Travel with a Chronic Condition
A chronic condition often complicates everyday life. Throw in the additional variables that come with travel, and those with ongoing medical concerns may feel that traveling anywhere is out of reach. However, there are more and more ways that companies are helping the medically complex get the most out of any travel and vacation experience.
Find out the health and safety concerns at your destination. This includes the usual vaccinations that every traveler will need to get in advance, the location of the nearest hospital or urgent care at your destination(s), and how your medical or health insurance works aboard. Consider buying additional insurance that covers health care and emergency evacuation if you find gaps in your current coverage.
Have a plan of how to coordinate care while away from your usual support system. Does the person traveling with you understand your condition(s) and medications? Is there someone at home who can access medical or other records should you need it?
Be sure to bring
If you plan to travel for more than 30 days, talk to your doctor and insurance provider about getting enough medication to last your entire trip. Carry all medications and medical supplies in their original packaging, if possible. Having your written prescription(s) on-hand can also be helpful, especially if you need a refill while away. If you can, bring a little extra medication, just in case. A doctor’s note explaining your need for any medical devices that might cause a delay at security checkpoints is always a smart idea.
Carrying a card or medical ID with information about your condition, including any allergies, and instructions for how to care for you should you be unresponsive, can be lifesaving. If you’re traveling to a country that doesn’t speak English, make sure to have all of this information in the local language.
Be sure any medications you can’t go without come with you on the plane in your carry on.
Other things to pack in your carry on:
- Refillable water bottle
- Special pillows
- Muscle relaxants, topical creams, ice packs or heating pads, anti-inflammatory medication
- Insurance cards
If flying is part of your travel plans, consider signing up and paying for TSA pre-check. This guarantees a quicker, seamless process at security checkpoints. The TSA Cares Helpline (toll-free at 855-787-2227) can also provide information on how to prepare for the airport security screening process if you have a disability or medical condition.
Did you know that medical bags fly for free with several airlines? Ask your airline if they provide this service and then follow their instructions. Mark your checked bag with a medical tag. Ask the check-in counter for early access to seats, so you can take your time getting comfortable without facing a line of impatient passengers behind you.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) ensures that all public accommodations in the United States must comply with basic nondiscrimination policies, providing:
- Barrier-free rooms and bathrooms
- Barrier-free access both inside and outside of the building
- Rooms designated for people with disabilities who need these accommodations
- Raised toilet seats
- Grab bars
- Tub chairs
- Walk-in showers
- A refrigerator in your room for medical purposes, if requested (and they can’t charge you extra for this!)