Travelling with a medical condition or chronic disease requires planning! Follow this travel checklist to enjoy your trip or vacation.
People who are ill or disabled travel for the same reasons that others do – for work, for a much-needed vacation, to see family and friends, or to assuage a curiosity about a place. In fact, they probably need a break from their routines too. Life doesn’t stop just because we are in less than perfect conditions. Here is a travel checklist with things for you to do and consider before taking your vacation.
Even prolonged or chronic illnesses such as diabetes have lulls, such as weeks in between therapies and treatments. Speak to your doctor about travelling options. Your doctor can help by prescribing medication to last the length of your intended trip. Get him to prepare a copy of your case history with the medications you might need, listing their generic rather than brand names, as medicine brands differ from country to country. Bring copies of your X-rays or other documents in case you need to go to a foreign hospital. Your doctor might also be able to give you some advice and tips. For instance, they can teach you how to do a buddy bandage if you’re travelling with a broken toe.
Managing Medical Emergencies
If you tire easily or suffer from medical conditions or chronic conditions like diabetes, you shouldn’t scale mountains or go deep-sea diving. Modern, crowded cities can be tiring too.
Some companies will go the extra mile to earn your tourist dollar. For instance, there are companies that offer special services to disabled travellers. There are wheelchair friendly boats that can take those who are physically disabled into the Norwegian fiords at night. In Stockholm, public transport staff help passengers in wheelchairs board and disembark.
In general, the more developed a country, the more barrier-free and wheelchair-friendly it is. Unless you are seriously bedridden, don’t rule out a brief change of scenery that might do you some good.
Related: Gorgeous Destinations in 10,000 Steps
Medical tourism is a highly developed field, and many companies in Thailand, Taiwan, India and Singapore are competing for a slice of the pie. “We offer customised tours for people with disabilities,” says Kliff Ang, executive director of Asia Travel Group “Given that there are various types of disabilities, we do not offer standardised tour packages. The travel needs of someone in a wheelchair are different from those of someone with weak vision. We’ll check and deal with any transportation issues, such as finding wheelchair-accessible bathrooms, making sure the lifting equipment on vehicles can handle a motorised wheelchair, and looking up accessible routes for sightseeing. We attend to all the details to ensure a smooth journey.” Because sickly or disabled travellers need more rest and time to get ready, a standardised package tour is not always convenient for someone travelling with a medical condition.
Related: How to Stay Safe and Healthy on Holiday
Being on a wheelchair, you may resent your dependence on others and become self-conscious about being a burden to your travel companions. Have more than one travelling companion so that they can take turns to go for breaks. If you are comfortable resting a few hours or watching TV in the hotel, then give them an afternoon off to do their own thing. Be cheerful and good-humoured. The trip will be a bonding experience for all of you.
Related: Building a Supportive Network of Family and Friends
Inform your airline of any dietary requirements or spatial needs. For instance, if you have diabetes, inform the airline about any dietary restrictions. It is highly recommended to use airport porter service – it can speed you through the queues at immigration and baggage check to your departure gate. Lastly, tell your airline in advance if you need to bring a personal motorised vehicle on board.
Related: Health advisory for travelling during school holidays
Write to your hotels in advance and ask specific questions: can they cater to your diet and allergies, are doorways wheelchair-friendly, are switches and power points within reach, is there manoeuvring space beside the bed, is there designated handicapped parking, are there ramps, automated doors and accessible washrooms in the public areas? Go to TripAdvisor or the hotel site directly for more information on the hotel.
Related: Easy Travel Preparations
Travel insurance is essential for everybody. You’ll certainly need it to cover a sudden onset of illness, unexpected visits to a local doctor or hospital or, if necessary, urgent transport home. Even if nothing dire happens, that peace of mind is indispensable for a good holiday.
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This article was last reviewed on
22 Nov 2023
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