Top travel tips for people with blood cancer
Many people affected by a blood cancer think that they’ll be unable to continue many of the activities they enjoyed prior to diagnosis, like travelling.
While travel isn’t advisable for some treatment plans and conditions, it can be possible with a little extra planning and by taking some factors into consideration.
You may find the below tips useful for before and during your trip. Remember, you must always talk to your doctor first if you are considering any type of travel.
Before your trip
- Research your medications. Make sure that the drugs you are taking with you are not controlled substances in the countries you are visiting, as there may be restrictions on what and how much you can travel with. Make sure you have enough medication to cover your trip.
- Take a doctor’s note with you. Ask your doctor for a letter outlining the details of your condition, your treatment history, and a list of medications.
- Check your vaccinations. Ask your doctor if your vaccinations are up to date, and see if you need to get inoculated (e.g. hepatitis, typhoid, tetanus). You will need to avoid any live vaccines for the six months following chemotherapy.
- Research travel insurance. It can be difficult to find a travel insurance company that will cover a pre-existing condition like blood cancer. However, there are some companies that will cover you depending on your general health, your blood counts and where you are at in your treatment plan. Otherwise, you can get travel insurance through a multitude of companies to cover other complications that aren’t related to your cancer – for example, if your flight gets delayed, or if the airline loses your luggage.
- Talk to your doctor about your plans. Find out if, when, and where you can travel, and what precautions you need to take. Don’t get discouraged if they advise you against going abroad just yet; you may be able to take a mini break interstate instead.
During your trip
- Get moving! If you’re going to be sitting for long periods of time, you should take some measures to prevent blood clots. Some people with a blood cancer have an increased risk of developing blood clots, as they may have a high level of the proteins and platelets that help the blood to clot. Take short walks as often as possible; do simple leg exercises if you can’t leave your seat too much; wear compression stockings; and have plenty of non-alcoholic drinks.
- Be sun safe. Your skin may be more sensitive and drier after treatment, so protecting it from the elements is important. Wear sunscreen, loose cotton clothing, and a hat.
- Keep up good hygiene practices. Some people are at a higher risk of infection after treatment, plus illnesses like gastro and the flu can ruin even the healthiest person’s holiday! Proper hand washing, eating food that has been properly and freshly cooked, and (in certain countries) drinking bottled water are all easy measures you can take to minimise your risk.
It can be very uplifting to focus on a future holiday while you’re having treatment. Work with your treatment team and take a few simple precautions to ensure you look after yourself while you’re away.