How to Make Travelling with Medical Issues Stress-Free

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Hey Owlets,


If you’ve followed my blog and/or Instagram for the last few years you’ll know that my family aren’t blessed with the best of health. Personally, I can’t eat gluten and have a few allergies but as long as I take my tablets I’m fine. My Dad, on the other hand, has a heart condition which resulted in him having an internal defibrillator fitted as well as bringing an oxygen concentrator (a machine that purifies the air into a higher concentration of oxygen) on our trips with us. On the most part it’s not been a problem, but we’ve learnt a few tips and tricks along the way that I wanted to share in the hopes that it might make life easier for you too.


Bring Spares of EVERYTHING


As a child I remember going to visit my godparents 3 hours away with my family. As we arrived Dad opened the car door and his insulin fell on the floor. What followed was several hours of stress trying to find somewhere that would give hima replacement after hours without the doctor issuing a prescription. What ended with a trip to A&E to get a replacement could’ve easily been solved by simply packing a spare somewhere else.


This is especially important these days because even if you don’t drop your insulin and smash the vial on the first day of a trip, you might end up in isolation and have to be away from home longer than you planned. It’s always easier to carry a few spares than it is to find extra in a strange place.



Keep Notes

 

This is particularly important for overseas travel but is useful even for domestic holidays. Whenever you’re travelling keep a note of your medical conditions and the medication you need to take, along with how often you take it. We usually keep a copy of my Dad’s most recent prescription on a shared album on our phones, but you could just print it out and keep it safe. It’s useful to have a copy in case you fall ill on the trip, but some countries won’t let you bring medication into the country unless you have a prescription or can prove you need it (Dubai is a big one for this!).


Communication is Key


Whatever health issues you have, communicating with the people around you is one of the most important pieces of advice I can give you. When we go on cruises we bring medication and an oxygen concentrator and I let the cruise line know about my allergies ahead of time. You’ll be given a form to fill in that lets the company know and allows you to make any requests (like a sharps bin in your cabin for insulin users). Then when we get on board I always have to let the waiter know about my allergies at our first dinner, but Dad’s all sorted by the time we board. When we get off at each port Dad isn’t allowed to go through the security scanners because it can deactivate his defibrillator so he just shows them his card from the hospital and they pat him down instead.



Learn Some Phrases


Obviously this isn’t always necessary, but if you’re traveling internationally knowing a few phrases can really help you. I wrote an article a while ago about how to travel with food allergies that has basic translations for most tourist destinations which you might find helpful. Dad’s defibrillator card has a few different languages on it, and there are cards that you can print off from places like Coeliac UK (linked in my travelling with allergies article if you need them) if you’re worried about pronouncing any of the words. If you’re really in doubt then download Google Translate and store the language of the country you’re going to offline so you’re not relying on data or wifi!


Check the Rules


One of the most helpful things when travelling with health issues is simply to pay attention to the rules - particularly at the moment. Due to the pandemic several cruise lines won’t let oxygen concentrators on board at the moment (hence why we gave Royal Caribbean another shot a few weeks ago) so check the cruise line’s health protocols before you book. If you’re flying somewhere then just check the entry and medical requirements on the FCO website before you book. Usually stricter countries will just ask for a copy of your prescription, but there are a few Middle Eastern countries that are really strict so you might need to check what’s on your prescription before you book the trip. 



While this might all sound like a lot of unnecessary hassle it’s really not as difficult as it sounds - particularly once you’ve done it a few times. It’s always better to be prepared and not need it than need it and be stressed out. Keeping a prescription on your phone or checking the rules one last time before you book seems like a lot of effort but it’s quick and easy and is sure to make your holiday stress free!!


Now….stop worrying and book that trip!


Love and Feathers, 
 The Owlet 💜 
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