When you’re in the midst of cancer treatment, a simple weekend away seems unrealistic. But traveling with cancer is not impossible. Besides being logistically feasible, it can be a welcome relief or escape from the daily treatment routine. With just some extra advanced planning, you can be out the door for a weekend away or a longer excursion.
What to Do Before You Travel
Before you begin to plan your travel, make sure your doctor knows about your plans. Check your preferred dates with any upcoming treatment schedule and ask your doctor what recommendations she has for traveling with cancer. Next up is booking transportation. If you’re planning a trip that includes airfare, consider purchasing the travel insurance. Since traveling with cancer is sometimes unpredictable, it’s wise to invest in the insurance so you can recuperate your money should you be unable to travel during your planned time.
Once you have transportation and lodging settled, you should look into accommodations. While you don’t have to tell your hotel concierge that you have cancer or health-related considerations, it’s helpful to call in advance to request any special needs, such as dietary restrictions, wheelchair accessibility or refrigeration needs (for medications). Further, look ahead to find the closest hospital to your hotel so you’re prepared should anything happen that warrants medical attention.
What to Do While You Pack
A week prior to leaving, make sure you have plenty of your prescribed medications and any supplies, such as syringes or alcohol wipes. Refill any medications as necessary and pack enough medication to get you through your trip, plus a few extra days worth in case there are any extra travel delays. Consider searching for pharmacies near your hotel that have your medical information on file. Most national chains will happily refill prescriptions from any location, which is convenient if any medication questions or issues come up. If you’re traveling via air, your medications should be in your carry-on bag. According to the Transportation Service Administration (TSA), labeling your medications clearly will help with the screening process and make for a less stressful check in.
When packing your suitcase, don’t forget to include necessary (and up-to-date) medical information. Include an updated list of medications, doctor information and any Power of Attorney or Advanced Directives documents, too.
What to Do While You Travel
Traveling with cancer is never easy and you shouldn’t attempt to do it alone. Instead, bring a buddy or a family member. Your companion should know about your condition and have access to any emergency information or medications while being aware of and prepared for any necessary protocol. If you find yourself needing extra assistance, whether it is physically or emotionally, ask for it. Your travel companion would be happy to grab you a wheelchair if you’re feeling weak or a restaurant would be happy to serve you a vegetarian meal. Make your needs known and ask for help when appropriate.
While you certainly want to see the sights and enjoy your time away from home, don’t make the mistake of taking on too much too fast. Plan rest times during your daily schedule and don’t skip meals. Your body needs all the energy it can get to enjoy the trip. Stay hydrated, eat nutritious meals and rest daily.
Lastly, enjoy yourself! Sure, cancer may call for earlier bedtimes and taking pills after breakfast. But leaving the treatment routine for a few days pays off in new memories and a refreshed attitude.