Being diagnosed with a long term medical condition raises all sorts of questions about how it will affect your everyday life. Changes in lifestyle, diet, routines, work patterns and favourite past times can all add up to a significant amount of upheaval.
One thing many people wonder following diagnosis is – will I still be able to travel? The broad answer is, unless you are acutely unwell, then yes. Managing a long term medical condition is about making the adjustments to allow your life to continue as normally as possible. And that includes doing things like going on holiday, and generally trying to keep living life to the full.
There are, however, some things you should bear in mind when planning to travel with a medical condition. Here’s a quick overview of the most important.
Consult your doctor
Especially if you have a new diagnosis or have not been feeling well, it is important to get your GP’s advice before you travel. Not only will they be able to tell you whether they think you are up to it or not, they will be able to give you pointers on how to look after yourself. You will also need to get prescriptions for the medication you will need while you are away, and it is a good idea to get a letter from your doctor explaining your condition in case you need medical assistance abroad.
Think about your destination
Depending on the condition you have, where you travel to may have an impact on your symptoms. For example, if you suffer from a respiratory condition like asthma, large, heavily polluted cities or hot, dusty climates could make your symptoms worse than usual. Hot climates in general put added stresses on your body, so if you have a heart condition, it is advisable not to exert yourself too much. Also, bear in mind the distance you travel. Long haul flights, car, coach or train journeys can be very tiring and can set off nausea – both things you may already be experiencing if, for example you are undergoing treatment for cancer. In general, make choices which minimise the risks of making your symptoms worse.
Take everything you need with you
This applies most obviously to prescription medicines. It is easier to stock up with what you need beforehand, but also take a prescription with you just in case. Bear in mind that brand names vary from country to country, so ask your GP to use the generic drug names on the prescription. If you wear any sort of implanted device or medical accessory, such as a heart defibrillator or colostomy bag, make sure everything is in good working order before you go, and take back ups.
Get the right travel insurance
Travel insurance covers you for many things – flight cancellations, lost luggage, stolen credit cards. But it also provides crucial cover if you need medical care while you are abroad. However, most policies only offer a standard level of medical cover, and this does not include cover for any pre-existing conditions. Standard travel insurance policy providers will be happy to quote for covering your long term condition – but they will charge exorbitant premiums for the privilege.
There are two things to do. First, look for a provider which specialises in travel insurance for people with long term medical conditions. They will offer the cover you need at reasonable rates. Second, get specific cover for your condition. So if you have cancer, get a cancer travel insurance policy, if you have diabetes, get diabetes travel insurance, and so on. This will ensure the policy terms cover the specific care you are likely to require for your condition.
Avanti Travel Insurance specialises in bespoke policies for the over-50s and for people travelling with pre-existing medical conditions.