Travelling with MdDS and Food Allergies/Intolerance: Flying

Oh, flying. I don't enjoy it. I never have.

Factor in the Mal de Debarquement {MdDS} and the lack of food choices, and I was left feeling pretty nervous about what to anticipate.

Luckily {??}, I had been able to take one 'test flight' prior to our longer, overseas adventure. We had an overnight trip in March for my husband's company where we flew into Portland, Oregon on what I respectfully call a puddle jumper. The test flight had gone smoothly, but the after-effects of the MdDS were pretty strong. I spent a couple of days flat on my back afterward waiting for the worst of the dizziness to pass.

Anyway, our cruise was scheduled to set sail from Barcelona on the third of May. Early, early May 2nd, we headed to the airport and flew five hours to Philadelphia. From Philly, we headed out over the ocean and directly into Barcelona.

My carry-on bag included my daily medications {allergy meds, plus my new homeopathic vertigo remedy}, a pair of Sea-Bands, a pair of EarPlanes, and snacks. Lots and lots of snacks! 

The Food Stuff:
I made sure to eat a decent breakfast before boarding, but I knew it wouldn't hold me over for long. I eat small amounts all through the day, as I find that I'm generally happier if I can snack my way {healthily} through life rather than sit down to three big meals each day. So, what was in my snack stash?

Justin's Nut Butters {love the individual packets! I brought a variety of flavors}
Enjoy Life Chewy Bars
LARABAR {more on this later!}
A bag of allergy-friendly granola {Udi's!!}
Peppermint and black tea bags
A mix of my favorite peppermints and ginger candies {I really have motion issues, and these help}
Small, single-serve almond milk beverages {I learned that 'declaring' your food allergies will get these gems through security!}

To supplement all of these bars and things, I knew I would be able to find fruit and a salad in the airports, and that is exactly what I did. I brought a banana along with me from home and ate it, slathered with a packet of Justin's peanut butter, for a mid-morning snack.

While we were in Philadelphia, I found a salad stand that allowed me to choose my toppings. There wasn't much to choose from, and even the oil and vinegar was a no-go {soybean oil, gross!}, so my salad was 'dry,' but it got me through my day. I grabbed another banana for its portability and carried it on to the second flight.

On the return flights, I collected more fruit and made do. I was sick coming home {a yucky cough/cold--not related to the MdDS or to my food choices} and didn't really want much food, so I simply made sure to keep hydrated.

My choices were somewhat limited, but it worked, and with minimal effort. Food was served on the international flights, but I obviously didn't eat any of it. I understand that the airlines can accommodate some dietary needs, but I preferred not to deal with the what-ifs.

The MdDS Stuff:
There isn't much that can be done in preparation for travel. From what I've learned, it's all a gamble. A MdDS patient may or may not have trouble with flying {or other motion}, and the only way to find out is through trial and error.

Because I'm so sensitive to motion, I wear a pair of Sea-Bands religiously. They really do help! The ginger candies and peppermints also really help when I'm feeling yucky.

And the EarPlanes? I recommend those for anyone! The MdDS has made my ears very sensitive to popping and pressure changes, and it's a discomfort I simply prefer to avoid. Wearing EarPlanes at take-off and landing helped me avoid the feeling all together. They're great!

I kept my homeopathic vertigo remedy {called VertigoHeel; and still new to me... I really think it is helping!} on hand and took it three times a day as I usually do. It can also be used as a 'rescue remedy,' and extra may be taken when you're really feeling the effects.

So, when all was said and done, I'd call our flights successful. Of course it would have been nice to be able to eat a hot meal like the rest of the plane, but I'm certainly not scarred for life as a result of missing out. I simply tried to plan my snacking for 'meal times,' so that I didn't feel as though I was sitting and watching my hubby eat.


  1. Hi Cristina, My name is Diogo, 28 y-old, I am a brazilian young guy also dealing with this syndrome. My symptoms begun about 5 months ago after a boat trip, and I am really scared of taking a flight overseas. Actually my girlfriend will present a paper in a conference at Nice, France, and I thougth it would be a good chance to "test" my symptoms after an air travel and of course try to enjoy the French Riviera´s beauty. Tell me more about your experience. When you landed at Philly, what did you feel? The symptoms got worse or stayed at the same level? And when you got to Barcelona, what´s the main sensations? Did you have fun the whole trip? Instead of you, I love air flights, airplanes, everything related to travel. When I was diagnosed, one of my first fears was not being able to travel anymore. Thank you!

    1. Hello! Thanks for taking the time to leave a note. Let me see if I can answer some of your questions...

      -When we first landed in Philly, I don't remember any major trouble. I was concerned about the crowds, the fluorescent lighting, etc., but was pleasantly surprised not to experience any "surge" of symptoms, if you will. Our layover was a brief one, so I didn't really have much time to settle in and dwell on what I might be feeling.

      -When we landed in Barcelona, I was also relieved to feel pretty good! There was a terrible back-up at customs, and the crowded hallways were a bit overwhelming, but I think that's par for the course. I lived to tell about it, and felt great when I walked outside into the fresh air.

      -During our trip, my symptoms were also very mild. I did have a couple of rough evenings on the cruise ship, but that part won't matter much for your trip.

      -Coming home was a bit different, but I blame that on having caught a nasty cold/flu bug. That always amplifies my symptoms, as does being overly tired. I slept a lot and just remembered that it would be over soon.

      So, overall, it was SO MUCH BETTER than what I anticipated. What a relief! I learned a lot about myself and my bravery during the trip, and came home feeling more positive about having MdDS. You might experience some more symptoms when you return home, so you might consider scheduling in a couple of rest days immediately after your return.

      My last piece of advice, and I know I've said it before, DON'T READ ON THE PLANE!!


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