3 tips for traveling with cancer

Middle-Aged Woman with an Inflatable RaftIf you’re living with cancer or are a caregiver to a loved one with cancer, a weekend getaway this Labor Day may not only seem frivolous, but also completely impossible! However, taking a small time out from this scary and complicated time may be exactly what the doctor ordered.

Taking a vacation doesn’t have to mean traveling a long-distance or doing any stressful or high-impact activities—the key is to relax and enjoy time away from your everyday life. If now is not the right time for you to get away, you can still plan a “staycation” and relax right where you are. Here are our top three tips for planning a safe and healthy vacation or “staycation” this Labor Day.

1. Talk to your Doctor. 

Before you head anywhere this weekend talk to your health care team to determine if now is the right time to travel away from home, if there are any special considerations you should take (such as avoiding air travel or sun exposure) and if there are any conflicts with current treatments and appointments.

2. Don’t forget medications.

Wherever you decide to go, you should pack enough medications for the length of your trip, plus a few extras in case you have unexpected delays or accidentally lose a pill. Keep a list of all emergency contacts, medications and allergies with you in case you need medical attention while you’re away from home. If you are traveling with multiple bags, you may want to make sure all your medications are in the bag most accessible to you (like your carry-on if you’re flying).

3. Plan your activities carefully.

Your vacations may not be what they once were pre-diagnosis, but that doesn’t mean they can’t still be fun for everyone. If you get tired frequently, you may want to structure your itinerary with built-in rests periodically so you don’t wear yourself out before the trip is over. If you’re unable to leave town, you can still enjoy your long weekend. Find some places near home that you haven’t been able to visit since your diagnosis. Wherever you go, remember to choose activities that won’t cause stress or anxiety—this vacation is about YOU!

For more tips on enjoying your long weekend, try out some of our relaxation techniques and stress management tips.


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  • Andrew Stubbs

    A few of points that you haven’t mentioned.
    1) try and split your medication between two bags, just in case one goes missing or stolen.
    2) when travelling double check your travel insurance, are you still covered now that you have cancer. If you need find insurance, shop around. I have the prices offered can vary wildly. When I had quotes as high £1000 down to £100. Never assume that insurance provided free of charge by some banks is OK, it most likely isn’t.
    3) again when travelling abroad , try and get a letter from your doctor, firstly saying that you OK to travel (some airlines can get funny about sick people).
    Secondly, the letter should explain you illness (this could prove really helpful if you find yourself in a foreign hospital, even better if you could into the relevant language of the country you are visiting. You can’t expect a foreign doctor to be able to understand the complex details of your treatment).
    Lastly, ask you doctor to list all of the drugs you need with an explanation what each one is for, ( this is more for customs officers, they most likely wouldn’t have heard of some the drugs are taking. Customs also like to see any medication in it’s own packaging with the users name and supplier doctor on it.
    Also if for some reason you need to find a pharmacy for a top up it would be great to have something in their own language , this should expedite your prescription, and remember you will most likely have to for these up front, then claim it off your insurance later.)