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Traveling with an Illness: How to Prepare and Stay Healthy

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travel illness

Travelling can be a relaxing experience, but it can become more difficult when illnesses and conditions are involved. Whilst things like travel sickness can have simple solutions, more chronic or severe illnesses can make a trip much more stressful and challenging. However, there are things that you can do to make the journey and trip easier, and therefore more enjoyable.

Take a look at our top tips to prepare for your trip and stay healthy whilst you are away. 

holiday checklist

1) Planning your trip: consider your illness

How will your illness impact your travels? Planning for more unexpected events that may occur, such as getting travel insurance, can help you to manage your illness even when things don’t go as expected. You may also be required to have a Fit to Fly certificate, depending on your condition. 

If you are planning your activities for the duration of your trip, think about the activities you want to do but be aware of how this will impact you and what your limitations are.

2) Communicate with your healthcare provider before travel

If you have an underlying health condition, speaking with your healthcare provider can help you with your travel plans. They will be able to advise you about whether travelling is safe, and if so what precautions need to be made. For example, they can help you to find out any vaccinations or medications you will need before and during your trip. Some vaccinations cannot be taken by people using certain medications, but your healthcare provider will be able to establish which vaccines and medications you can and cannot have.

3) Pack essentials for managing symptoms while on the go

Essentials are needed for any trip, even more so if you have an illness. If you use specific medication, ensure you bring extra with you in case it gets lost or your trip lasts longer than planned. Over-the-counter medications, such as paracetamol or antihistamines, can also be taken with you. 

If there is medication you need to take before reaching your destination, keep it in an easily accessible location. If you are flying, you may need to speak with the airline about this medication, depending on what it is. If you are travelling via car, this may be easier to manage.

These essentials aren’t limited to medications. They can also include compression socks and walking aids to name a few, depending on your illness.

healthcare provider

4) Research healthcare options at your destination

Sometimes, illnesses get worse, and medical attention is needed regardless of where you are. Before travelling, look into the healthcare options that are available at your destination, such as pharmacies and hospitals, and which would be more beneficial for you to use if your illness worsens whilst you are away. You can also note down their locations and phone numbers so they are easily contactable if necessary, and local taxis to transport you there if you need them to.

5) Stay compliant with medication regimens while travelling

Some medications need to be taken at specific times, but different time zones can make this more difficult. If you are going to a location within a different time zone, speak with your healthcare provider before travelling. They will be able to consider the different time zones and establish an alternative schedule for taking medication that you can follow.

If you are going abroad, check if your medications are legal in the country you are travelling to. This applies to over-the-counter medications as well as prescribed ones. Having illegal medications in a foreign country, or trying to travel with them, can lead to a variety of consequences, including imprisonment or travel delays. If you are unsure, you can speak with your healthcare provider.

6) Coping with jet lag and time zone changes

When travelling abroad, there are things you can do to lessen the impact of jet lag on your body, such as altering when you go to bed a few days before you depart. If you are travelling east, it may mean going to bed an hour or so later than usual, or going to bed earlier if you are travelling west. When you arrive at your destination, try and alter when you sleep to match the time in your new location.

7) Navigating unfamiliar environments with mobility issues

For people needing assistance whilst they travel, places like airports can provide extra support. For example, calling the airline in advance enables them to accommodate your needs, such as providing a wheelchair if you need one. Some airlines can also have you and someone accompanying you sitting beside each other, which helps if this person is familiar with your illness and can help in times of emergency or need.

Also, research your destination before travelling. Some places are not easily accessible for people with mobility issues, such as having lots of stairs and no lifts. Some destinations may have streets that are too narrow for equipment such as wheelchairs. Ensure where you’re going has the necessary facilities for people who struggle with mobility.

8) Maintain healthy eating habits while on the road

Travelling impacts the body, whether a person has an underlying condition or not. Staying healthy whilst travelling can help to lessen the impact this has. Healthy eating can help to improve your immune system, which can help to reduce your chances of suffering from other illnesses. This could be by eating in healthy restaurants or snacking on healthier alternatives.

If you are travelling via plane, carrying snacks with you can help prevent any flare-ups that may be caused by food allergens or cross-contamination if this is something that impacts your illness.

You know your own body and your limits. Keep those in mind when you travel so you can enjoy your trip, and don’t be afraid to say no to activities if it would make your illness worse.

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