The holiday season is a major time for travel. Traveling is stressful enough, but if you’re a cancer patient undergoing chemotherapy, you may run into more barriers than usual. For example – what do you do with your medicine? Do you need vaccinations? How do you prep for travel beforehand? It is important you plan ahead and take the necessary precautions. Here are some tips you can follow so you can enjoy your holiday and travel with less stress.
Find out where you can get medical care where you plan to visit
In the case of an emergency, or if you need medical care, you should know where the closest hospital is. Before you leave, search online for hospitals around where you are staying and consult with your doctor. If your doctor has given you instructions or prescriptions for lab testing while you’re away, be sure to give your health care team telephone numbers where you can be reached in case the office needs to get in touch with you
Get vaccinated, if necessary
You may already be up-to-date on vaccinations; however, you should talk to your doctor about any additional vaccinations before traveling. If you are going abroad to another country, you may need to see an infectious disease travel specialist. Talk with your doctor to see what is best for you and how to prevent from contracting certain illnesses and diseases.
Pack more medicine than you’ll think you’ll need to last the entire trip
When traveling, you never know what can happen. You may get delayed and have to stay an extra couple of days or you may misplace some medicine. If you are flying and checking baggage, keep your medicines in your carry-on just in case your bag gets lost. You should also take copies of all of your prescriptions with you, in case you need a refill. Try to avoid any changes to your dosages and prescriptions right before your trip.
Be careful about the food and water you consume
You should talk with your doctor about what foods and drinks you should avoid. This is even more important if you on a neutropenic diet. If you are traveling abroad, check water safety guidelines, as the water is not safe to drink in some countries.
Pack medical information with you
You should take a list of medications with doses, allergies, your insurance card, and telephone numbers of all your doctors and pharmacies. If you are on treatment, or have a complex medical history, it would be helpful to take a recent note from your doctor about your condition. You should also carry your ID card for your implanted port, pump, or other device. This will help you avoid problems at airport and building security. If you do not have the card, ask your doctor for a note outlining the type, location, and purpose of the device.
Protect yourself from the sun
You should always wear sunscreen and protect yourself from UV rays, but this is especially important for people undergoing cancer treatment. Cover your skin with a wide brimmed hat, sleeved shirts, and pants. Your sunscreen should have an SPF of at least 30, and should be applied to all exposed skin 30 minutes before exposure.
If you’re planning a holiday trip, or if you have any other questions about cancer treatment or a diagnosis, please visit the UPMC Hillman CancerCenter online or consult with an expert.