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Tips for Traveling with Cancer or a Terminal Illness

Many people who are diagnosed with cancer or a late-stage illness find that traveling becomes one of the most desirable activities in life aside from spending time with family and loved ones. This is especially true for those who have put off travelling and have had longstanding wishes to see certain parts of the world. However, thorough preparation must go into making travel plans when you have a late-stage cancer or chronic illness. If the right steps are taken, traveling can be enjoyable and not hindered by the illness.

Here are a few tips to help you or your loved one with a terminal illness prepare for a successful trip.

Speak to Your Doctor First

There are certain risks that impose limitations on people with cancer or a terminal illness who are looking to travel, particularly if they are currently being treated. The risk of infection is higher than normal when you’re undergoing chemotherapy and your doctor or oncologist might discourage traveling. They may also restrict you from flying because of the changes in air pressure and oxygen levels could be threatening.

If your doctor permits you to travel, he/she should explain any kind of precautions you should take on the trip and go over a plan for a scenario in which you get sick or experience a new symptom. Ask your doctor any questions that come to mind so that no matter what happens, you’ll be prepared.

Outline Your Treatment Schedule

You won’t have access to your treatment center or doctor’s office while away so it’s important to pack enough medication and any other prescriptions to cover you a few days beyond the length of your trip. Well before you leave, refill your prescriptions and ask your doctor for a copy of any medication information and his/her contact information in case of emergencies. As an extra step, you may want to carry your medication on your person while doing any air travel in the event your checked baggage is lost or stolen.

Choose a Destination and Detail Your Itinerary

With a compromised immune system, it’s important to pick a destination to which you won’t be required to get any vaccinations. Vaccinations are considered dangerous for those with weakened immune systems and if applicable you should stay away from countries where vaccines are recommended. Countries without clean drinking water or places where you know you’ll have prolonged exposure to the sun shouldn’t be considered either without consulting your doctor first.

It’s important to have an itinerary if you are managing a late-stage illness to make sure that most of the trip’s activities are planned and under your control. Things like accounting for enough rest and sleep (hiking trips are typically not recommended), avoiding prolonged exposure to the sun (think about avoiding the tropics in the summer), and knowing where the nearest hospital is can ensure a restful and successful trip. An itinerary can also be invaluable for emergency contacts back home should an unforeseen event occur. Be sure to distribute the itinerary as well as photocopied legal documents to those who are serving as emergency contacts.

Don’t Travel Alone

At the end of the day, most people will agree that it’s usually more enjoyable to travel with a companion than to travel alone. This is certainly true of having a good time on a trip overall, but it becomes increasingly important as we age and is especially important for those who are traveling with cancer or a late-stage illness. If at all possible, do your best to ensure that either you or a loved one with a late-stage illness has a travel partner before embarking on your trip.

A late-stage illness doesn’t have to derail travel plans, especially if you or a loved one make them a priority. Learn how to travel smart and enjoy peace of mind while traveling.

Looking for the Finances to Take a Trip?

Your finances shouldn’t get in the way of knocking traveling off your bucket list. At Fifth Season Financial, we provide a service to access funds from your life insurance policy without surrendering or selling the policy. It’s called the Funds For Living Program, which aims to help patients with late-stage illness find the financial help they need to live their best possible quality of life. Contact us today at 866-459-1271 if you’d like to learn more!

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