces me to stop every two to three hours to let her out, to go potty. Um, therefore I get out and I walk and I’m always surprised when I’m driving, um, all day. And I still managed to get in four or 5,000 on my pedometer. Um, and that’s simply because I F it forces me to stop and get out and walk and, um, get the fresh air and maybe get a drink, um, get, get some hydration and use the restroom and get some food. So, um, that, that’s the first thing is I mostly drive.

Um, I’m, I’m very able to drive. I enjoy driving. Um, and it’s something I really enjoy doing. Like I said, driving is very therapeutic to me. Um, secondly, I really put a lot of thought into my timeline when I travel and in the beginning I didn’t do so good at managing this and I would get myself into trouble because I would use up all my energy. Um, but I have gotten much better at understanding how to manage my time. And for instance, my last road trip, I started out in Washington D C um, I attended the federal inter-agency conference on traumatic traumatic brain injury. And on the first day I attended the conference all day. And then the second day, Dr. Schmoe and I presented in the morning. And then I knew I was done. I was pretty much done and I already had all intentions of not attending the Wednesday programming.

Um, so I kind of knew in advance that I needed to, to tie myself like that. And then, um, following that I spoke at Argosy university and then I took three days off and just rested. I stayed with a friend and we did some sightseeing. We went out to eat, um, and I was able to sleep in and take naps. Um, and then I went and stayed with a different friend, um, for a few days and really got in some good RNR. And then I proceeded to continue on my trip. Um, and I did a keynote in Michigan. Um, so I always try to have more than one thing. I’m doing on a trip. Um, especially since I am driving. Um, you know, it takes a lot of time to get somewhere when you’re driving. It’s not like a plane, you know, you hop in the plane and you’re there and two hours, I mean, you know, it might take an entire day or two or three days.

Um, as is the case when I go out to Los Angeles, it takes me three days to get out there. Um, so I always try to plan things multiple speaking and advocacy things when I’m on a trip. Um, but I definitely plan in downtime, so I know if I’m speaking here, I know I’m going to need a day or two to recover from that. Or, um, you know, if, if I’m, um, presenting and attending a conference, I’m in even a little bit more time to recover from that. So I build recovery days into my trip. Um, the third thing, super critical, keep hydrated. Um, I can’t stress that enough. You know, I always have a water bottle with me. Um, I, uh, I, I use essential oil so I have um, lemon that I put in my water and I make sure that I have thieves on me at all times to keep the germs away.

Um, but hydration is critical. Um, when you have a traumatic brain injury, even when you don’t have a traumatic brain injury, it’s critical, but it’s more critical when you have a traumatic brain injury to stay hydrated. And I have learned to use a backpack. Um, that was hard for me cause I’m a really cute fashion, purse kinda gal. Um, but I have learned that a backpack just takes any stress off my neck and my shoulders. Um, and then I can have my water bottle in it and I have snacks. I always have a protein bar. I usually put two or three protein bars in my backpack just in case someone else might need one. That’s happened on more than one occasion. Um, I’ve helped somebody else out who was crashing, um, cause they hadn’t eaten. So I always have protein bars and water in my backpack. I always have snacks.

Um, nuts are really good snack. Um, when I travel before I leave, I hard boil some hard boil some eggs and I put them in my cooler. Those are great breakfast snack, um, when you’re on the road. And I really try to stay away from fast food unless it’s relatively healthy, fast food. Um, subway has a really great breakfast sandwich. Um, this relatively healthy egg, bacon, cheese. Um, breakfast when I’m traveling, when I’m at home, I’m not always great with breakfast, but no, I’m traveling. I make sure I eat breakfast. It’s really important when I’m traveling. Um, and then I bring all of my supplements. I’m with me. Um, I don’t take any medications except some allergy medication. Um, but I take all my supplements with me. I have a big Rubbermaid, well it’s not big. It’s like this big, it’s like a shoe box size Rubbermaid container.

I bring all my supplements with me. I have my little sheet written out, like which ones I take, what time of day. Um, I have a little pill case I take with me. So every night I get my, my vitamins all ready for when you need to take that evening. But then I also lay out the next day and I get them all ready for the next day. Um, so that I can take my morning ones right away in the morning. And then my daytime ones, I put them in a pill case and make sure that goes in my purse or my backpack. Um, I don’t always remember to take them during the day, but I do try my best and if I, if I forget, I don’t get too hard on myself. Um, but I take all my supplements with me. It’s another bonus to driving is you have more room to take things with you.

Um, and so supplements, hydration, um, snacks, having snacks, all those things are very important. And then like I said, scheduling the rest and recovery time is really, really, really important. And if you are flying and you kind of have to fly in, fly out, um, know that when you get home you’re going to need some rest and recovery days. And when I get home from a road trip, I literally take the whole week off. Or like if I get home in the middle of the week, I’ll take through the weekend off and I don’t have anything scheduled when I get home. Typically it’s just too hard. I know that I need that downtime to get rested and recovered from my trip. And um, if I’m on a longer trip, like I’m heading out West to Los Angeles and some other places here at the end of September and I’m going to be gone almost six weeks.

So that’s a really long time. Um, but I have a couple of weeks built in where it’s more just like Rast hanging out with some friends. Um, I’ve got speaking things, rest, speaking, things rest. Um, so it’s, it’s really critical to, to build the, the rest in. Personally, I’m traveling alone, just me and my Yorkie. Um, I have done several advocacy trips with friends. Um, but in general I’m, I’m by myself and personally that’s how I like it. I have the car, I can listen to audio books or I can listen to music or I can just drive in silence for hours. Just deepen my own thoughts. I do some of my best thinking when I’m in the car. I know it sounds kind of crazy. You know, a lot of people do their best thinking in the shower. For me it’s in the car. Um, but I do also enjoy having, um, some road trip time with friends and sometimes on my trips I’m alone.

And then I pick up a friend for a while and then I drop a friend off. So I have, you know, the best of both worlds. Um, but do whatever is best for you and you know yourself best. And if you attempt to do some traveling, um, and maybe for you traveling is just simply going on a vacation. It’s not even advocacy work or business. Um, but just know you’re gonna need the downtime. And for instance, let’s say you’re going on a family trip to Mexico and maybe there’s a larger group of you going and you’re sharing space with other people for seven days. Just the sharing space is exhausting and know that you need some alone time and you need some me time for self care and you know, be really upfront with people. And just say, okay, you know, I know this is what’s going on, but I’m going to need some time here, here and here.

Just just for me. I’m going to need to take a nap or I’m going to need to go for a walk, just alone, some quiet time and just be really upfront with people. And if you start fading, you need to know when to get up and say, okay, I need to go to or I need to take a nap or I just, I need to be lone right now. There’s just, it’s just too loud, too much going on. Um, so you really need to be aware of that or have someone with you who can, who knows what to watch on you. Um, like I know some of my, my traumatic brain injury TBI friends, I’ll be like, I think you need just to go lay down for a minute. Um, and they’re usually very receptive of that cause sometimes they don’t know. And if you don’t know, that’s going to be challenging for you traveling cause you need to be very self aware and know your needs and know how to do the self care.

And you know, you might not be ready to travel and that’s okay. I know it’s socks, but it’s okay. And so maybe you do a local vacation or a staycation. Um, those are just as important to your sanity and wellbeing as it is to do a big trip. Um, but I hope that my, my suggestions have helped. I hope that it’s helped, um, help you understand how I’m able to do it and I hope that these suggestions help you if you do choose to start traveling. So anyway, thank you for watching. I appreciate all of the love that these videos are getting. Please be sure to like, comment, share, I’m sharing is caring. The more we share these videos, the more it helps other traumatic brain injury survivors. So thank you all for watching and I’ll see you guys again in the next episode.


Amy Zellmer, Patient Advocate