Tips for Mesothelioma Survivors When Traveling

Health & Wellness

Traveling to spend time with family and friends or to experience new places can be incredible. Whether your plans take you to the other side of the world or just a few short miles from home, planning ahead of time for any complications living with mesothelioma can help avoid potential pitfalls while you’re away from the comforts of your home.

Making detailed plans is important since you’re likely to have specialized needs. If you’re currently undergoing any treatments and have concerns about travel, speak with your mesothelioma doctor. They may have recommendations specific to your situation or may advise you to postpone your trip.

Top 5 Tips for Trip Planning as a Mesothelioma Patient

  1. Tell your doctor about your plans before buying any tickets. Share all details like plans for a lot of physical activity such as hiking, biking or walking. Discuss the length of your time away.
  2. Let loved ones know about your upcoming plans as well. Consider sharing your doctor’s contact information and important details about your condition with someone you trust.
  3. Plan for any possible emergencies, including your condition potentially worsening. Is there a cancer center near where you’re headed? 
  4. Pack a copy of your medical records. Not all medical facilities may be able to access your digital medical records. 
  5. Check with your health insurance company about your coverage if you’re traveling out of the country. Consider buying additional travel insurance that can cover health care and emergency evacuation if you’re visiting remote areas.

While on your vacation don’t forget the importance of your diet and nutrition. It’s essential that you take care of yourself and keep your energy levels up. 

Make Your Medications a Priority

Speak with your healthcare team about whether or not it’s possible to obtain a refill ahead of time. Your doctor may also provide documentation for pain medications such as opioids. While legal to travel with prescription medications, medical documentation may smooth your travels through security and customs.

It is helpful to keep the medications in the bottles they came in. If there was any incident, emergency medical professionals can quickly learn what meds you take along with dosages, etc.

If you’re flying, it’s important to check with your airline if you’ll encounter any potential limits on liquid medications for flights. You may need to place larger liquids in checked bags and keep smaller containers in a carry-on in case you need to access medication in flight.

It can be challenging to remember to take medication while traveling. Setting reminders to try to take your medication at the same time each day can help. If you’re traveling to a different time zone, be sure to account for the time difference. 

Traveling With Oxygen Therapy for Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma patients traveling with oxygen will need to take extra precautions. When away from home, ensure you’ll have enough oxygen between refills. 

In case of unexpected delays, allow for a 20%-25% safety margin. Also remember that the oxygen container always needs to remain upright and secured at all times.

Airlines typically don’t allow passengers to bring their own oxygen aboard. Some airlines don’t allow passengers to use oxygen on a flight. Other airlines will provide oxygen if you make arrangements ahead of time, but you may need to bring your own nasal prongs or other equipment. Contact your airline for clarity on their policies. 

Trains, buses and cruise ships all have their own policies as well. Most bus companies limit passengers to 1 cylinder. Amtrak, for example, requires 12-hour notice before departure for rail travel. They also have specific size limits and requirements for power sources. 

Have your prescription stating the quantity of oxygen and flow rate, as well as a letter describing your diagnosis handy. Talk to your doctor about providing a statement that you’re approved for travel.

Contact your oxygen supplier before your trip and ask about the medical equipment you’ll need. Check with your insurance company about equipment coverage and coverage for things like local oxygen suppliers providing service during layovers in airports. Keep all related receipts to submit once you return home. 

Most hotels and motels are good about accommodating special needs. They’ll typically help you transport your oxygen tank. 

Contact your regular oxygen supply company ahead of time. Ask about the possibility of arranging a supply at your destination through them or coordinating with a local company to ensure you have the oxygen you need.

Survivor Story
Survivor Story
Mary Lyons pleural mesothelioma

Mesothelioma Survivor Travels Europe With Her Dog

Mary Lyons didn’t let her pleural mesothelioma diagnosis stop her from traveling to Paris with her dog. “I’m feeling good right now. I’m putting my cancer in a box on the shelf for the next two months and saying goodbye,” Mary said before heading to the airport. “It’s my way to not think about mesothelioma for a while. I need this,” she said.

Read Mary’s Story

Returning Home

It’s important when planning a trip to ensure you not only have enough medication, equipment and oxygen during your travels, but when you arrive home as well. Having food ready in the freezer can help too, ensuring you can still nourish yourself even if you’re tired after your trip. 

Once home, it’s a good idea to visit your doctor. Discuss how you’re feeling and if you experienced any issues they should know about during the course of your trip. 

Bon voyage!

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