Traveling with Cancer

It is the time of year when we all get excited about travel and adventure. We can’t help ourselves. The community pools open up. The kids are getting out of school.  Longer days and barbeque are the order of business. We pull out our American Flags out on Memorial Day weekend and keep them unfurled past Labor Day as long as the climate will allow.

Whether it is a road trip, a camping adventure, or a global gallop, the urge to get out and see new things is pretty universal in the summer. If you or a loved one is undergoing treatment of any kind, including cancer and other significant illnesses, there are just a few other things to consider that will make your trip better and allow you to relax a bit more.

  1. Plan as far ahead as you can to allow time to think through the details of your treatment regimen. You can seek guidance from your doctors well ahead of time to see what special arrangements you should make with all of your transportation providers and hotels. Most will gladly accommodate special needs if you ask nicely and well in advance. (Call hotels and airlines directly; they have agents on site in the United States during business hours who can help and make notes on the record of your request so that check in is faster and your needs are met!)  This can include special rooms in hotels that are easier to access and set up for use with wheelchairs, for example, or even just an upgraded seat (on stand by) on a plane, train, or bus so you can get up and down more easily or be nearer to the restroom. Sometimes they have special rates, products, additional services (like spa and wellness treatments) and even the ability to work through guest services to make your time special. Remember, they are in hospitality and, generally, they enjoy making guests and travelers happy!
  2. Ask questions about travel specific to your trip so that you understand any additional steps you need to take, or additional supplies you might require. For example, air travel can impact lung cancer patients more than some others. Make sure you are safe to travel by whatever means you have chosen, and if there is anything you can do to make the trip easier, that you are able to do it.
  3. Get letters on letterhead from your doctor to carry with you. This might be useful if you have any issues in security lines and, heaven forbid, you need medical attention abroad, you will want the doctors to have quick facts about the circumstances of your illness and treatment.
  4. Look into your health care provider and your credit cards’ fine print regarding treatment and costs when traveling out of the country. Fine print can have great perks and great penalties if you are not careful. If you are not sure, call a customer service line and speak to someone to ensure that you understand the ramifications of seeking medical help outside of your hometown area. You might want special travel insurance, so do not forget that is an option also.
  5. Plan to carry essential medicine and equipment with you at all times. Luggage gets lost. You do not want to have to replace medicine or equipment in a pinch or in another language. You may also want to carry something with the names, doses, and instructions for your medications just in case.
  6. Finally, try to live in the moment. Vacations and getaways are vitally important for our ability to recharge, relax, and rejuvenate. Do not waste any time (if you can help it) worrying about your circumstances. Take in the sites. Enjoy the sounds and flavors. Keep a journal if you are so inclined. Snap a few great photos and do your best to really enjoy the time away. Remember, gratitude is an attitude and a little goes a long way to transforming a glass from half empty to half full!

Enjoy summer! Bon voyage!