Travel is one of life’s greatest joys. It allows us to experience different cultures, see new landscapes and learn more about ourselves. But, when it comes to travelling with a medical condition, it can be easy to feel restricted by your situation and unsure whether you can make travel work while keeping your health in mind. We’re here to tell you that you can enjoy the world and travel abroad, even when living with a health condition.
In this article, we’ll offer a range of tips for travelling with a medical condition that can show you that, with a little bit of planning and preparedness, there is no reason to miss out on amazing experiences.
Pick a destination that won’t hinder your condition
The first thing you should do before booking your trip or going any further through the planning process is to decide on a location. Did you know, depending on your medical condition, it might be that certain climates will aggravate your condition and make symptoms worse? This is especially true of hotter temperatures which can affect everything from asthma to autoimmune conditions.
Talk to your GP or medical specialist
It is vital to make the time to talk to your GP or medical specialist before you go away, and if possible before you even book your trip. There is no one better equipped to offer you advice and guidance on your travel plans than your GP, who’ll know both the intricacies of your condition and how it affects you personally.
For those with conditions that can be affected by different temperatures, weather conditions or other factors, your doctor can help you plan your trip and pick a suitable destination. It might also be that they can advise you on a holiday type, and whether something full of adventure or laid-back and relaxing is better for your needs.
Your medical professional will also be able to make sure you’re prepared in case you have an emergency or a flare-up whilst travelling. They’ll be able to advise you on medication needs for the trip and might even be able to offer information on medical care in the location you’re travelling to.
One thing they can do that’ll be highly beneficial (which we’ll recommend you do later on in this guide) is provide you with any necessary documentation or letters about your condition and the medication you’re on. This information can be helpful to your travelling companions if an emergency does arise, as it means they don’t need to memorise everything about your condition and medication. It can also be supplied to accommodation or tour operators if required.
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Ensure you have the right travel insurance policy for your needs
Making sure you have travel insurance before going on any holiday is essential, but did you know that many standard policies don’t cover undisclosed, pre-existing medical conditions? At Medical Travel Compared, we can help you compare quotes for travel insurance for pre-existing medical conditions. This means that you can be sure you’ll have the best price on the best coverage, giving you peace of mind that should anything happen, you won’t need to foot the bill.
Victoria is a travel blogger at Travel Vixta. Her son has a heart condition, so she is all too aware of the extra steps needed when someone travels with a medical condition, and she was shocked to find out some travel insurers wouldn’t cover her son at all. She told us:
“Make sure you check the fine print of your travel insurance to ensure that your medical condition is covered. It is important to do this because not all travel insurance policies cover pre-existing medical conditions. If your condition is not covered and you need medical treatment while travelling, you could be faced with a large medical bill. To avoid this, make sure you carefully read the terms and conditions of your travel insurance policy at the time of booking to ensure it covers your medical condition. If not, you may want to look for travel insurance from another provider in case of a medical emergency. Travel insurance may be slightly more expensive for some conditions, but it's worth the extra cost to ensure you are adequately covered. Also, take any necessary medications with you and have a plan in place in case you need medical treatment while travelling.”
Make your travel companions aware of your condition
Sometimes, we might find ourselves travelling with people who are not aware of our medical conditions or the intricacies of our medical conditions, for example, on a work trip or a large group holiday. Whilst travel is a wonderful way to get to know new people, it can mean that if something happens, they might not know the best ways to react or what they should do to help.
Before you travel anywhere, even with people you’re accustomed to travelling with, it can be worth letting your travelling companions know what to do in the case of an emergency. This can be explaining the medication you take to them, where you keep your prescription, and what a medical professional might need to know if you are unable to relay the information yourself.
Research the medical facilities in the area you’re visiting
If you have a medical condition and need help whilst you’re in the UK, it is easy and straightforward enough to know where to go and who to call, but that isn’t always the case when you’re travelling abroad. Even before you book your holiday, research the location you are planning to visit and make sure there are amenities like pharmacies or a local hospital nearby, so you know exactly where you need to go if an emergency occurs.
If you have already booked your holiday, upon arrival, ask a member of staff at the hotel for the contact details and address/directions for the local pharmacies and hospitals, so you aren’t caught short in case of a medical need. If your hotel isn’t near any amenities, then at least you know you will need to drive or get a taxi and can plan this into your journey.
Petra, a blogger at A Mum Reviews, spoke to us about how important it is to be prepared when travelling with a medical condition, and researching the area you’re visiting is an integral part of this preparation. She told us:
“Do your research in advance to make sure that things go smoothly on your trip. If you need any special supplies or medicines, take them with you or check in advance what you will be able to find at your destination. If you’re travelling abroad, check in advance what happens in a medical emergency and bring any medical information that would be useful in an emergency. This could even be translated into the native language of the country you’re visiting. Being prepared will help you feel relaxed and be able to enjoy your travels better, as well as be very helpful in case of an emergency.”
Carry your medical information with you
You will be familiar with the medication you take on a daily basis or your medical history, but that doesn’t mean in an emergency that the people who need to know will be able to find out what they need to know. When travelling abroad, we always recommend taking all the relevant information with you; this includes prescriptions and information from your doctor detailing the medication you are taking and the conditions you take the medication for.
If you have had recent surgery or have recently become ill or started taking medication, then it is wise to get a fit to fly form from your doctor in case you are questioned about your condition at the airport.
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Bring more medication than you think you’ll need
Holidays and trips don’t always go to plan, and sometimes delays are inevitable, so bringing more medication than you need for the days you are planning to be away is a wise idea. Before you travel, talk to your doctor about ensuring your prescription will cover not only your trip but extra time as well, and you won’t be caught short if you need to extend your trip.
Travelling when you’ve got a medical condition might seem daunting, but with the proper preparation, you’ll be able to enjoy a trip to the fullest and have peace of mind that, should something happen, you’re ready and covered. Feel free to use the checklist above for future trips to ensure you’ve followed all these essential steps.Get a quote
A pre-existing condition is a diagnosed medical condition that existed before taking out a policy. We'll ask a series of questions about the medical history for you and any travellers on your quote. If you answer yes to any of these, you will need to tell us about the traveller's conditions. This could be a condition that a traveller has now or has had in the past. If you are not sure what conditions you need to declare, we have online support available to help you 24/7!
It is really simple and quick to do! After you've told us about your trip details and answered some medical history questions you can add your pre-existing conditions, one by one, for each traveller. You'll only need to enter your details once, it's all online and there's no need to call, or provide details of your conditions in writing.