As with many chronic health conditions, high blood pressure can make planning a holiday more stressful than normal; especially for an activity that’s supposed to be relaxing in the first place. However, with the correct preparation, you can still have an enjoyable and fun time on your holidays even if you have hypertension.
Take a look at the travel tips that we have gathered below, to ensure that you get the most out of your holiday.
Check with your GP
- Before you do anything else, it’s crucial to understand the effect that travelling abroad may have on your high blood pressure, and no one is better suited to inform you of how to best manage your particular case of hypertension, than your GP.
- A pre-holiday consultation with your GP will be able to refresh your knowledge of any triggers to your hypertension, allowing you to take the appropriate precautions, even when out of your normal comfort zone.
- Your GP may also be able to recommend a change in medication to better suit the climate that you are travelling to, or the seasonal weather you are expecting at your destination; particularly extreme heat or cold may necessitate stronger medication, or greater care on your part.
Establish your medication requirements
- A few useful tips to keep in mind when travelling abroad with any kind of medication; always carry more than you need, and ensure that your supply is spread across the different luggage that you’re taking. This way, if a piece of luggage goes missing, you can be sure that you have access to at least enough medication to get by.
- On the same tangent, it’s also a good idea to carry a spare prescription with you, or a copy thereof; so that if some of your medication goes missing, or it turns out that you need more than you originally thought you required, you’ll have nothing to worry about.
- Bear in mind that you’ll most likely be entering a different time zone when you travel abroad, which means that you’ll need to adjust when you take your medication; your usual routines will need to be revised to accommodate this change. It’s definitely worth consulting your GP about this, to ensure that you won’t be without medication for a prolonged period of time, at any stage of your holiday.
- Make sure that you understand the requirements and limitations of the country you intend to travel to; ensuring that you acquire any necessary permits long before your departure date. At the same time, bear in mind that medication may only be available under different names, or in different quantities when abroad; so be sure to do the research before you leave.
- Airlines will also often have restrictions on how much medication can be freely transported on their service; so make sure you check their regulations, and enquire personally if there are still uncertainties that you feel need clearing up. The medication that you are taking with you on holiday may be illegal in the country that you intend to visit, so it’s also a good idea to carry a GP’s letter, to identify the medication and make it clear to authorities as to why you need to take it.
Understand how travelling will affect your condition
- If you suffer from high blood pressure, you have will most likely have a higher susceptibility to deep vein thrombosis (DVT) when travelling by plane. This makes it doubly important for you to try and stay mobile during the flight, and to stay properly hydrated. Not doing so further increases the odds of developing DVT. (Source: http://www.patient.co.uk/blogs/sarah-says/deep-vein-thrombosis-more-than-just-a-pain-in-the-leg, http://www.webmd.com/dvt/deep-vein-thrombosis-complications)
- Only consume low salt food during flights; the snack food served on planes are especially high in salt, so avoid them if possible. Bring some low salt snacks on-board if need be, to reduce the risk of trouble occurring.
- To reduce the risk of DVT during the flight, request an aisle seat, or a seat in front of an emergency exit. This will allow you to move frequently, either by stretching, or walking up and down the aisle; helping your circulation.
- Your GP may suggest that you use an oxygen tank for the duration of the flight. Whether you rent one from the airline, or bring your own, it’s important to phone the airline ahead of time. This way, you can work out what regulations they may have, and what action you will have to take to secure an oxygen supply.
Plan your itinerary accordingly
- As with plane travel, it’s important to avoid dehydration while on the holiday itself, whether this is caused solely by temperature, over exertion, intake of certain foods and drinks, or a combination of some or all of the above.
- It may sound obvious, but it’s also important to avoid any of the everyday hypertension triggers that you may have; whether its stress, lack of sleep, bad diet, lack of exercise, forgetting to take your medication, or any others. It’s essential that you continue to counter the effects of these triggers, and maintain a stable, relaxed lifestyle while on your holiday.
Travelling during holiday season can be draining at the best of times, but with a long-term condition like cancer, there’s a lot more to worry about and people can become overwhelmed. However, what many would look forward to as a time of joy, may become a disaster should something unexpected happen whilst out of the safety net of their local cancer services.
It is recommended that you discuss any travel plans with your doctor before you book a holiday abroad, as they will know the ins-and-outs of your individual situation and can advise you on any vaccinations you might be unable to receive, whether or not you will be considered fit to fly and any help needed in regards to treatment options.
Below are some tips and pieces of advice for those wishing to travel after experiencing cancer:
- Think about things such as the duration and pace of your journey, whether you’ll need transport to or from the airport, specialist travel insurance, any vaccinations you’ll need, travelling with any medications and air travel. Planning ahead allows you to travel worry and stress-free so you can make the most of your trip.
Consult your GP
- Check that you are fit to travel and discuss any holiday plans with your GP before you book your trip. They will know more about your specific situation than anyone else and can advise on things such as vaccinations, medications, destinations and travelling by plane.
Research healthcare in your destination country
- Check your destination’s standards and provisions of healthcare with the relevant consulate or Embassy before you leave, as they are often quite different to what we’re used to in the UK.
- If you’re travelling within Europe, carry your EHIC card with you at all times, or check whether your destination has a reciprocal health agreement (RHCA) with the UK, as these entitle you to free or subsidised emergency medical attention and medicines should you need it. However, this is not a replacement for travel insurance, which will cover a lot of costs that the EHIC or RHCA won’t.
Sort out any necessary equipment, like oxygen and medications
- Travelling abroad with equipment like oxygen can be risky because it’s a fire hazard, but check with your GP or supplier and see what can be done for when you’re away.
- Travelling with liquids, gels or creams in your luggage nowadays can be difficult. Under current security restrictions, you cannot carry containers with liquids, gels or creams that exceed 100ml in your hand luggage.
- You can carry essential medicines of more than 100ml on-board, so long as you have prior approval from the airline and a letter from your GP listing your condition and your medicines, as well as a prescription.
- Be prepared to take your entire holidays worth of medication with you, as some countries have restrictions on the amounts of drugs they can give out, especially with opiates like morphine or strong painkillers which you often need a licence for. If you need a licence, apply ten days before you plan on leaving.
Protect yourself in the sun
- Chemo and radiotherapy can either temporarily or permanently alter your skin by making it ultra-sensitive to the UV rays which lead to skin damage. Protect yourself in the sun by covering up, seeking shade or wearing high-factor sunscreen.
Asthma is a common condition and with the right preparations, shouldn’t be a reason not to travel. Planning ahead is essential in ensuring that you can enjoy your holiday to the max.
Follow our handy checklist to make sure you’re prepared for your time away:
- Book an appointment with your GP and go over things like your personal asthma plan and what to do in an emergency, so you’re up-to-date and can inform anyone you’re travelling with what to do too.
Order extra inhalers should any get lost or stolen on your trip.
- Take a print of your prescription with the generic medical names of your prescriptions as they are easily translatable for foreign pharmacists.
- Research medical facilities and how to get help at your destination, in case of an emergency
- If you use a nebuliser, make sure it’s been serviced and is working well. Make sure you have a mains adapter to suit the electricity supply at your destination. You can buy portable battery-operated nebulisers for on the plane whilst you travel.
- Invest in some quality travel insurance that provides adequate cover for your condition and what you want to do.
- Bring your own pillows if feather-filled ones make your asthma worse, or ask your hotel/resort for an alternative. Similarly, if you’re sensitive to smoke, ask for a non-smoking room – smoking rules differ from country to country.
- If you’re short of breath, even when resting, you may need evaluation before you fly because of the reduced oxygen levels at high altitudes.
- Carry all your asthma medicines as hand luggage, in case your checked-in luggage goes missing or your medicines are damaged in the baggage hold.
- Under current security restrictions, you cannot carry containers with liquids, gels or creams that exceed 100ml in your hand luggage.
- You can carry essential medicines of more than 100ml on board, but you’ll need prior approval from the airline and airport and a letter from your doctor or a prescription.
- All asthma medicines taken on board should be in their original packaging, with the prescription label and contact details of the pharmacy clearly visible.
Having a stroke is life-changing and can leave you feeling like normal life is over. However, with therapy, treatment or rehabilitation, many people can resume their lives, including travelling and going on holiday. Below are some points to take into consideration before you go away:
- Before you go away, check with your GP that you’re fit enough to travel, and if you intend on flying, make sure you’ll pass any fit-to-fly evaluations. Ask about medication, treatment or any vaccinations you’ll need before you depart on your trip and discuss going on holiday with them – they may be able to offer advice specific to your medical situation.
- Booking your holiday can be difficult even without having the effects of a stroke.
If your stroke has left you with mobility problems, check with your accommodation provider, travel provider and holiday company whether they can provide the right assistance, care and/or equipment. For example, if you’re in a wheelchair, are there any disabled parking spaces? Is the door to the bathroom wide enough for you to get in and out with ease? Is there wheelchair access?
- Make sure you research medical facilities local to your destination as they may be different from home and in case of an emergency you may need to access them. Find out where they are and what the local emergency number is.
- Invest in a good travel insurance policy that covers you and your condition for what you want to do on holiday.
- It may sound silly, but ‘train’ for your trip. You always plan on doing more on holiday than you do for the same amount of time at home, so gently push yourself and build up your stamina for all the sight-seeing you’ll be doing but don’t over-do it. If you feel tired, take it easy.
- Take extra copies of the itinerary and plan times for leaving and arriving at different points on your trip. This should make you think a bit more about any extra time you need in between things because of mobility issues, toilet breaks, food breaks etc.
- If you’re coping with aphasia as an after-effect of having a stroke, sight-seeing can be particularly difficult whilst on holiday. Tour guides can have accents, talk fast and quote names, dates and numbers at a pace which is hard to process. Get through this by picking up any brochures which are likely to have similar information in, or ask a travel companion to write things on a notebook so you can understand what is being said.