Author: Bill Groben, Infusion Pharmacy Director
Planning a trip can be a stressful experience, especially if you have a chronic condition. However, there are many ways to make travel easier. Here are eight things to think about before traveling with a chronic condition.
Create a Checklist
Before you can head out for your vacation, you have to pack. If you have a chronic condition that requires medications or medical supplies, this step is especially important. Forgetting something at home can derail your entire trip. Take some of the pressure off packing by creating a checklist in advance. Writing a detailed list can help you get out the door with everything you need. The checklist should include medications, tickets, contact information for your healthcare provider and other packing essentials.
Consider Buying Travel Insurance
If you have a chronic health condition, it may be a good idea for you to purchase travel insurance. Travel insurance policies can help you get money back from canceled trips or health concerns during your trip. Trip cancellation insurance can protect your investment if you are not well enough to travel. Your health insurance policy might not provide coverage in other countries. Travel health insurance can provide coverage if you travel outside of the United States. At the very least, travel insurance can give you peace of mind when planning ahead for travel.
Talk to Your Doctor Before You Leave
Tell your doctor about all your travel plans. Provide information about where you’re going, how long you will be gone and what activities you’re planning during your trip. Be sure to talk to your HPS pharmacist too. HPS can make sure you have the medication you need while you’re away from home. Ask about vaccinations.
Remote Locations and International Travel
If you are traveling to a remote area or to another country, research your healthcare options before you go. Make sure to have a plan in the event of a medical emergency. Think about where you will get medical assistance and how you will get there. Remember, if you’re traveling abroad or in a remote area, you may not have cell phone service. If there is a language barrier, figure out how you will translate important information about your condition.
Check the Latest TSA Guidelines
Consult with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) before traveling by air. Liquid medications over 3.4 ounces are usually allowed, but you should double check. You may request a visual inspection if you do not want your medication or medical device to go through an X-ray machine. The TSA recommends carrying a Disability Notification Card and contacting the TSA Cares Helpline with any questions. Be sure to communicate clearly throughout the entire security screening process. Tell the TSA officials if you need special accommodation for a medical reason. Review the TSA latest guidelines on traveling with medications before you head to the airport.
Packing Your Medications
When you’re packing, make sure all your medications are stored in secure containers to avoid spills or leaks. Always keep your medicine and necessary medical supplies with you, especially if you are traveling by plane. This way if your baggage is lost or stolen it will not affect your medication schedule. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) suggests bringing all necessary medications with you, including over the counter medicine.
Dress in Layers
Traveling may include airport layovers, air-conditioned vehicles or climate changes outside. Make sure you’re prepared for any weather by dressing in layers on travel day. Blankets are great travel accessories because they can keep you warm and serve as a pillow.
Plan a Recovery Day
When you’re planning time off for your vacation, include a recovery day. While the goal of vacation time is to come back refreshed and rejuvenated, that’s not always the case. The road bumps and hiccups of travel can often lead to fatigue when you get home. Take an extra day off and give yourself time to recover and get back into your normal routine.
If you have changes in your medication delivery schedule due to travel, hospital stays or other reasons, be sure to tell your HPS pharmacist. HPS can ship your medication to your local Hy-Vee store or to a location that’s convenient for you.