Travel Medicine & Holiday Planning

Planning for a holiday

We all love to get away and take a holiday, but sometimes even the best holidays can turn to nightmares if you fail to plan ahead properly. This is particularly the case if you have an underlying health condition and require travel medicine.

However, with a bit of forward planning you can have the restful holiday that you deserve. Here are our best tips on making sure that you’re prepared the next time you head away.

Travel with someone you know 

If you have a medical condition, it’s always wise to travel with someone who understands it. That way, if something unexpected happens you can rely on them to help you out. More importantly they can also provide valuable help in communicating with another doctor about you and your condition.

Have your travel medication close 

If you have a medical alert ID bracelet, make sure you wear it during transit so that if something happens, you can receive the right help for your condition. You should also make sure you have your basic medical information with you, including:

  • the name of your primary care physician
  • details of your health insurance
  • details of your travel insurance
  • names and dosages of medications
  • lists of allergies and current illnesses
Man wearing medical information bracelet

Plan your itinerary 

If your travel plans include flights, transfers, layovers and hotel rooms, it will pay to map these out in advance, especially if you need to take any special medical supplies with you. Work out how long you’re likely to be in transit so that you can be sure you pack enough supplies to get you through. Don’t forget to factor in the time required to check in at the airport, waiting for cabs, transfers, and any possible delays. Also be aware of time differences that may restrict you from topping up your supplies as soon as you get to your destination. If you’re traveling by air you may want to consider popping a pair of compression socks on. These will improve blood circulation and help reduce leg swelling and the likelihood of blood clot formation during long haul flights.

Pick up the phone 

When booking accommodation it is best to call your accommodation directly to ensure that they meet your accessibility requirements. Your hotels may need some time to plan ahead or accommodate for your needs. Be clear when describing your medical condition or disability to your accommodation and give as many details as possible about what you can and can’t do.

Check with your airline about flying with your medical equipment

Some medications will need to be kept refrigerated, check in with your airline prior to your travels to ensure they can accommodate or assist you with this. You can purchase cold packs to keep your medication cold.

If you have certain accessibility requirements, you’ll need to disclose this with your airline and the airport that you are travelling through. It is always a good idea to outline your requirements and needs to prevent any stress or misunderstanding on the day of travel. It may be a good idea to print out any communication and keep this on you as a backup. Keep this with all of your other important documents such as health insurance and letters from your doctor.

Buy your medical supplies in advance 

If you need to take medical supplies with you, buy plenty in advance to see you through until you’re able to get more. Ensure that you pack enough in your hand luggage while you’re in transit and the remainder can go in your checked luggage. If you need to take medication on the run, or check your blood glucose levels, you’ll also need a quick safe sharps container to safely dispose of your sharps.

Know where to get extra medical supplies 

If you’re traveling interstate or overseas, make sure you know where you can buy extra medical supplies before you leave for your holiday. It might also be worth asking if these can be delivered to your hotel or accommodation to save you having to negotiate unfamiliar territory.

Understand the laws around medicines and medical devices 

If you need to take regular medication, get your scripts filled before you leave to ensure you have enough while you’re away. There are rules when it comes to traveling with medicines and medical devices. Different countries have different laws about what can be taken in and out of the country, so make sure you understand these rules before you leave. You can find out by checking with the country’s consulate or embassy. You’ll also require documentation from your doctor that covers any medication you’re taking (including alternative medicine) and medical devices you use. If your medication is illegal at your destination, ask your doctor about alternatives.

Be aware of new routines 

New routines can upset some people, especially changed time zones, different food and even a different water supply. If you’re travelling overseas where water quality can be questionable, make sure you drink bottled water, and avoid eating the skins of fruits and vegetables that may have been washed in local water.

Talk to your doctor 

Before heading away, chat to your doctor about your travel plans. Discuss your itinerary to make sure you get any destination-specific vaccines or medications you may need. You’ll also need to check that your current prescriptions will cover you for the period of time you’re away. It may also be a good idea to discuss any contingency plans in case you become unwell while you’re away.

Plan ahead  

The most important travel tip – organise everything as early as possible. Peak travel times often revolve around public holidays and extremely busy delivery times for your supplies and consumables. Always ensure that you have ordered enough supplies to last you the duration of your trip and plan ahead for supplies for when you get back.

Remember, if you have any questions about travelling with a health condition, make sure you speak to your doctor. Happy holidays! 

More health advice

View our wide range of health and accessibility articles, sourced from leading health professionals.

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