Top tips for travelling with cancer patients

If a friend or relative is diagnosed with cancer, they don’t just need your support through their various stages of treatment, they also need your guidance when looking to relax and unwind. A holiday can give cancer patients the valuable time and space they need to come to terms with the illness or to simply rest after finishing active treatment.

When travelling with a cancer patient, there’s a number of responsibilities you must consider before, during and after the holiday itself. Every patient is different and may require no additional assistance at all but for others, a helping hand may be just the thing they need to relax during their break.

Here’s a handful of top tips to keep in mind.

Preparation is key
Having cancer might not affect the ability to travel long distances or it could ensure special arrangements have to be made at airports, hotels and venues at your destination. Cancer varies from person to person but one thing remains constant: preparation is essential when travelling domestically and internationally.

Planning a trip means less stress for you and your travel partner in the long run. Tara Hawkins, a cancer sufferer writing for, noted a few tips that could help you plan a holiday including noting down a few essential phrases of the language of the country you are visiting. For instance, ‘sugar free’ in French is ‘sans sucre’ while vegetarian in Spanish is ‘vegetarien’.
Hawkins also mentioned ordering all the medicine your partner needs for the length of the trip. It is also worth double checking your holiday partner has visited their GP and got the all-clear to travel. All prescription medications should be kept in hand luggage instead of checked suitcases in case of emergency. If possible, bring extra supplies in case of delays at airports.

Emergency care
It’s worth knowing the potential risks of travelling with a cancer patient and knowing how to deal with situations that may require your help. For instance some patients may find it difficult to seek care when away from home, especially in a foreign country, in the event they come down with a fever or infection. In addition, a person with cancer is also at higher risk of having a blood clot which can develop when sitting down for a long period of time (like on a long-haul flight) and it can be life threatening if not treated properly. Overall, your guidance and support will be crucial in helping your travel partner get the medical care they need.

Acquiring appropriate insurance
Purchasing travel insurance for yourself is easy but for your travel partner, it can be difficult to find the right provider if you don’t know where to look. Some insurers are not keen in insuring travellers with a pre-existing medical condition due to the likelihood of claims in the future.
However, there are specialist firms that insure people with pre-existing medical conditions including cancer. Generally, cancer patients will have to supply a letter from their cancer specialist to the insurance firm in order to give evidence of their disease, but this isn’t always the case, so it may be worth you checking for them first which travel insurance providers need a letter from the specialist and which don’t Whether you can get insurance will also depend on the type of cancer you have. You should also prepare your holiday partner for questions about their diagnosis, treatment and prognosis so the insurer has a better idea of the stage of cancer. It may prove stressful for your travel partner but the importance of acquiring travel insurance for pre-existing medical conditions cannot be understated.

Choice of destination
What may seem like the ideal holiday for you might not be appropriate for your travel partner. A beach holiday in 35 degree Celsius weather or a hiking trip up Mt Fiji could be the perfect getaway for you but the energy levels of your partner may not agree!

Some cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy, cause fatigue during and after treatment. Furthermore such treatments also make skin temporarily (or permanently) more sensitive to sun damage so consider the health of your travel partner against the climate and terrain of your chosen holiday destination. Find a middle ground that both you and your travel partner will both enjoy.
These are just a few top tips worth bearing in mind when travelling with a person suffering from cancer. Overall, being prepared for every situation and offering a helping hand every step of the way is the best support you can offer.

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