Seven Tips for Travelling with Chronic Medical Conditions

Even though you may have a chronic medical condition, you shouldn’t put off dreams of travelling around the world when you retire. As long as a doctor clears you for travel, you can plan holidays abroad and travel by air. If you do wish to travel after retiring, here are seven tips that can help you fulfil your dream.

Get Approval from GP

Before booking tickets for a trip, you should consult with your GP about your travel plans. He or she will study your medical history and probably do a thorough examination to reassess your condition. Although your GP may clear you to travel, he or she may recommend restrictions depending on your current condition.

If you plan to travel by air, it is important to be aware of air travel restrictions for people with medical conditions. An airline can refuse service to people with conditions that may worsen during a flight. They often recommend that people with these conditions do not fly:

  • Chest pains when resting.
  • Infectious diseases.
  • Decompression sickness from diving.
  • Sinus infections.
  • Intracranial pressure.
  • Chronic respiratory disease.
  • Sickle cell anaemia.

Since this isn’t a complete list, you should have your GP write a letter clearing you for travel when you are booking a trip, especially when you are also obtaining travel insurance.

Purchase Travel Insurance

If you’re traveling within the United Kingdom, you will not need travel insurance if you become ill or get injured while on holiday. NHS will help you pay for any medical expenses incurred on your holiday. However, if you’re planning to travel abroad, you should get a medical travel insurance policy in case something does happen.

Some medical travel insurance companies may not sell you a travel policy if you have a chronic illness and the price for a policy may be higher if you are 50 or older. However, some companies offer travel insurance policies specifically for people who have certain medical conditions. You can compare the coverage and price for travel insurance policies as well as add-on policies for elderly travellers and those with certain medical problems by visiting the website for Medical Travel Compared.

Some of the chronic medical conditions for which there may be add-on policies include diabetes, cancer, heart conditions, asthma, HIV, and epilepsy.

Get Appropriate Vaccinations

If you plan on going on holiday to a more exotic location such as Africa, Southeast Asia, or South America, you should contact the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. They can provide any travel alerts regarding health issues that may have been issued and tell you which vaccinations are needed.

When consulting your GP about travel plans, ask him or her about the vaccinations that are recommended and whether you can have them due to your condition and the medications you take. If your GP recommends that you don’t have the vaccinations, then you should reconsider your travel plans.

Avoid Travel Stress

Stress can worsen health conditions so you should plan ahead when traveling to avoid it. Give yourself plenty of time to pack your bags before leaving for holiday instead of rushing around the night before your flight. Make a checklist of the clothing, medications, toiletries, and other items that you want to take with you so nothing is forgotten.

If you’re in a wheelchair, arrange for early boarding and assistance with your wheelchair with the airline. If you are on a special diet, let the airline know so that they can arrange special meals for you. Making these arrangements will reduce your travel anxiety and the stress for other passengers as well as the airline workers.

Check Medications

Some of the medications that you’re able to take in the UK may not be available in other countries or they may be banned. Check your prescriptions against the list of banned substances in the country where you will be traveling and, if some of your medications are banned, ask your GP to prescribe an alternative medication that isn’t. You should also ask for a letter explaining the necessity of taking medications to manage your health condition.

Take enough medication to last throughout your trip. This may require getting additional medications in case you’re going to be gone for an extended amount of time. If you’re going to put your medications in a carry-on bag, put them in a clear plastic case on top of the bag so customs can see them and check them quickly.

Write down the list of medications you take in case they get lost or stolen so you then can go to a pharmacist to get them replaced. Also, when purchasing travel insurance, make sure that the policy will cover the replacement costs for your prescriptions. You may wish to take copies of prescriptions from your doctor as well in case you need to buy replacements.

Take it Easy

When traveling, don’t rush around and try to do too much when sightseeing. Take your time and relax when touring a city or country so that you can avoid additional stress. Try to take the day before and the day after travelling to rest and recoup so you will be ready to sightsee, try new foods, and have fun during your holiday.

Eating on Holiday

Although you may want to experience the foods of different cultures, eat them sparingly as you don’t know how your stomach will react or how they may interact with your medications. The last thing you want is to come down with stomach problems and/or diarrhoea while travelling.

Drinking the water in another country can sometimes affect your digestive tract so drink bottled water instead to avoid getting ill. It is also a good idea for older travellers to take bottles of water with them while sightseeing so they stay hydrated while walking or hiking in a city or the countryside.

With these seven tips, you should be able to travel to almost anywhere you wish, no matter your physical condition. As long as your GP approves your travel plans, you can go visit friends and family or travel to countries where you’ve never been to fulfil your lifelong dream of travelling abroad.



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