- Clear travel plans with your doctor.
It’s important to work closely with your physician to plan your vacation. You’ll first want to get his clearance that travel is safe and feasible for you. He can help you devise a travel plan that will take into consideration your special needs and prepare for any unseen emergencies that could arise.
Inform your physician that you wish to travel, where you’ll be going, and how you’ll get there. Review the rest of the travel tips below with him to make sure your travel plans are as safe and comprehensive as possible.
- Find a local hospice or palliative care physician at your destination.
If you are a hospice patient and will be taking an extended vacation, you may want to consider transferring hospices for the time you’ll be away. Finding a hospice in the area that you’ll be staying in and enrolling in their program for the time you’ll be there can ensure that there is no interruption of your care. You’ll still have nurses to check in on you and someone to call in the event of an emergency. You’ll also feel confident that you can easily get medication refills or new prescriptions for any symptoms that arise.
If you’re not a hospice patient but under the care of a palliative care physician, you can work with your doctor to find a physician in the area where you’ll be going. Your current physician can speak to the new one and send her any information she may need in case she needs to take over your care while you're there. Again, this is a way for you to feel confident that you’ll get the care you need when you need it most.
- Find a local pharmacy where you’ll be traveling.
Have the name and number of a local, preferably 24 hour, pharmacy where you’ll be staying. If your vacation is relatively short (one week or less), this may be sufficient to make sure your needs are met. Give the name and phone number of the pharmacy to your hospice agency or palliative care physician. This way, if you have any new symptoms or need emergency refills of existing medications, they will have the information to call in a prescription for you.
If your traveling out of state, a prescription from you physician may not be valid. This is another good reason to find a hospice or palliative care physician where you'll be staying.
- Stock up on important medications.
The best way to make sure you won’t need to use a new pharmacy is to have plenty of medication with you when you travel. Ask your physician for refills if you need them and make sure you have at least one weeks worth of medication longer than you’ll be staying. For example, if your vacation is expected to last one week, you’ll want at least two weeks worth of medication. Having an extra supply on hand will ensure that you’re covered if your vacation needs to be extended or if your dose needs to be increased while you are away.
- Travel safely with medications.
The safest way to travel with medications is to make sure it is with you at all times. If you are flying or taking a train or bus, don’t leave your medications in your luggage; carry them in a bag that you keep with you at all times. Keep all your medications in their original bottles to avoid any medication errors.
- Prepare to travel with oxygen.
If you will be traveling with oxygen, it’s important to research the applicable rules and regulations. Airlines are the strictest about traveling with oxygen and each airline has different rules. Be sure to ask the airline, bus, or train that you’ll be traveling on about their regulations and restrictions.
Regardless of how you travel, the most important thing for you to do is arrange oxygen therapy where you’ll be staying. Find a local oxygen supply company and arrange delivery or pick up of an oxygen concentrator and for any refills needed for your portable tanks.
For more in depth information about traveling with oxygen, see Tips for Traveling with Oxygen
- Have a plan in place in case of emergency.
What if your condition worsens while you’re traveling? What if you become too weak to travel back home? What if you need be hospitalized while you’re there?
These aren’t easy scenarios to consider but there is no sure way of knowing that something like this won’t happen. It’s best to consider the worst case scenarios and have a plan in place should something go wrong.
- Consider nutrition.
Decreased appetite and weight loss are often unavoidable side effects of serious illness. If you’ve been struggling with this, you’ve probably already found a system that works for you, whether it’s frequent small meals of palatable foods or meal supplement shakes. Keep nutrition in mind when traveling to make sure you maintain optimal nutrition.
Carry some meal supplement shakes with you in your luggage and find a store where you’ll be staying to replenish your supply. You may want to talk to friends or relatives your visiting to warn them of your food aversions or meal requirements. Ask them have plenty of your favorite foods on hand so you’ll always be able nourish yourself.
- Make sure you have plenty of support.
Vacationing in good health is often draining; traveling in poor health can be down right exhausting. Make sure that your travel companion is capable of helping and supporting you for the duration of your vacation. It’s also helpful to make any friends or relatives you’ll be visiting aware of your current physical state and any limitations you have. This will allow them to prepare whatever they need to fully support you during your stay.
- Have a great time!
You’ve gone through a lot of planning and preparation to get ready for this trip. You’ve covered all your bases and have a plan in place to make sure you’re as comfortable and safe as possible. Now you can sit back and reap the rewards. Enjoy your vacation and the company of your loved ones!