Holiday travel is stressful for anyone, but it’s particularly tough if you’re dealing with health problems.  Here are a few tips to ensure that you maximize the odds of having a safe & healthy trip:

Essential:  travel with a readily available health profile.  If you become ill during your trip, quick access to a summary of your health problems, medications, and other pertinent information could literally be a life or death issue.  Type up a summary of your health profile:  age, blood type, medications & dosages, your physicians’ names and phone numbers, and the name of your insurance carrier, your policy number, and their contact informationGoogle makes this simple with an easily customizable health profile tool.  You’ll need a free Google account, but it only takes seconds to establish one.  Check it out at www.google.com/health

Whatever form your medical profile takes – be it a wallet card or typewritten sheet – make certain it’s readily accessible – even if you’re incapacitated.  Keep it in your wallet, or if appropriate, in a passport/boarding pass wallet with a neck strap.

Whatever you do, pack your meds in your carry-on. In your haste to pack for your trip, don’t make the mistake of putting your medications in your checked baggage.  You may make it to your destination just fine, but your baggage might not, leaving you without your prescription meds.  Always pack them in your carry-on, and bring enough to last at least several days longer than your planned trip, just in case you end up stranded somewhere.

Stay hydrated. When traveling by air in particular, drink plenty of fluids and avoid alcohol – or at most, drink in moderation – as alcohol is a diuretic.  And in general, pay particular attention to hydration no matter what your mode of travel.

Keep moving! If you’ll be taking long flights, car trips or otherwise be stationary for long periods of time, get up and move around periodically to minimize the possibility of deep vein thrombosis.  This is one of those “it could never happen to me” things that unfortunately DOES happen to some people, and it can be fatal.  Regardless of your mode of travel, make sure you get up and move about once an hour or so, as deep vein thrombosis can be caused by immobility.

If you’re traveling internationally, get vaccinated well in advance. TripPrep offers information about vaccinations, embassy listings and crime advisories for 200+ countries.  Select your destination and you’ll discover a wealth of information about it, as well as any advisories and concerns. The site does require registration in order to access the information.  Also, check out Travel.State.gov for much useful information.

A little advance planning will ensure that your trip is both happy and healthy.  Start planning today!

Related:  The no-nonsense guide to staying healthy while on the road



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4 Comments on Holiday travel tips for travelers with health issues

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  2. Jay says:

    Great tips! Thank you. Here are a couple of extra ones I try to live by as well:

    1. Keep photocopies of your passport and all pages with you or in a hotel safe. If you lose your passport the copies will be a huge help when you go to the embassy (or consulate) for a new one.

    2. Do not travel overseas with your driver license if you can help it. It gives away your home address and that can be problems later if you are the victim of identity theft / credit fraud overseas. Leave all of your discount cards, memberships, etc at home too. The less information you bring the less you have to worry about losing.

    3. Bring a backpack / travel bag with you and use it. My rule of thumb is never to keep anything in my roll aboard / check in bags that I can’t live without.

    4. Thoroughly examine your bags before you leave your house / hotel for the airport. Sometimes your kids (or family / friends) use your bags and you never know what they left in them. Avoid embarassment / trouble at the airport in security and make sure there’s nothing in there that shouldn’t be.

    Paranoid? Yep… but they’re lessons learned by experience. ;]

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  3. Adriano says:

    My twopence.
    DO bring your driver’s licence. It is often considered as proof of identity, so it can help you if another one is lost/stolen (and, anyway, your address is on the national ID, at least here in Europe)
    – Learn or write down the active ingredients of the prescription drugs you use – and of the ones you cannot use. Many products have different commercial names abroad, and knowing the substances that you can take (or the one which make you feel bad) helps the doctor/chemist to give you the right stuff. Moreover, this allows you to buy cheaper medicines to bring back home.

    [Reply]

  4. [...] Holiday travel tips for travelers with health issues — Help others help you by keeping your health profile close and accessible. Practical Hacks [...]

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