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Information about all aspects of finances affected by a serious health condition. Includes income sources such as work, investments, and private and government disability programs, and expenses such as medical bills, and how to deal with financial problems.
Information about all aspects of health care from choosing a doctor and treatment, staying safe in a hospital, to end of life care. Includes how to obtain, choose and maximize health insurance policies.
Answers to your practical questions such as how to travel safely despite your health condition, how to avoid getting infected by a pet, and what to say or not say to an insurance company.


Preparation is 9/10ths of what's necessary to travel safely.

Before undertaking any journey, ask your doctor if there are any restrictions or special requirements you should follow. While with your doctor, also ask for the best way to contact him or her if necessary while you are away. If your doctor doesn't like to give patients his or her e-mail address or mobile phone number, perhaps an exception can be made for this situation -- particularly when you're traveling across time zones which can make communication difficult.

If you are in a weakened condition, give serious consideration to traveling with a companion who is healthier than you and can help you in case something happens. If necessary, hire a nurse.

Additional preparation includes:

If you are going to travel outside the United States also see, Travel Outside The United States.

If you will have special needs, click here. If you will need nursing care en route or at your destination, see: How To Travel If You Need Nursing Care.

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What To Think About When Choosing A Destination

When choosing a destination, keep in mind:

  • Your physical capabilities:  Match your destination to your own capabilities. For example, if you tire easily, you might do better in a city with good transportation than on a hike in the mountains.

  • Availability of medical care:  If there's an emergency, will there be a doctor who speaks English with the expertise and a hospital with the facilities you might need?

  • Infection risk:  Is there a high risk of infection in the area you're considering visiting? Check for recent infection outbreaks in your intended area of travel. You can obtain information about health risks outside the U.S. at the website of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: offsite link

  • Climate:  Consider the local climate and its affect on your health.  For example:
    • Cardiovascular and digestive diseases can flare up in hot climates.
    • Upper respiratory tract infections and rheumatic pain may be helped by a hot dry climate.
    • Skin conditions could be more difficult to bear in hot or humid conditions.
    • If you're thinking of a sunny climate, will it affect your reaction to your medications? Do your drugs make you more sensitive to sunlight?
  • Exercise is good for your health: If your trip isn't going to involve a lot of exercise, look for a hotel with an exercise facility, or at least an exercise facility nearby. Many hotels that don't have gyms have arrangements with nearby facilities. At the least, plan a series of exercises you can do in your hotel room -- perhaps with a video or DVD you take with you, or can obtain from the hotel. Collapsible hand weights and stretch rubber bands are easy to carry. If you're stuck for ideas, look at the book: Travel Fitness by Rebecca Johnson and Bill Tulin.

Consider a vacation that includes volunteering. Volunteer-vacations can be rewarding and inexpensive. When considering such a vacation, in addition to the above factors, consider:

  • Whether your values and goals match the values and goals of the sponsoring organization.
  • What the tasks will be.
  • Whether the tasks will fit your physical limiations.
  • What the living conditions will be.
  • Whether the emphasis is on volunteering or sightseeing.
  • Whether the work is worthwhile.
  • The amount of time involved.

Among the worthy volunteer-vacations, a few to consider are (in alphabetical order):

To learn more, see: Volunteer Vacations: Short-Term Adventures That Will Benefit You And Others offsite link, Bill McMillon, Doug Cutchins, Anne Geissinger (Chicago Review Press, 2006)

Check out insider travel tips: Travel web logs offer detailed insider information, including opinions about hotels, restaurants and attractions. A good starter site is

What To Include In Your Travel Plans

Time for rest: When making arrangements and schedules, remember to include plenty of rest. If you don't schedule it, your body will -- and probably not at a time when you want. Keep in mind time zone changes and jet lag, too.

Hotels for special needs: Web sites such as and include features on their web sites that make it easy to find accommodations that include the features you need. For example, rooms with refrigerators if you travel with drugs that need to be refrigerated, or wheelchair accessibility. 

  • At offsite link, click on "hotels", and enter the requested information . When you arrive at the hotels screen, look for "Hotel preferences". You will be able to search for hotels that can satisfy your needs.
  • At offsite link, enter the requested information. When you arrive at the screen with hotels at your destination, look for "accessibility features" under "narrow results."

When making reservations and other arrangements, be sure to tell the hotel about any special needs and confirm they can accommodate them. Get the name of the person you contact, Request that he or she writes down your needs -- either on the reservation or on a separate note. As the date for your travel gets closer, reconfirm that the special arrangements are being provided for.

Transportation: When making reservations and other arrangements, explain your special needs and confirm they can accommodate them. Get the name of the person you contact, Request that he or she writes down your needs -- either on the reservation or on a separate note. As the date for your travel gets closer, reconfirm that the special arrangements are being provided for.  

Escort: For a fee, airlines will provide an escort to help disabled passengers make connections. The price may be worth it if you are traveling alone or you require a great deal of assistance.

Travel Insurance: Keep in mind that if you're going to purchase travel insurance (which we recommend), many policies will not cover a pre-existing condition unless you purchase the policy within a specified period of time after making first payment for the trip. To learn more, see Travel Insurance Post Diagnosis.

If You're Going Abroad: Unless your credit card offers this option, consider enrolling with an organization that will provide recommendations of foreign doctors and supervise your medical care. For instance,International Association for Medical Assistance to Travelers,(a non-profit) offsite link (tel.: 716.754.4883) publishes a directory of English speaking doctors all over the world. International SOS Assistance, offsite link, tel: 800.523.8662, provides travel assistance.

Travel agents: Travel Agents can be a great help and generally do not cost you anything. An experienced agent, particularly one with a Travel Career Development Diploma issued by Certified Travel Agents, can get you information beyond that in airline or hotel data banks. We understand that travel agents specializing in making arrangements for people with special medical needs include:

Note: We have not had direct experience with any of these agencies.

Airports: Information on services available at airports is posted at offsite link

Communication: If you're going to be somewhere remote where your mobile phone likely won't work because there is no cell phone service, consider renting one. If something happens, you'll instantly be connected. Two satellite phone networks: are Globalstar offsite link and Iridium offsite link

If you want to share your trip as it happens, consider setting up a web page at a site such as offsite link It's free for 45 days.

Choosing A Hotel Or Other Place To Stay

Look for a place that fits your needs. For example, if your medications need to be refrigerated, it is preferable to stay in a place with a refrigerator in your room.

Thanks to the ease of the internet,  travelers are no longer limited to staying in hotels. There are sites that connect travelers with people who rent rooms in their apartments or houses, or rent the entire apartment, house or villa. (See the document in "To Learn More" for more information).

To learn about what is available in a particular location, internet sites include information about hotel and private property offerings or you can contact the hotel or private property owner directly.  For example,  offsite linkand  offsite linkhave features to their online reservation systems which make it easy to find hotel rooms that fit your needs as well as to book rooms that have the options you need.  For information about short term rentals for travelers, click here.

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More Information

Short Term Rentals For Travelers

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