1. Health

Travel Tips for Cancer Patients


Updated July 18, 2011

Whether it is for business, pleasure, or a family emergency, there may be times when people with cancers such as leukemia or lymphoma need to travel. While the thought may seem overwhelming, with a little pre-planning, holiday time can go smoothly!

Do Your Research:

It is a good idea to do a bit of research about the places you will be visiting.

  • Do you require special immunizations or vaccines for travel there? Is this feasible for you?
  • Are there any illnesses specific to that area that you should be aware of?
  • What types of medical facilities are there?
  • Is there somewhere you could get medications if you need them?

Get Yourself Covered:

Learn about your health plan and what kind of coverage you have when you are away from home. It is a great idea to purchase some extra insurance coverage if you don’t have it. Look for an insurance that includes an evacuation clause in case you need to be transported home or to safety in a medical or natural emergency.

Talk to Your Doc:

Run your travel plans by your doctor, just to get the all-clear before you take off. Ask if they can provide you with the name of a doctor at your travel destination that can care for you if you become ill.

Some cancer centers can also provide you with a note that can be presented at a care facility in an emergency. This type of letter may include information about your condition, medications you are taking, and what they should do if you arrive with a fever or other common malady.

Medication Tips:

  • If possible, bring enough medication for your entire trip -- and then some.

  • Some medications are not readily available in other countries, so it is worthwhile to check out beforehand what you should do if your supply gets low.

  • Keep all medications in their original containers with labels. Prescription bottles should have your name and the name and dosage of the drug clearly indicated.

  • Pack any medications or medical supplies in your carry-on or hand held baggage so they don’t get lost.
  • You may consider carrying a note from your doctor with a list of your required medications on it to prove that you need them. This is especially important for pain medications, antidepressants, and stimulants that may be illegal in other countries.

  • Carry all your medications in a resealable plastic bag to prevent spills. If you are traveling with chemotherapy or injectable medications, this step is particularly important.

  • Put cotton balls in your pill bottles to prevent pill damage during transport.

  • As your doctor or pharmacist how to handle your medications if you will be traveling to a different time zone.
  • If you need syringes for your medications, make sure you bring enough for your entire trip, as well as a note from your doctor explaining why you need them. You may not be able to keep syringes in your carry-on baggage if you will be traveling by plane, so documentation will be very helpful in this situation.

Schedule in Some R and R:

No matter what your purpose for traveling, sightseeing, visiting and meetings can be exhausting. Make sure that you schedule in some rest time every couple of hours so that you don’t get run down. This regular “down time” will help to prevent you from missing out on activities later in the long run.

Above all, take this opportunity to allow yourself some time to think about something other than your cancer and enjoy yourself!

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