Seven ways to simplify travelling with a chronic illness
When you live with a long-term illness, travel can be more challenging but it isn’t impossible! Frequent traveller Jessica Bean shares her tips for enjoying safe and healthy holidays.
Travel has always brought me immense joy. As teens, my best friend and I would procrastinate by planning our adventures, dreaming about cultures, food, and perhaps a holiday romance.
As an adult, seeing the world has helped build my values and has gifted me perspective, adaptability, and resilience, among other life skills—all of which have served me in living with a long-term medical condition. Ticking travel goals off my bucket list has been an incentive to work as hard as possible on my health—after all, dreams and passion are an essential part of caring for our health!
However, travelling with a medical condition can bring its own challenges and risks. It isn’t impossible, but planning is critical. Over the years, as a result of the good, the bad and the absolutely terrifying, I’ve compiled a list of tips on how to stay as safe and well as possible.
1. Seek professional advice
Even if you are only travelling domestically, consulting your medical team about three months ahead of time (if possible) should always be the first step in your planning process. They will most likely have experience with other people with your condition and might think of things you haven’t considered, including any vaccinations you may need.
Closer to your departure, they will also need to provide you with:
- a summary letter, which should include an outline of your condition and recent medical history
- a medication list, including the name of the medicine’s active ingredient (not brand name) and dose
- copies of any prescriptions in case you run out while you are away
- any travel requirements (e.g. medications must be carried as hand luggage)
- confirmation of relevant medical clearances as well as listing any devices you need for managing your condition (e.g. insulin syringes and needles)
- your doctor’s contact details
- advice about when to take your medicines if you’re travelling into a different time zone.
2. Consider the worst
Planning for a medical emergency could save you a lot of stress. Common concerns to consider include:
- what you would do if your medications were lost or stolen
- who to contact in case of a medical equipment breakdown
- what to do if you became unwell
Taking time before your departure to plan for these things, including who to contact in each situation, will give you peace of mind, allowing you to enjoy your trip.
While full travel insurance coverage might not always be possible if you live with a pre-existing condition you may want to consider an insurance policy for unrelated health incidents and accidents, losses or cancellations.
3. Plan to stay well
Prevention is always better than cure! Instead of taking risks, save ‘your brave’ and courage for swimming with sharks or skydiving by taking small proactive steps to support your health.
For example, if you have a weakened immune system, wear a mask on aeroplanes and carry hand sanitiser and antibacterial wipes for tray tables or TV remotes. Even better, if you can manage it - a good thorough wash of your hands with soap and running water taking care to dry properly - especially after using the toilet and before eating.
If you get tired easily, forget FOMO—schedule a rest day as an investment in staying well.
If you have strict dietary requirements, Google cafes at your destination and book your hotel nearby (and always have plenty of snacks on hand!) and don’t forget to let the airline know if you have any dietary requirements when you book your flight.
Bupa Travel Insurance is distributed by Bupa HI Pty Ltd ABN 81 000 057 590 an authorised representative of the issuer, Insurance Australia Limited ABN 11 000 016 722 AFSL 227681. Any advice is general only and does not take into account your personal circumstances. Consider the Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) to see if this product is right for you.