Tips to Prepare for Traveling with Lung Cancer

LUNGevity Foundation

Traveling can be stressful under the best of circumstances, but particularly anxiety-inducing after a cancer diagnosis. Being diagnosed with cancer does not have to put an end to travel, whether for business or leisure. Sometimes you might even have to travel for treatment itself. Proper planning and preparation can help alleviate this stress and ensure an enjoyable trip.

If you are planning a trip and have lung cancer, be sure to check out these tips before your travels!

Give your medical team a heads-up that you will be traveling

It is important your medical team know you are traveling, particularly if you are currently undergoing treatment. They might be able to provide some additional tips on how to prepare given your specific diagnosis and treatment. 

Your medical team may have connections with providers in the area where you are traveling. These connections are great backup should something happen while you are away from home.

They can also help you compile a folder of important information you should travel with, such as specifics about your condition, a list of medications, and key contact numbers.  It might be valuable to ask for your medical records or have your doctor provide a complete summary of your care. You might also want to include your insurance information and emergency family contact numbers.

Ensure you have necessary medications

Check to be sure you have enough medication to make it through your trip. If you are worried about refills of your medications, some insurance companies provide overrides to allow you to get refills early. You can also request a prescription signed by your physician to bring with you on your travels.

Ensure that your medication is legal where you are traveling.  Drug approvals differ by country. This includes over-the-counter medications.  Similarly, some countries might require a doctor’s note for whatever medication you have with you. It may help to keep your drugs in their original packaging.

Be sure to pack these medications in your carry-on bag.  Worst-case scenarios do happen, such as luggage being lost or stolen, and you do not want to be in an unfamiliar location without necessary medications.

Check vaccinations required

You may be required to have certain vaccinations before you travel to certain countries. Be sure to check what these vaccinations are. Consult with your medical team before moving forward with vaccinations to ensure there will be no negative effect when combined with your current treatment.

Review your health insurance

Check with your insurance company about what sort of coverage your policy provides, particularly if you are traveling outside the US. Some will require specific steps to ensure coverage, such as preferred hospitals or physicians, while others may not cover you at all when you are away. If your insurance does not cover travel, there is traveler’s insurance available for purchase that could be worth considering in the event any medical care is needed on your trip.

Purchase mouth masks and hand sanitizer

When you are undergoing treatment, particularly chemotherapy, you have a much higher risk of infection than the average person. Air travel also increases your risk of infection. It is important to take precautions to help your body stay healthy enough to fight the cancer. Mouth masks and hand sanitizer can help you avoid any germs or viruses others around you might have.

Plan ways to avoid deep vein thrombosis

Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a condition caused by blood clots deep in the veins of your legs. Both cancer and air travel can make you more susceptible to DVT. It’s important to take precautions to avoid it, especially during long car rides or long flights.  Walk to the bathroom every hour on the plane, flex and stretch your legs in your seat, or stop mid-car ride for a quick walk if possible.

Traveling with lung cancer is not impossible. Be sure to take the right steps before you trip, and you can enjoy travel as you did before your diagnosis!

Want to hear about a trip from the perspective of a lung cancer survivor? Check out Kerry Beldin's blog about her trip to the Maldives here.

Blog category: 
-> Survivorship
Living well with lung cancer

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