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Travelling with Cancer

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:

    Plan ahead

  • 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.
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