Tips for Travelling Safely with Medical Conditions

Holiday assistance or specialist requirements with pre-existing medical conditions

If you are travelling with pre-existing medical conditions, read our tips to help you have a safe and comfortable journey.

As part of your travel plans, you need to make sure you consider any assistance or specialist requirements you may have.

In order to ensure you get the help you need, it is important you consider your requirements before you travel. It is therefore important to check that any airports, hotels, car rental companies and so on can meet your requirements.

Think of everything you might need on a trip such as accessible car hire or meals that meet any dietary requirements.

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Airport assistance for travellers with medical conditions

We have teamed up with the UK’s leading provider of airport essentials to make sure your trip is stress-free.

Whether you have a pre-existing medical condition or disability, or you find travelling a little more difficult, our convenient range of airport hotels, car parks and lounges are there to ensure you get the help you need, making your travelling experience easier and more enjoyable.

  • Airport Hotels – disabled friendly hotels available with or without parking
  • Airport Parking – discount if booked in advance with Meet and Greet option available
  • Airport Lounges – take away the hustle and bustle of travelling

Find out more

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Medications, inoculations and health precautions while travelling

Important things to remember when travelling with pre-existing medical conditions include:

  • You will need to see approval from airlines and airports to carry your medicines and be able to provide supporting documentation such as a GP’s letter or a copy of a prescription to prove you require them.
  • Research and receive 6-8 weeks before travelling any inoculations you may require against illnesses such as malaria, typhoid, yellow fever and Hepatitis A.
  • If you are not used to flying and don’t know how it may affect your medical conditions, speak to your GP about this as they will be able to guide you through any considerations you need to make.
  • Order enough prescription medications you take to cover the length of stay and, for added reassurance, for a bit longer if possible.
  • If you plan on being away for a significant length of time, talk through your travel plans with your doctor to ensure you can access necessary medications.
  • Make sure your medicines are safely stowed and accessible.
  • When travelling, keep enough for your journey and a couple of days more in your hand luggage whilst storing the rest in your hold luggage.
  • Once at your destination keep them in your room safe if your accommodation has one.

You can also read a handy NHS destination-by destination health guide which includes inoculation advice.

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Take out travel insurance for pre-existing medical conditions

This might seem to be stating the obvious, but research by The Association of British Travel Agents found that 24% of us travelled without insurance – whilst 20% of travellers visited a hospital or doctor whilst abroad.

You can find useful advice on what to look for in an insurance policy on the Foreign Office website. We would also recommend that you consider your specific situation, for example, if you need to travel with a carer, will you be covered for a replacement if they are taken ill or injured? The same too for any prescription medications which you may rely on.

Remember – When applying for insurance, make sure you fully disclose all pre-existing conditions. Do not be tempted to gloss over the truth in the hope of getting a lower premium because should you need to make a claim, an insurer may well decline it – potentially leaving you high and dry, and out of pocket, far from home.

We strongly recommend you consider choosing a specialist travel insurance policy that specialises in protecting pre-existing medical conditions. A standard travel policy whilst being cheaper, is highly unlikely to offer the protection you need should you have a significant disability of pre-existing condition.

Look to cover the whole party with the one provider so that in the event the holiday needs to be cancelled because of a medical condition or curtailed because you became unwell, they can claim under the policy.

Get a travel insurance for pre-existing medical conditions quote

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Preparing to travel with pre-existing medical conditions

  • Try and ensure you reserve a good seat. Even within the same class and fare some seats are much better than others.
  • Consider an aisle or exit row seat to provide more leg room, or a window seat if you want to sleep.
  • Try and avoid seats near toilets as other passengers will be using these and may bump or knock you.Consider bringing your own food if you have special dietary requirements.
  • Prepare a first aid kit and take it with you – include rehydration sachets.
  • You should tell the airline about any disability at least 48 hours before departure.

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Tips while travelling with medical conditions

  • Try and move around, particularly when on a long journey
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Wear comfortable clothes
  • Stretch often during the journey
  • Try and relax

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Take your own wheelchair

If you use a wheelchair, rather than taking yours abroad, consider hiring locally. If you use a  powered wheelchair this is probably going to be your only practical option.  Remember that airlines and airports will offer wheelchair assistance to get you to the gate and on an aircraft, as will many rail companies and stations: but check, book and confirm before you travel.

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Get a travel insurance for pre-existing medical conditions quote

Get a travel insurance for pre-existing medical conditions quote today

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About the author

Tony Gilpin MCMI, CII COP is a highly respected and chartered industry leader with over 25 years’ experience in travel insurance, tour operators insurance financial failure insurance, travel agents insurance, bonding insurance and the travel industry, specialising in leadership, strategy, sales and account management. He is a Member of the Chartered Management Institute and also holds the Chartered Institute of Insurance's Certificate of Proficiency.