Last summer, my husband Dave and I entertained the idea of taking Jordan, our 20 year old son with MSUD, on a European vacation. Our older son, Tyler, had had the opportunity to travel abroad during college and we felt that it would be great if Jordan had the opportunity also.

I admit that the logistics of planning a vacation outside the US was somewhat frightening initially. However, we have always believed that, as much as possible, MSUD should not limit Jordan’s life experiences. With that being said, his health and safety is always our first priority.

This past winter, we shared our plans with Jordan and, of course, he was excited about traveling to Europe. Jordan had studied French language, history, and culture for several years, so a trip to France seemed logical. After researching various tours, we chose an 8 day trip to Paris and the countryside of France.

In advance of our trip, I contacted Jordan’s metabolic specialist to obtain contact information for a metabolic doctor in Paris. In addition, I obtained a letter from his MD that briefly described MSUD and what supplies we would be traveling with on the plane, in hopes of avoiding delays through security. I also gathered MSUD literature including how to treat a metabolic episode.

Our travel agent contacted the tour company and informed them of Jordan’s medical condition, including the need for low protein foods and refrigerators at our hotels. And finally, Jordan had his branched amino acids drawn to ensure that he was in good metabolic control before our departure.

At the airport, we did not risk checking the bag that contained the MSUD powder and other supplies for making formula for fear that it could get lost and not arrive in Paris. Instead, Jordan carried that bag with him on the plane. He made enough formula for two days and also carried that in a small cooler on the plane, along with some protein free candy. Security at the Columbus, Ohio airport looked through his bags and waved litmus paper over his formula to ensure that it was safe to take on board. Overall, the process of getting through airport security went smoother than I had anticipated.

Our week in France went great with no medical issues or problems. I was concerned that lack of sleep and change in time zones may affect Jordan’s leucine level, but fortunately that was not the case. We enjoyed the beautiful city of Paris and many historical attractions outside of Paris.

Our tour director was especially helpful. She ensured that Jordan had appropriate food. Others on the tour group were jealous of the wonderful salads and vegetables that he was served.

Even though we were somewhat apprehensive about taking Jordan on a vacation outside the US, I am glad that we decided to move forward with our plans and allow Jordan the opportunity to travel to France. Hopefully, we will be able to take another trip abroad in the future.


The MSUD Family Support Group is currently funding several research projects and we are proactively looking for researchers interested in developing new treatments or finding a cure for MSUD. Significant funding is necessary if we are to accomplish this goal.
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