If you’re currently receiving treatment or are recovering from a medical condition, you’ll want to know what you can and can’t do when it comes to travelling abroad. Whilst we aren’t able to cover every illness and condition, we have provided information and tips on how best to travel.
Travelling with cancer
There’s no reason why a cancer diagnosis should limit your travelling. You’ll still want to see the world for the same reasons as everyone else and cancer shouldn’t be the barrier.
It’s not unusual for people with cancer to book up a holiday at the end of their treatment. On the other hand, others will have no qualms about leaving the country after being told the bad news. However, what’s important is to speak to your doctor and get their opinion before arranging a trip. You’ll then know the ins and outs of what you can and can’t do.
There may be a need to make special arrangements. Of course, with so many different types of cancer, your planning will largely be affected by this.
Some of the problems a doctor can help with include:
• Extreme tiredness after treatment
• Risk of infection abroad
• Sun sensitivity
• Sickness and nausea
• Physical strength after surgery
Whilst none of these should affect you being able to travel abroad, they could have an impact on the type of holiday you opt for. For instance, adventure or walking holidays may not be suitable.
If you plan to travel, you should also be aware of occasions when this is ill-advised. Speak to your doctor to confirm when they feel you are fit to travel. Inform them how you intend to travel and where you plan to go including any stop overs. Furthermore, discuss any precautions that you may need to take with them and any facilities they recommend you visit overseas if the need arises.
Travelling with a heart condition
Heart conditions vary from patient to patient and for the most part, as long as the problem is under control and you feel well enough, traveling shouldn’t be restricted. However, if it’s not an ongoing problem and you’re recovering from recent surgery or a heart attack, it’s best to avoid travel until you’re fully recovered.
Again, your GP would be best placed to advise on the best course of action and whether you’re fit enough to travel. Things to consider for those with a heart condition, include:
• Where you’re travelling to
• How you intend on travelling
• The type of travel insurance you need
• Whether you need to travel by plane
• Your pacemakers or ICDs – make sure your clinic checks are up to date and that you have the paperwork related to it with you
To start with, your destination will be important for whether it’s safe to travel. Ideally you want a location that’s convenient, close to amenities and where your body won’t be put under too much strain.
You should avoid travelling to destinations that are:
• Hilly and will put unnecessary strain on your body.
• Are situated at high altitude, where there will be low levels of oxygen.
• Extremes of temperatures i.e. too hot or too cold. You may be surprised to learn that countries with extreme temperatures can put extra strain on your heart.
Before travelling you should also ensure to have contact numbers for emergency services, in case you get in trouble abroad. You’ll want to have all medication with you, including extras just in case some are misplaced or your trip is delayed for any reason.
Travelling by plane is something you’ll want to think about too. Travelling by plane is something you’ll want to think about to determine if your fit to do so. There are some changes in the aeroplane cabin including lower oxygen levels compared to ground level. However, most people are still able to fly.
If you chose to fly speak to your GP/Cardiologist prior to travelling and you may need to inform the airline of your condition so they can arrange supplementary oxygen for the flight in the event you require it.
Again, you’ll need to speak with your GP. Also, whilst the current regulations state you won’t be able to take liquids of more than 100ml onboard, you can get special approval for medicines. Make sure this is done in ample time before the flight.
For those with a pacemaker you’ll also need to take your identification card on the trip. Be aware that a pacemaker or implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) could set off the security alarm at an airport. When being hand searched, you should also ensure a metal detector isn’t placed directly above the device.
Travelling with dementia
If you have Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia, or are travelling with someone else with the disease, it shouldn’t prevent travelling. However, it does mean you need to spend a little longer on the planning phase to ensure everything is seamless.
People with dementia will likely face difficulties at home, let alone abroad and in an area they’re unfamiliar with. Whilst you’re still in the early stages of dementia, the condition is unlikely to cause a problem. However, as your health deteriorates, it could become too overwhelming.
In order to assess the situation, you’ll need to think about the needs, abilities and safety of yourself or the passenger with dementia. For those with advanced dementia, it would be recommended to:
• Choose destinations that are familiar.
• Travel to destinations that will be comfortable and least stressful.
• Avoid long journeys where possible, as this can be disorientating.
Remember, any change in environment can lead someone with dementia to wander, even if they’re still at the early stages. Therefore, you should take care to ensure they’re with company and not left alone for long periods of time.
Bring all the essentials on any trip too. This would include medication, an itinerary, up-to-date medical information and emergency contact names and numbers. Make sure this pack is always in the person’s belongings, so they’ll be able to get help if required when abroad.
Travelling by plane should also be considered. It would be best to avoid this form of transport if the person with dementia is at an advanced stage of the disease. Planes can be disorientating, overwhelming and confusing – so make sure to consider the following:
1. Avoid multiple flights with tight connection times.
2. Inform the airline that you’ll be accompanying someone with dementia, in the situation where they’ll need to help out. When boarding, it may also be worth
letting both the crew and flight attendant know.
3. Consider booking a wheelchair for airport use, even if the patient doesn’t have a physical impairment. This will help you to better navigate through the airport at
4. Give yourself plenty of time.
Travelling with high blood pressure / hypertension
High blood pressure is a condition many people overlook when it comes to travel insurance. Why? Because even though it can be a problem, for the most part it’s easily controlled with the right medication. However, high blood pressure needs to be declared on your travel insurance. This is so your provider can assess the condition and offer the right level of cover.
Before travelling with high blood pressure, consult your GP to seek their advice. Even if you don’t think it’ll have an impact on your adventures, you should still get their expert opinion.
In particular, flying is likely to be one of the major problems and would depend on the medication you’re taking. The British Heart Foundation provide some extra advice on the best course of action. However, if you’re still unsure, make sure to speak with your doctor, who’ll advise whether flying would be safe or not.
There are many situations when flying wouldn’t be advised. This includes when you’ve only started taking medication. Check with your doctor when they feel it’s safe for you to travel. If you’re expecting to be abroad for a considerable amount of time, you should also consider taking a blood pressure monitor with you, so you can continually assess your health.
As you would expect, there are certain types of holidays and activities you could take part in, that would be ill-advised. Above all, this includes water activities – especially scuba diving. Diving can be very hazardous to those with a high blood pressure and you’ll need to be fully checked out before undertaking this.
As high blood pressure affects people differently, it’s difficult to put a definitive answer on what can and can’t be done. Therefore, speaking to your doctor is vital before travelling.
Travelling after a heart attack or stroke
After a heart attack or stroke, it’s not uncommon for people to book a holiday to escape the pressure of everyday life. However, even though the experience is designed to be relaxing, there are a number of things you need to be aware of.
For instance, you should speak to your GP if:
• You’ll need to take oxygen.
• Your fitness has deteriorated.
• You’ve had a recent heart attack or stroke.
• You’ve spent a considerable amount of time in hospital.
• You’ve recently had surgery.
• You have a condition that’s unstable, even with medication.
There’s plenty to be aware of and much will be highlighted by your doctor. However, you’ll also need to speak to the airline you’re travelling with to ensure meeting their regulations. For instance, although oxygen will be allowed onboard, you’ll need to consult with the airline and give them plenty of prior warning.
Even if you don’t require oxygen, you should still consider flying and whether it’s the best idea.
After a recent heart attack you may also have been fitted with a pacemaker. You shouldn’t be worried about these being affected by security controls at an airport, but your implant may still trigger the alarms. Ensure to let security know you have a pacemaker fitted.
For flying, this will depend on your circumstances. Check with your doctor when you are fit to travel following a heart attack. Every patient has different risk factors and recover at different rates. Also, confirm with your doctor what assistance/help you may need at the airport and on the flight.
Check with your doctor when you are able to travel following heart surgery and inform them where you intend to go and how you wish to travel. They will help you decide what assistance you may need at the airport and on the flight. Its helpful to take a copy of your notes including the operative details with you on your trip in the event of an emergency
Following a stroke, the recovery rates are different for every patient. There are also a number of causes for the stroke and this can affect the treatment. Check with your doctor when you are fit to travel and what assistance you may need at the airport and on the flight
It’s important to be aware that even with medical clearance you could still suffer from problems onboard. In order to avoid blood clots and reduce the risk of another attack, bear the following tips in mind:
• Check in early to guarantee a seat with extra legroom. You may need to pay extra for this privilege.
• Ensure to stretch your legs often and keep blood circulating.
• Walk up and down the aisle regularly.
• Don’t wear tight clothing.
• Avoid drinking alcohol and instead, keep hydrated with water.
For more information, please see the following links:
Can I Fly With Cancer?
Holidaying With A Heart Condition:
Travelling Abroad After A Stroke:
Travelling With Cancer: