Top tips for travelling with a chronic condition

September 15, 2022
5 minute read

Whether it’s a long drive in the car, a cross-country train ride or catching a flight to go on holiday, we all know how much of a pain travelling can be. For those of us with a chronic condition, travelling can become much more challenging and anxiety inducing.

With some planning, you can quell the anxiety of travelling with a chronic condition. From checking to see if there are specialists in the area you’re visiting, to allowing for a few extra hours on holiday to take things easy and manage any flare-ups. What else can you do to make travelling more enjoyable?

Travel as comfortably as possible

Whichever way you’re going to travel, they key thing is to understand what the journey is going to look like. What time of day will you leave & arrive? How long will it take? What are the facilities at the departure and destination points? Once you have a clear idea of this you can assess whether you might need any assistance or considerations as you begin your journey. All major transportation hubs have specialist services such as seated transportation from point A to B, accessible toilet facilities and lounge areas. You can contact your travel operator or transport hub to plan out a smooth experience that works for you. Simple things like planning a time to take medications during travel can ease the process.

If you’re travelling by plane, you’ll be able to choose seats that provide you with the most comfort and ease of access for on-board facilities. If you need extra space, you can reserve extra leg-room seats and you can contact the airline about any considerations you might need for travelling as comfortably as possible.

Having a travel companion can ease any stress or anxiety of travelling. They can be there to emotionally and physically support you, which can make for a much more enjoyable experience. Afterall, it’s great to share experiences with someone else!

Plan for longer journeys

On longer journeys where you may be sitting in the same position for 4+ hours, it can be common to develop circulation issues, and blood clots can develop in very rare cases. To avoid this there are some simple actions you can take.

  • Use a low-dose aspirin if your GP recommends it. Those who currently use “blood-thinner” medication are not advised to do this.
  • Go for a stroll (if you can) or stretch your arms and legs every hour or so.
  • Perform seated leg raises multiple times each hour.
  • Put on tight-fitting, or compression, stockings or socks.

Manage your medication

One of the most important things you can do ahead of your trip is to ensure you have the right supply of your essential medication – and then an extra contingency amount. We would recommend getting in touch with your GP and explaining how long you’ll be away for and whether you need to request your repeat prescription a little earlier than usual.  

Make sure you pack your medication in its original packaging so that it can be clearly identified. This is important when travelling from one country to another. Most countries will have different regulations around prescription drug usage, so having the correct packaging will help in any cases where your medication may be subject to extra scrutiny. It is also helpful to check that your essential medications can be transported in and out of your destination country. Check this with your pharmacist or GP if in doubt.

Enjoy your destination

Similar to planning your journey, it can be beneficial to do advance research on your destination and your accommodation.  

Before you choose a place to stay, check out online reviews to see what other guests thought. Do they have spacious rooms, lifts to all floors, step-free access and an on-site medical team? Are there hospitals or pharmacies nearby in case you need them? Once you’ve selected somewhere to stay, it can be helpful to call or email them to chat about your requirements or any concerns. That way, you’ll know your accommodation has everything you need for a stress-free stay.  

Depending on your condition, it might be useful to understand your destination more widely. What sort of activities do they have on offer and will you be able to enjoy them? What are the temperatures and are there better times of days for you to do certain activities in line with your health?  

What do other travellers say?

We find that hearing about other travellers’ experiences is an excellent way of truly understanding if your travel plans are going to give you the experiences you’re looking for. There are lots of review sites for travel operators, accommodation and destinations. However, it can pay-off to also explore the experiences of other travellers like you. Checking out online bloggers means you can read about their tried & tested experiences and ask them questions. Here are some we found useful:

Medical ID and Safety app

To plan for any unforeseen health problems, use the Medical ID feature within your smartphone. This allows paramedics and emergency responders to access your essential medical information without using your passcode.

Find out how simple this is to set up and how it works for your device’s operating system.

Further resources

The Rest Room - this summer we’ve been lucky enough to sponsor Natasha Lipman’s podcast, where her focus is on living well with chronic conditions.  

21 top chronic pain and illness blogs – a curated collection of chronic condition bloggers and resources.

If you have any questions or concerns about travelling with a chronic condition, get in touch with our friendly pharmacy team who can offer you advice and guidance.

Content last reviewed on:
September 15, 2022
Next review date:
September 15, 2024
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