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Planning a holiday by an MS mummy

Joanne Chapman

There’s so much to think about when planning a holiday. Stay in the UK or go abroad? Relax by the pool, or explore a new city? Throw MS symptoms like heat sensitivity into the mix and it gets even more complicated. And if you’ve got children too, you might feel like you’re faced with a hundred decisions before you even set off.

Joanne lives in York with her husband and toddler – her little man. These are her top tips for stress-free holiday planning.

Know your most important factors

Mine are my little man and that I don't like travelling for too long. So I try to cut the time from locking our home to unlocking our accommodation (I call this "key to key"). When an invite to a family wedding landed on our doormat, I thought: "Let's organise the holiday around the wedding". That way, the travel to the wedding is part of the travel to the holiday.

Hot or not

Heat can play havoc with MS symptoms. Don't give up on going abroad but research the weather before you book and choose a destination that suits you. If you’re going abroad with a little one, plan what they’ll need in advance (such as passports, insurance and immunisations). We are self catering in the UK, so I’ll be hoping for good weather!

Self catering vs hotel

For us, the main advantage of self catering is having freedom over what we eat and drink, and when. If we don’t get a good night’s sleep, we can have a lie in without needing to worry about missing breakfast. And I can bring food that I know little man will eat. This year's development milestones (potty training and big bed) might also be easier! Of course, if you do choose a hotel or B&B, you won’t have to do the cleaning, make beds or cook. Bliss. Hotels also usually have planned entertainment, helpful if you’re hit by brain fog. If you go for self catering, think in advance about what activities you’ll do – rain or shine.

Accessible accommodation

Little man and I aren't brilliant on steps so I chose ground floor accommodation. Hotels don't necessarily mean steps, but not knowing is a headache, unless you choose an accessible spot. Whichever accommodation you go for, look for an equipment list to check you’ll have everything you need – things like a booster seat, microwave, kettle, washer dryer and suitable bathroom. If I holidayed abroad, I'd look for air conditioning, ceiling fans and nearby swimming pools.

Sticking to a budget

If you’re thinking about a self catering holiday, don’t forget you’ll need to budget for extra costs on top of travel and accommodation. If you research other costs, such as local attractions, and set a ‘donkey ride’ fund for extras (like ice creams and souvenirs), hopefully costs won't spiral out of control. If you choose a package holiday, make sure you understand what's included (such as transfers, snacks and alcohol).

Learn from others

I was reassured by asking for recommendations on social media and reading reviews before I booked. If you are like me, the more you organise your holiday with your needs in mind, the sooner your holiday can begin.