5 Tips for Traveling with Chronic Illness

traveling with chronic illness

travel well with chronic illness

Photo courtesy of Unsplash by Mantas Hesthaven

Article Written by Guest Blogger Henry Moore

To see more of his work, check him out here: The Fitwell Traveler



Being diagnosed with a chronic illness can feel devastating at the time. You might be in shock or denial at first. You might also worry about whether you’ll be able to live a normal, healthy life. If you’re someone who travels frequently, whether for work or for pleasure, you might also wonder whether you’ll be able to continue seeing the world.

Although there is some confusion over specifically which conditions should be classified as “chronic,” it is generally understood that a chronic illness is one that is either continually ongoing or recurrent over a long period of time. Whether or not your chronic illness has a cure, the good news is that it doesn’t have to stop you from finding ways to travel.

With a little planning ahead – plus a few extra health precautions – you can certainly travel with or without a chronic illness. In fact, if your chronic illness includes mental or emotional health symptoms such as depression or anxiety, travel might actually help alleviate some of your symptoms.

If you’ve decided it’s time for a vacation, here are some tips for traveling with chronic illness:

● Choosing Your Destination. When choosing a destination, you’ll want to consider two things: 1) is the destination ideal for someone with your condition, and 2) is there a safe way for someone with your condition to get to that destination? For example, if you have an immune deficiency, you may not want to travel to parts of the world that put you at risk for certain diseases. Likewise, if you’re at risk of blood clots, your body may not be able to handle a long-distance flight to the other side of the world. Consider these factors when booking your trip – and don’t hesitate to ask your doctor’s professional opinion.

● Getting There… Before you purchase plane tickets, talk to your doctor about whether or not it is safe for you to fly. Depending upon your condition, you might need to undergo medical tests such as heart monitoring prior to being given the greenlight to fly – especially for long-distance travel. When purchasing flights, give yourself some extra time. A one-hour window to catch a connecting flight in a large, busy airport may not be enough time, especially if your prior flight gets delayed. Chronic illness or not, it’s best to avoid this unneeded stress when traveling. If you can afford it, give yourself more time between flights, even if it means paying a little extra.

● What to Pack… To avoid germs at the airport, bring a face mask and hand sanitizer. Obviously, you’ll also want to bring any necessary medications with you. Obtain doctors’ notes explaining why you need certain medications and check airline and security regulations about flying with medications in your luggage. Flying internationally? Be sure to check with local embassies about your prescription and over-the-counter medications before you depart on your trip.

● Get creative. If you’ve recently had a surgery, or have certain conditions that make it unsafe for you to fly, it doesn’t have to kill your travel plans. You might just have to get creative with road trips to travel destinations. This isn’t always a bad thing as road trips bring a new perspective to travel, without exposing you to the germs you’d encounter at the airports.

● Plan a staycation. Sometimes, traveling out of your own city just isn’t in the cards – but that doesn’t mean you can’t experience the benefits of travel from your own home. You could still plan a staycation and explore places around your own city. Do some volunteer work or make time for self-care. These activities may relieve stress and bring a smile to your face.

Living with a chronic illness doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t live a joyful life. As you can see, it’s very possible to continue traveling and experiencing many otherwise normal activities and milestones. Don’t let your diagnosis control your life; by following the tips listed above, you’ll be able to improvise and creatively plan your next vacation. Good luck and safe travels!

Want to learn more? Sign up for our email list below to get premium access to online courses, new blog posts and educational content! Once you sign up, you will get our FREE GIFT: The Stress Reduction Activities Worksheet!

Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required