Traveling with long term illness

Written by on October 26, 2018 in Blog - No comments

There are several things a committed travel enthusiast dreads. Having their passport taken off them. Suddenly not being able to afford their next plane ticket. Being diagnosed with a long-term condition that prevents them traveling.

Let’s just hold there for a second. At that moment of truth when you’re sat in your doctor’s surgery and they show you have something like diabetes or lung disease or a heart condition, that dreadful thought may well flash through your mind – I might never travel again.

But is that true? Not necessarily. It all depends on the severity of the condition and how it affects you physically and mentally. But plenty of people get diagnosed with all sorts of illnesses and don’t let it turn their life completely upside down. They continue to work, to raise a family, to continue a social life.

Why should travelling be any different?

As in any other area of life, traveling with a long-term illness is all about management. Here are some tips on looking after yourself as you keep traveling.

Travel insurance

Travel insurance is important at the best of times. But when you have a medical condition, and therefore have a heightened chance of requiring treatment while abroad, protecting yourself from the potentially high costs becomes even more critical.

You also need to seek out a specialist policy for your condition. If you are diagnosed with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), for example – one of the most common types of lung disease – you won’t be able to buy any old travel insurance anymore. The medical cover will not include treatments related to your condition, and the fact that you even have the disease in the first place will most likely invalidate the policy. Instead, you need to look for a provider who offers specialist COPD travel insurance with cover built to meet your needs.

Prescriptions and doctor’s letter

It is really important to visit your doctor before you travel. They will be able to offer you personal advice and tips, as well as give you a check-up to make sure you are well enough for what you have in mind. It is also strongly advised that you get a prescription for all medicines you will need for the duration of the trip and get them dispensed to take with you. Some drugs may be hard to get hold of in other countries, or else be available under different brand names.

It is also a good idea to ask your doctor to write a letter explaining your condition and the treatments you are on for it. This can be really useful to pass on to local health practitioners should you fall ill and need assistance.

Double down on precautions

There are lots of tips about looking after yourself when you travel that everyone should take heed of. Heading somewhere hot and sunny? Then make sure you drink plenty of water, wear a hat and seek out the shade. Is there a risk of insect-borne infections? Then wear loose, long-sleeved clothing and use plenty of repellant. Does your trip involve periods of extended travel? Then get plenty of rest when you can.

This kind of advice is all doubly important if you are traveling with a long-term health condition. No matter how healthy you feel when you set off, you will not be able to cope with things like heat stroke, dehydration and plain old physical exhaustion the way someone with a clean bill of health can. The best solution is not to take any risks and look after yourself every step of the way.

About the Author

Diana Edelman is an avid traveler who recently spent four years living as an expat. Most notably, Diana spent nearly three years in Chiang Mai, Thailand where she worked with Save Elephant Foundation to raise awareness about the realities of elephant tourism. Currently based in Las Vegas, Diana works in many industries as a publicist, social media expert, content creator and journalist. The co-founder of the Responsible Travel & Tourism Collective, Diana has spoken at conferences about travel blogging and responsible tourism.

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