Traveling with chronic conditions

Don’t let chronic disease ruin your travel plans.

As the holidays approach, many of us will be embarking on travels, some may even be heading abroad. Although traveling can be an enjoyable, relaxing experience, it requires a great deal of planning, especially if you have a chronic disease. With adequate planning your vacation can be rewarding and safe, regardless of your underlying medical conditions. Below we will review some of the things to consider when planning for a vacation with a chronic disease, suggested by Michigan State University Extension.

The first thing to do when you have decided to take a vacation is to make an appointment with your primary care physician. Try to schedule this appointment at least four to six weeks before departure to allow time for possible immunizations or tests you may need, depending on your destination. While you are at your appointment, ask for a letter from your health care provider outlining existing medical conditions, current treatments and any medications or equipment needed to manage your chronic condition. Also get paper copies of all of your prescriptions, make sure they are dated to last until you return from your travels. Talk to your doctor about any possible drug interactions of your chronic disease medications with medications you may need during your travels, such as anti-diarrheal or malaria chemoprophylaxis. Discuss a plan for managing minor problems or exacerbations of chronic illness that may be brought on by the stress of traveling. See if your doctor has a list of approved medical facilities in your destination countries.

Other things to consider include supplemental insurance. Think about insurance related to trip cancellation in the event of an illness, supplemental insurance for health care abroad since most policies do not cover medical services provided in other countries, as well as medical evacuation insurance to ensure you can get home in the case of a medical emergency occurring during your travels.

As you begin to pack your things, make sure you have all of your medications in their original containers, packed in your carry on. Make sure to pack extra in case there are unexpected delays. Have the paper copies of your prescriptions as well as a list of all phone and fax numbers for all of your health care providers available in your carry on. Consider wearing a medical alert bracelet and carrying your medical information on you. Think of other things that will allow you to get adequate rest and comfort to make your trip smooth and uneventful.

Although chronic conditions require more planning, there is no reason to let them ruin your travel plans. Make a good plan and take a great trip. Happy Travels!