Have you been hit for six thanks to some type of medical diagnosis? It’s never a pleasant experience, especially when you were previously fit and healthy. You will inevitably wonder about the impact it will have on your life or the things you might not be able to do that you enjoyed before.
But there can be a positive side to a diagnosis, especially if you were previously unwell. It means you and your doctors know what is going on, and how to deal with it. You can get the right treatment. Your symptoms can be managed.
But what about travel? What about going on that vacation?
Well, with the right support, being diagnosed with a medical condition shouldn’t mean you have to miss anything in life. Including travel. Traveling with a medical condition is totally possible and we know the top 6 tips for making your trip an amazing experience!
Thinking of the Worst Case Scenario
Some people fear their days of action-packed overseas holidays or globe-trotting adventures are over as soon as it’s confirmed they have a medical condition. They worry about risks and complications connected to that condition. They worry about having to wade through mountains of red tape just to make it onto the plane.
Most of these concerns are pointless. Sure, you might have to cut back on the solo jungle treks, or the extreme adrenaline sports a little. But with a well-managed medical condition, that doesn’t have to be the case. Nothing is stopping you from enjoying trips away and going on those dream holidays just like everybody else.
Oh, and that red tape issue just to get away – it’s not all that bad. There are a few things to consider, sure. But with a little forethought and planning, it’s far from enough to put anyone off enjoying a holiday.
Here are 6 tips for traveling with a medical condition:
1. Talk to your doctor
If you have any concerns about traveling with a medical condition, the first thing you should do is consult your doctor. In fact, it’s a good idea anyway.
They will be honest and tell you if they don’t think you are well enough to travel. They will also offer advice about any precautions to take and talk you through any arrangements you need to make for the journey (such as oxygen tanks on flights for respiratory conditions, assisted access, etc.). Also, they can prescribe any medication you need to take with you.
2. Think about your destination
Depending on the specifics of your condition and the extent of any symptoms it is causing, you might need to consider the place you want to travel to.
For example, high temperatures create extra risks for people suffering from heart disease, because your body has to work harder to keep cool. You therefore might be safer choosing somewhere milder and a little more comfortable than visiting a hotter climate.
The length of flight is something else to consider. Traveling puts your body under stress at the best of times, but if you suffer from high blood pressure, longer flights can increase the chances of developing deep vein thrombosis.
In this case, Short-haul flights are a safer option.
Finally, do some research about your destination, and don’t forget your accommodation before you book. If you need mobility assistance, for example, what are the public transport options for getting around? How long does it take to walk to the beach or local amenities, and are the routes suitable if you use a walking aid or a wheelchair?
Being prepared for any eventuality when it comes to travel should hopefully mean everything goes off without a hitch.
3. Make sure you have enough medication
It’s important to get prescriptions dispensed before you go, so you can take all medication with you. That will avoid any potential complications in getting the meds you need while you are abroad.
Medications often go by pharmaceutical brand names, which can differ from country to country. So handing over a prescription to a pharmacist at your destination is no guarantee they will recognize what you need. Also, would you then feel confident that you had the correct thing?
That is why it’s best to take steps to ensure this is not a problem.
Still, it’s worth taking a prescription with you, just in case you lose your meds en route. Talk to your doctor about providing a letter explaining what the prescribed medications are and what they are for, as this will help clear up any confusion.
With certain types of medication, e.g. opioid painkillers, you will also need a signed doctor’s letter to avoid any problems with border authorities. Different countries have different restrictions on these and other types of medication.
Once again, preparing for a potential problem will hopefully mean you never have to actually deal with it.
4. Contact your airline
It is always a good idea to let your airline know about your medical condition. That might be to ask for assistance through the airport and when boarding the plane, to request an oxygen canister during your flight if you have breathing difficulties, or to give an aircrew advance warning if there is any risk of you experiencing a medical crisis during the flight. You may also need permission to take certain medications and medical equipment into the cabin with you for use during the flight.
5. Get the right travel insurance
One thing to be aware of is that once you have been diagnosed with a medical condition, you won’t be able to take out standard travel insurance. This is because the medical schedule of standard policies only covers medical emergencies and accidents. Anything to do with a pre-existing condition is considered a known risk, not an emergency.
That means you’ll have to take out medical travel insurance instead. These are policies designed to provide cover for specific conditions, including any treatments associated with those conditions. Be careful when shopping around – mainstream providers often charge sky-high premiums for medical travel policies. But if you look for a provider that specializes in medical travel insurance, you are likely to get a better price and a better standard of cover tailored to your needs.
6. Know your options if you do fall ill
Finally, it’s good advice to be prepared in advance, just in case you fall ill and need medical attention while you are away. Look up hospitals and clinics at your destination, and carry contact details for your own doctor back home with you. It will be helpful to medical professionals if they can contact your own doctor as they treat you.
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