Ready to hit the open road or hop on the plane to head to that tropical island or that world-renowned national park? Not until you’ve secured everything revolving around your chronic illness.
Living with a chronic illness can be quite challenging. One may question: “Will I ever be able to travel?” The mind starts to race with a million questions. “What happens if I’m midway in the car or on the plane and a seizure happens?” “What if I need to go to the hospital?” “Am I well enough to travel?”
The short answer, yes you definitely can travel with a chronic illness! With the proper planning, and consultation, travel is possible!
When I was first diagnosed with epilepsy, my concern was not the inability to travel but what would happen if I was at the vacation location and a seizure happened. I’ve been fortunate that with enough planning to stay relatively healthy during my travels. However, there have been a few trips where I’d had a seizure. It didn’t make the vacation any less incredible because I was prepared.
Here are my tips for planning your trip even if you have a chronic illness:
1. Consult with your doctor
Before your vacation, it is important that you consult with your doctor. Get a checkup and tell them where you’re going. It can be a chance to renew any prescriptions.
It’s also a good idea to laminate a list of the medication you take, dosage, and your condition, should you need to reference this information while you’re away. Include your emergency contacts, too.
If you have a medical ID bracelet, be sure to wear it during your travels.
2. Bring a Doctor’s Note
You might not need it, but carrying a doctor’s note that details why you have certain supplies and medications in your luggage can be incredibly helpful. Maybe you have a device that is detected by an airport scanner—a note could be handy while preventing a lengthy stint standing to the side while they thoroughly sort through your things.
3. Organize Prescriptions and Supplies Accurately
Always keep prescription medication in their original bottles and place them in a secure ziplock bag.
With having a chronic illness, you also need to make sure you bring all of these essential items that help to manage your illness:
- Baby Aspirin
- Ice packs
- Emergency medication
Think about your condition when it’s in remission or on your best days, as well as when you have a seizure. Be sure your list covers everything you might possibly need.
Whether you’re packing up vital medication or personal supplies, one important thing to do is make sure that you have enough.
You may be able to buy what you need at your destination (be sure to check!), but it’s easier to avoid the trouble and pack enough for your trip, plus some to spare if you have the room in your carry-on.
A few extra tips:
- Always check the medication laws in the country you’ll be visiting. In certain countries, some medications are considered illegal.
- Refill any medications that are running low or bring extra scripts with you. This way you’ll ensure you’ll have enough during your vacation.
- Always keep your medications with you. DON’T pack them in your checked luggage. All medication MUST go in your carry on or purse.
4. Check Luggage for Free
Medical bags fly free with airlines like Delta, so you can check luggage containing supplies necessary for your condition, without paying a dime. Be sure that anything essential stays in your carry on of course. And mark the checked bag with a medical tag, which can be found on Amazon for various conditions. For example, it could say “Medical Supplies—Insulin Inside”.
5. Ask About Airline Assistance
Call the airline ahead of your flight to let them know if you need special assistance. No need to detail your condition—airlines will work to accommodate those that may need a little extra help due to a medical need. It’s important to stay with your travel partner since they know what to do in an emergency. Some airlines will ensure your seats are together without an extra fee. Try to unwind after you have everything planned to the best of your ability, and just have fun.
Your chronic illness doesn’t need to rule your vacation. The most important thing is being prepared, and then focus on having a great time!
Following these important steps is the foundation for planning a trip you will enjoy, despite any chronic health issues.