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Tips on travelling with cancer conditions

While some types of the disease may cause physical problems that make travelling more difficult; many people experience enjoyable, uneventful trips overseas.

By taking some of the same precautions that any holidaymaker would, you can give yourself the best possible chance of not becoming ill or having an accident whilst overseas. Naturally, you would also bear in mind any preparations you might think of regarding your own medical condition.

Ensure that you have the best information about your own condition and the facilities overseas to enable you to make an informed decision about the right destination, and time to visit, for you.

Planning a trip

Plan well in advance to ensure that you are not disappointed or have to lose out financially in any way.

Discuss any travel plans with your oncologist/cancer nurse before booking or paying a deposit.

  • Be realistic in your travel plans, especially if you have undergone major surgery, extensive chemotherapy, or a combination of the two.
  • For your first trip consider a short haul destination (preferably one that you are familiar with) to build up your confidence - depending on the nature of your illness.
  • Does your destination offer adequate facilities if your condition took an unexpected, and severe, turn for the worse? Would you be able to manage?

Travelling and medical care, to read more click here.

Pre travel

When travelling within the EU, ensure that you have your EHIC (European health insurance card).

  • Pack all your prescribed medications safely in your hand luggage together with a separate additional supply of say 50%. Some medications may be difficult to obtain overseas; if you take extra then you'll have some reassurance in case of any travel mishaps.
  • Some medicines (such as morphine based pain killers) may require a licence. Your hospice or hospital will be able to obtain this for you but give them plenty of notice.
  • If you have recently had a stoma formation, ensure that you are comfortable with the necessary care and take the same amount of supplies as you would medications.
  • If you have had a mastectomy, there are many specialist swimsuits available. Cancerbackup or your hospital will be able to give you details.

During travel 

  • Ensure that your valuables (especially medications) are kept with you at all times.
  • Drink plenty of soft drinks and move around as much as you are can. Liquids will keep you hydrated and walking (by getting those calf muscles moving) will help reduce the risk of DVT.

While there

  • If you have undergone radiotherapy you should take extra care to ensure that the irradiated area is not exposed to the sun for the first year. After this, the skin will be a little more delicate so take extra care. ALWAYS use a high sun factor protection and keep out of the sun between 11am and 3pm and wear a wide brimmed hat.
  • If you are unsure as to whether the water quality is adequate, drink bottled water and ensure that the seals are intact before opening. Avoid ice unless you are sure that it has been made with bottled water.
  • Eat freshly prepared, piping hot food

What are the increased risks for travellers who have been treated for cancer? Read more here.

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