Living with a long term medical condition often makes people think they cannot afford to travel as they must take constant medications and see their doctor regularly, not to mention the fear of being rejected in pre-existing medical conditions insurance cover.
Even though it does involve extra planning and thorough preparation, travelling is still very possible if you take into account all the important details and learn the risks.
So how to travel safe with pre-existing medical conditions?
#1 Carry your medication wherever you go and always bring some extra
Travelling is rather an unpredictable activity and you do not know for sure that your trip will not be extended for some reason. So think about extra medication you are more likely to need if you are delayed and carry your medication in the carry-on or in your prescription container.
#2 Keep your special medical alert identification visible
You are not required to wear a medical alert bracelet make sure the people you are travelling with are aware of your pre-existing medical condition, they may need to speak for you in case you are not able to speak for yourself (i.e. you are unconscious).
However if you are on the solo trip or your companion does not know about your special condition, medical alert bracelet, bag tag, certificate or card might be your only sign to let the emergency team provide the help needed for your pre-existing medical condition. Hence keep these items on and/or available.
#3 Always have your basic medical information with you
The following information should be with you wherever you go. It might be written in your notebook or printed on a card in your wallet – just make sure you have at least two copies in different places.
• List of current illnesses and pre-existing medical conditions
• Contact information of your primary care physician
• Names and dosages of medications
• Your health insurance
• Your travel insurance
#4 Carry your doctor’s note if you are fitted with implanted device
Remember that security checks at the airport can be a problem if you have implanted devices. For example, cardiac devices can be damaged by magnets used by security so it is extremely important to get a letter from your care physician to keep your health and your medical devices safe.
#5 Be aware of the medical care system of the place you are going to
There should be no problem if you are only travelling locally but once you have decided to go on an international trip you have to know how to get a medical help in the place you are going to. Travelling abroad might be even bigger challenge if you do not speak local language. Research the local hospitals in the area you are travelling to prior to the start of the trip to find out which ones will offer the kind of emergency medical assistance you would require.
#6 Think about backup plan
Write down all the possible outcomes of the mishaps which might be caused by your pre-existing medical conditions – just in case. And plan how you are going to act. Make sure you took into account all of the details so there are no nasty surprises on your way.
Here are some examples to start from:
• My carry-on with medications is stolen while on a tour trip to France.
What should I do? – I have copies of all my prescriptions, a travel assistance services and my doctor’s numbers so it will not be a problem replacing them easier.
• I’m unconscious after a car accident.
What should I do? – I have my medical alert tag on my bag and all the necessary medical information printed on the small card in my passport so the emergency personnel will know how to help.
#7 Make sure your travel insurance covers everything
Your travel insurance with all pre-existing medical conditions included maybe more expensive than the usual cover. However the price will depend on the condition you are travelling with and the area of travel so just make sure you declared everything from minor to major to avoid any mishaps.
Every pre-existing medical condition is unique and it is everyone’s responsibility to know all their health issues and think about the safest ways to travel with them. Do not let your medical condition stop you from seeing the world – plan every detail thoroughly and travel safe.