Because I am a non-competitive body builder who also travels a great deal, I have to be well-prepared for my trips. The program I follow requires that I eat 5 to 7 meals a day.

Many people have asked me why I keep a cooler in my car – it contains all my food. The length of the trip determines how much food I carry with me. If I don't eat every 2 hours or so, bad things happen and I get really tried. It messes up my training program badly.

I even carry back-up food just in case something comes up and I am unable to eat the right foods. I call ahead to my destination to make certain that any restaurants I go to have the right kind of food that I can eat. That is, of course, unless I have a 'free' day where I can eat anything I want.

Sometimes I avoid certain places because it doesn't work with my training. It may sound like this is a pain in the rear end, but it is not. After all these years of working my program, I think on autopilot. I am dedicated to following this program.

So, what does this have to do with Bipolar Disorder? The tips I have learned about traveling while following my program made me think about how people who have Bipolar Disorder or those who support someone with Bipolar Disorder should think ahead and prepare for traveling.

It can be really important to be prepared or your program for managing Bipolar Disorder can be messed up badly. Here are some things to consider when traveling:

1. Make certain you have enough medication with you for the duration of your trip. Don't get in a situation where you do not have the prescribed medications and have to try to obtain some out of town.

2. Plan for what would happen if you should lose your medication.

3. How do you get in contact with your doctor and/or therapist in case of an emergency?

4. If you are a supporter, do you have contact information for where your loved one is traveling? Can you reach them if an emergency arises?

5. Do you have a list of medications that you normally take daily in case you are in an accident and need to have emergency medical care but can't tell them what you take?

6. Do you have contact information so that in an emergency your supporters could be contacted? It is best to place in your wallet or purse, wherever you keep your ID, a piece of paper that contains the information of where you are coming from and going to with contact information for both ends.

7. Have you taken precautions so that you can not access excessive money should an episode occur? It is never a good idea to carry a bunch of credit cards when experiencing the stress of traveling.

8. Do you have a clearly mapped out route so that you do not experience the frustration of becoming lost and confused. This alone can be enough to throw you into an episode.

9. Have you talked to your counselor or doctor to determine if they feel that traveling is a good idea for you at this time? If you have recently changed medications or have recently had an unstable period, it can sometimes be best to avoid travel. Talk to your health care providers before you go.

10. If you are a supporter and are traveling without your loved one who has Bipolar Disorder, does your loved one know how to contact you at all times should an emergency arise?

11. If you are a supporter and traveling without your loved one, do you have someone that will check in with your loved one every day to be certain they are alright?

Before you travel, think about all these things. And, if a person is going through a manic episode, think twice about traveling at all. Just say no. Remember your safety is most important.

Remember I also said that sometimes I will not go to certain places because it doesn't work with my training. Actually this happens a lot. I rarely go to parties where there's a ton of drinking or people way out of control. Perhaps you should avoid these events as well.

I am only 30 so I have a number of friends who do this kind of thing. Actually as a side note, I have never had a drink of alcohol in my life.

Think about these important tips when you are preparing to travel and while traveling, whether you are a supporter or survivor of Bipolar Disorder.