Living with a long-standing medical condition can be challenging at the best of times. But it can make everything seem especially stressful and complicated when it comes to planning a holiday abroad.
People coping with medical conditions might even be put off travelling altogether. The risks of stepping outside normal routines and support networks might not seem worth it. What if I have a turn for the worse and need medical treatment? What if I need extra medication? What if the change in food or climate makes my symptoms worse?
But in reality, thousands of people travel abroad with pre-existing medical conditions every day. Part of managing an illness is getting to a point where it does not stop you doing the things you really want to do. And when it comes to going abroad, the key to it is having the foresight to plan ahead and know how you will deal with the risks.
Speak to your doctor
The most important thing is to consult your doctor before you confirm your plans. They are best placed to offer advice on whether you are well enough to travel, and how to manage your condition while abroad. They will be able to give guidance on diet and other precautions to take while you are away, signpost you to additional information and resources, and prescribe medication to take with you.
Ensure you have enough medication for the duration
Taking all the medication you will need with you is important because it might not be straightforward to get a prescription in another country if you need one. Medicines often have different brand names in different countries, so doctors and pharmacists may not recognise what you ask for.
In case of an emergency, it is a good idea to carry prescriptions with you – ask your doctor to write the generic name for the medication on the script, rather than any brand names. You might also ask your GP to write a letter explaining your condition and medication needs to give to anyone you need to consult.
Speak to your airline and accommodation provider
If you have any specific needs arising from your medical condition, such as mobility or diet, it is strongly advised to speak to your airline ahead of time. You will be able to arrange assistance for moving through the airport and onto the plane, and of course make sure you get a suitable onboard meal. The same applies to your accommodation – if people are forewarned, they will be able to help you more.
Get appropriate travel insurance
Before you head abroad, it is imperative that you take out travel insurance which will give you an appropriate level of medical cover for your condition. General policies only cover standard treatments, and may even be invalidated if you have a condition which you don’t declare.
There are numerous options for taking out single trip travel insurance with pre-existing medical conditions. The best plan is to seek a bespoke policy tailored for your specific condition. This type of cover will spell out exactly the level of protection you get for specific treatments you might need, leaving no grey areas for you to worry about.
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