Learn planning and preparation tips for traveling with health issues
By Kellie Norris, MSN RN
Traveling can be a daunting experience for people with health conditions. These vacationers must consider their medical needs to ensure a safe and comfortable journey. Nonetheless, travelers should not let their pre-existing conditions or medications keep them from traveling anywhere they want. From planning the trip to packing for it, this blog post will offer valuable advice on making traveling with health issues or conditions easier.
Safety measures travelers with health issues should take
Considerations for travelers with health issues or conditions include extra precautions. Most importantly, they should research their destination before arriving and be aware of local health risks, including possible infectious diseases, air quality, and food safety. It’s crucial to check for local hospitals, emergency departments, and medical clinics, especially in remote areas.
- Travelers with a chronic illness should carry a medical alert card or jewelry indicating their condition and any necessary information a stranger or health care professional would need to take care of them.
- People with chronic health conditions should also keep a list of medications and doses with them at all times, especially while traveling. The medication list should include prescribed medications, supplements, and vitamins.
- The traveler should also be aware of possible travel-related infections or complications related to their illness, such as altitude change effects on breathing or circulatory complications from long periods of sitting.
- If your travel plans lead to countries with different languages, knowing medical terms and phrases related to your condition is vital. Some of these phrases include how to ask for help and medical assistance, and the health conditions or medications in the language of your destination.
Another thing to consider is possible evacuation plans if disasters occur. If you require special equipment like a wheelchair or crutches, or if party members have disabilities, stairs may be unsafe or difficult. Travelers with these conditions can request a room on the ground floor or close to an exit for a safer evacuation plan.
Are there special considerations to make when packing for a trip with health issues?
When traveling with health issues, it’s essential to consider which medications you need to bring and how much. Healthcare providers or specialists can help decide what and how many medications and medical supplies to pack for the trip and address any other health concerns the traveler has. Don’t hesitate to discuss your healthcare concerns with your provider before traveling if you have health issues.
In addition, pack any medical equipment you may need, such as a wheelchair, crutches, breathing machines, or an oxygen tank. Pack any special dietary needs, such as gluten-free snacks or low-sugar foods. People with diabetes should also pack rescue medications or snacks with sugar for emergencies.
Finally, make sure that your insurance information is up to date and that the contact information for your doctor is easily accessible. By considering these particular details, you can ensure that your trip is safe and enjoyable and that you are ready for any complications or emergencies.
Still, when flying, there are regulations for medications, medical equipment, and supplies. It is essential to check these regulations to ensure everything runs smoothly with transport methods. Continue reading below for more details.
Essential tips for traveling with health issues or conditions
Taking extra precautions when traveling with health issues or conditions is essential. The following are some tips to keep in mind:
- The Transportation Security Administration does not require medication to be in the original container with labels. A pill box is acceptable. They also allow liquid medication in carry-on bags over 3.4 ounces in reasonable quantities for the flight. You can pack your medicines in a carry-on or checked bag; however, using a carry-on bag for your medications is the best option in case your checked luggage gets lost in transit.
- There are specific regulations in states or countries for traveling with medications, so it is crucial that you check these rules for the places where you will travel.
- Many destinations are wheelchair friendly. Check out Wheel the World for information.
- Medical information should be current, including health status, diagnoses, treatments, and vaccinations.
- The best place to keep your medical information is on your phone, which is always with you. Most doctor’s offices and hospitals have electronic healthcare apps such as MyChart that keep your information current.
Following these tips will help make your travel experience worry-free and enjoyable.
Are any specific travel insurance options available for travelers with health issues or conditions?
Travel insurance is a must when traveling with health issues, chronic illnesses and conditions. Allianz Travel offers travel insurance for single trips, annual or multiple trips, and rental car insurance. Their website is user-friendly for travelers of all ages. Travelers can get a quote, manage their policy, file a claim, and check their claim status. AAA Washington travel agents are also available for all your travel needs.
Additionally, Allianz Global Assistance plans can include pre-existing medical condition coverage. But here are a few things to remember with pre-existing coverage:
- You must purchase the policy within the time frame specified in your plan (usually 14 days from the first trip payment or deposit).
- You must be a U.S. resident.
- If you have recently had surgery or cancer treatment or have a chronic condition, get written approval to travel from your doctor.
- On the policy purchase date, insure the total nonrefundable cost of your trip with Allianz Global Assistance, including trip arrangements that will become nonrefundable or subject to cancellation penalties between the policy purchase date and the departure date. Include your airfare, hotel reservations, tour bookings, and other nonrefundable costs. You must insure additional nonrefundable trip expenses incurred after you purchase your policy within 14 days of purchase.
Why is travel insurance necessary?
Travel insurance is a small price to pay for the ease of mind that you are covered if something happens during your trip. Travel insurance covers things like the following situations:
- If you must cancel your trip for a covered reason — such as severe injury or accident, death, violence at the destination, natural disasters, or the travel company ceases operations — travel insurance can reimburse you for specific costs.
- If you experience a covered medical emergency, travel insurance can help ensure you get high-quality health care and can reimburse you for covered medical costs.
- Travel insurance can pay for the damage or loss if your rental car gets lost, damaged, or stolen.
- If you face an unexpected crisis while traveling, travel insurance connects you with assistance for expert help and advice.
Travel insurance is essential for all travel experiences, especially with chronic health conditions. Without travel insurance, you could lose the money you paid for your vacation, car rental, hotel, flights, etc. You could also be on your own to find and pay for healthcare services.
How to find the health services available in your destination country
When traveling to an international destination, it’s essential to research the health services available. This information is vital for travelers with health issues or conditions requiring special medical care. To find the health services available in your destination country, research their healthcare system. Hospitals, community health centers, physicians, mental health organizations, and diagnostic centers provide preventive, curative and rehabilitative care.
Public safety organizations such as police, fire and emergency medical services are also crucial to research. You can find this information on the World Health Organization‘s website. Additionally, you can contact the country’s Ministry of Health or the local embassy or consular office for more detailed information about the country’s health services. Lastly, consider speaking to friends, family or colleagues who have recently traveled to the country to learn more about the available health services.
Domestic travel considerations are to make sure the area you are traveling to has access to providers covered by your health insurance. Travel insurance for domestic travel is essential for medical emergencies, air and hotel cancellations, and tour costs.
Traveling with health issues can be enjoyable. A well-planned trip can provide comfort and ensure you meet your needs while traveling. Talk to your healthcare provider, pack enough medications, get travel insurance, and be aware of the resources a chronic illness can require. Health issues and conditions shouldn’t stop domestic or international travel.
—Written by Kellie Norris, MSN RN
—Top photo: AdobeStock
Kellie Norris, MSN RN is an Oklahoma-based nurse with experience in trauma and critical care, nursing education, and insurance review.
- Allianz Travel. (n.d.). Safer travel starts with travel protection.
- Allianz Travel. (n.d.) What’s the Best Travel Insurance for Pre-Existing Medical Conditions?.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022, August 18). Traveling with a Disability.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022, August 18). Traveling Abroad with Medicine.
- Sørensen, H. T. (2022). Patients with Chronic Diseases Who Travel: Need for Global Access to Timely Health Care Data. Clinical epidemiology, 14, 513–519.
- Transportation Security Administration. (n.d.). Can you pack your meds in a pill case and more questions answered.
- Wheel the World. (n.d.). Accessible travel experiences around the world.
- World Health Organization. (n.d.). Countries.
As always, it’s a good idea to talk with a travel agent about any CDC travel restrictions by country before booking a vacation. Plan ahead to make traveling with health issues or conditions easier. AAA Washington travel agents are available to help with all your travel needs.
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