Travelling With A Chronic Illness

Travelling with a Chronic Illness:

I wrote a blog post on how other fellow travel bloggers ‘travel despite having health issues.’ So I decided to explain more in depth about how I travel with a chronic illness. I was born with a physical disability but in the last 3 years I developed ‘chronic pain’ in my spine. So severe that I require(d) surgery and pain relief.

During the time of waiting for surgery, I did travel with pain relief. Which wasn’t as simple as some might think. This may sound crazy but I actually travelled to Bali when I had chronic pain. When I booked my trip to Bali I thought that my surgery would have been done by the time I left. I was wrong…so in this blog post I will write about my experience travelling with a chronic illness. Along with a few tips and pieces of advice based on my experiences.

Here are some quick answered common questions people would like to know:

Travel Insurance?

Travel insurance for me is a complicated process due to my disability. You can choose to be covered if you have an illness or disability. Which I recommend especially if you’re travelling abroad. Although it will most likely be more expensive than a simple travel insurance package. It is better to be covered just incase something happens while you’re over there. Everyone should have travel insurance even if they don’t have an illness or disability.

How did I pack for my trip abroad?

I put all my prescription medication in my backpack to carry on board. As I actually needed to take pain relief during my flight. I also didn’t want to risk the situation where the airline would loose my suitcase kinda thing. Because then I would be in a real painful (literally) situation.

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Travelling with a chronic illness or disability:

Most if not all airlines have policies in place to help people who have disabilities or illness’s board the plane. The airlines I have travelled with have all had the option of a wheelchair lift. That lifts you and your wheelchair to the aircraft. (If you’re flying domestic). If you are flying internationally, they usually just wheel you to the aircraft door. As they have a jet bridge directly lined up with the aircraft door for passengers to get on and off the plane.
They also have isle seats available so if you cannot walk down the isle of a plane yourself, they have isle wheelchairs. The wheelchairs are made to fit down the isle and allow you to be wheeled to your seat. At some airports they have hoists available to help you to be seated on the aircraft.

How to board a plane:

I do have a feeling that there are certain policies with some airlines in some situations where they cannot actually help a person physically. Incase they accidentally injure someone. I would definitely recommend taking a friend or a career with you if you need. If you take your own wheelchair overseas, depending on the airline – most of the time, it is free to check in with your checked baggage. Airlines usually have rules in regards to electric (motorised) wheelchairs. Depending on what kind of batteries are in your wheelchair, sometimes if your wheelchair has a certain type of battery – it is not allowed to be booked onto a plane. (Safety hazard). Manual wheelchairs however, that require no batteries are much easier (personal experience) to book on with your baggage.

Customs?! Security?!

I had a written letter from my doctor stating which medications I was bringing with me. Just like every one else – I put everything in a clear see-through bag with labels on all of my medication. Which states my name and what the medication is and what it’s for.

What happens if you run out of pain relief or forget a medication at home?

I made sure that I had more than enough to get me through my trip abroad. A good idea is to pack some extra medication incase your flight gets cancelled going home or something. I also talked to my doctor about this and she ensured that I was fully equipped for my trip. I did actually forget one of my medications at home. Thankfully I could just go to the pharmacy and get what I needed as it was just an ordinary medication that you can buy in store. If you forget a very important medication, I would recommend taking appropriate action such as going to see a doctor or go to the local hospital. (Hence why you should book travel insurance because that would be very helpful in this situation).

What to do if you’re on a day trip?

I have a medication box that clearly labels which day of the week it is.
You can fill these plastic containers with what you need to take for that day.
This also helps when you need something small to just put in your day bag. Instead of bringing medicine packets or containers with you everywhere you go.

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Healthcare Facilities:

If you require healthcare or have a risk of needing healthcare then I recommend when booking your holiday or trip. That you keep in mind where and if they have good healthcare facilities. Not all places and countries have great, accessible healthcare. Depending on the care you need it may be a costly experience if you go somewhere that doesn’t have the same level of care that you currently receive or need.

Hotels, Resorts – Accommodation:

Always look into accommodation places either online or in a brochure before booking it. I would also recommend researching the destination you’re visiting and the accommodation you’re booking to see if it is accessible for you. It would be much more difficult arriving at a hotel and realising that it is not built for someone in a wheelchair. Or for someone who can’t walk a long way ect.

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I know this sounds like a lot of information to think about but it is very doable. After you have done it once, it gets far easier each time you book a trip somewhere. Just because you have an illness or a disability doesn’t mean you cannot travel. It is very possible. Always remember that airlines and accommodation places have been helping not just the able bodied but also people with illness’s and people in wheelchairs everyday. ~


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