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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.


Your trip will go much more smoothly and your health risks will be minimized if you prepare for the trip appropriately. When you are on the move, an ounce of prevention is worth two pounds of cure.

There are three important areas to consider:

  • Your medical needs (including medications, food and food supplements) 
  • Legal 
  • Insurance. 

Also think about:

  • Whether you are up to moving your own luggage around, or is it better to send it ahead of time.
  • How to minimize jet lag if you're going to cross time zones. Jet lag can be particularly difficult if you're experiencing symptoms from your condition or treatments.

For information, see:

If you are traveling outside of the United States, see Travel, Outside The United States.


  • Packing in the world of your new normal that exists after a diagnosis is not the same as it was before. For information on packing, see the document in "To Learn More."
  • Let your credit card company(s) know you will be traveling and for how long so the fraud department doesn't decline charges from unusual locales.
  • For information about getting clearance to travel, traveling with special needs and similar subjects, click here

Medical Issues To Consider When You Travel

You stand a much better chance of remaining healthy throughout your trip if you leave home healthy.

  • A visit with your doctor a month or so before you leave is a wise investment of your time.
  • In addition to getting a check-up, be sure to discuss any allergies you have and get prescriptions to treat them in case they act up while you?re traveling. Also consider a tetanus booster shot (You should normally get one every ten years.)

Put together a list of all your medical providers with name, telephone number, street address and e mail address. (Include each doctor's mobile phone if you have it). Include in the list what the doctor's specialty is and the circumstances in which to call that particular doctor. Keep a copy of the list with your ticket/passport. Keep another copy on you at all times during your travel.

Speak with your doctor:

  • Ask for the names of doctors or health care facilities to contact at your various destinations.
  • If you are going to change time zones, ask:
    • How to adjust your medication schedule when the local time changes.
    • For advice on dealing with jet lag. (For more resources for information about jet lag, see Minimizing Jet Lag)
  • What to do if you get common travel symptoms such as diarrhea. Some experienced travelers recommend taking a three day dose of oflaxcin (Floxin) (for which you need a prescrption) plus two tablets of Imodium AD along with the first dose of oflaxcin. What does your doctor recommend?
  • For a copy of each of the following which could prove vital during your trip: (If you are traveling to a country which speaks a different language, it would be ideal to have your records translated into that language if possible.)
    • A summary of medical records to be carried with your wallet or passport. 
    • A written update of your condition.
    • A comprehensive list of medications (prescriptions and over-the-counter) and dietary supplements that you take. Include dosages. If you are crossing time zones, recalculate medicine schedule with your doctor to accommodate changes.
    • A list of your allergies.
    • A list of drugs that may cause adverse reactions to your medicine.
    • A record of your blood type.
    • A copy of your eyeglass or contact lens prescription (as well as a spare pair of glasses or contacts).
    • A letter which explains why you carry needles and syringes (if applicable). The letter doesn't have to give details about your condition, only that they are medically necessary to administer your medication.
    • A list of doctors, hospitals, and facilities that specialize in your condition in each of the areas you will visit. A Letter of Introduction from your doctor (addressed "To whom it may concern" or "Dear Doctor") may help get services you need.
  • If you need oxygen during your travel, ask how to arrange it. Oxygen is readily available throughout the United States. Information on the availability of oxygen is available through:
    • The American Lung Association offsite link, Tel.: 212 315 8700
    • The American Thoracic Society offsite link, Tel.: 212 315 8700
    • The American Association for Respiratory Care offsite link, Tel.: 972 243 2272

If you keep track of pain levels or other symptoms in your Symptoms Diary, print a blank page and photocopy it for each day of your trip so you can continue to track symptoms while traveling.

If the water is not safe where you are going, consider purchasing a product you can easily take with you, such as a SteiPEN Traveler, a compact water purifier. You can learn about this product at offsite link, Tel.: 888.783.7473.

Consider obtaining an identification bracelet or necklace that lists detailed medical information about your illness. See offsite link

Alternative Methods For Sending Your Luggage Ahead

You can arrange for door-to-door luggage shipping. The services save you a lot of time at airports and schlepping. To give you an idea of cost, in 2007, the Wall Street Journal contacted 8 door-to-door companies. It found the cost for shipping a 45 pound bag from Atlanta to New York for next-day delivery ranged from a low of $178 to a high of $284. Costs should be less for lighter bags and for service other than next-day service.

Services to consider which we know of but have not used follow.

CITI Platinum Select/Aadvantage World MasterCard offers free shipping of luggage once every 12 months. For pick up, call 866.744.7224. Pick up at home office hotel etc and delivered where you want. Deliveries are made within 2 business days, from and to anywhere in the US. For detailed information: see: offsite link

Food And Dietary Supplements

Consider carrying the basics for a healthy diet "just in case."  For instance, if you need particular nutrients or are used to a diet with particular healthy foods such as dry roasted almonds, hummus or powder for a protein drink. Carry enough for the trip, plus at least another day in case you get stuck there.

If you are on a supplement such as Ensure, take what you need.

If you need too much to carry with you, you can send it ahead to the hotel by an overnight service. Many airlines now provide a pick up and delivery service as well. See: Sending Your Luggage Ahead.

Some people have been known to ask the hotel to clean out the minibar before they arrive so they can then fill it with their own food. 

Revisit Advance Healthcare Directives and take a copy with you.

While planning a trip it makes sense to revisit the documents that cover what happens if medical decisions need to be made, but for some reason you can't make them -- particularly Advance Healthcare Directives such as your Living Will and Healthcare Proxy. (For information about advance health care directives, including what they are, who to choose to represent you, and tips to tell them about enforcing your wishes, click here.)

Be sure the person or people named to make decisions in your advance directives will be available 24 hours a day during your trip. If not, consider preparing another set of documents naming someone else who will be available during that time.  When you get home, rip up the temporary directives. 

Carry a copy of your advance healthcare directivefs with you when you travel "just in case." 

To Learn More

More Information

Advance Directives

Practical Matters To Consider When You Travel

Make Copies Of Important Documents

Before you travel, make at least two copies of each of the following. Pack one set of copies in a place other than where you store the originals. Give one set to a person you can contact who can forward the copies to you if needed. (NOTE: You can scan the items and send them to a friend or yourself via e mail - and then retrieve them via e mail as well).

  • Medical insurance information.
  • List of medicines. (It is also advisable to travel with copies of prescriptions if the medicines you carrry contain narcotics or are generally subject to abuse).
  • Brief medical history, including contact information for your specialists and primary care doctor.
  • Credit and debit cards.
  • Proof of travel insurance. (For information about travel insurance, see: Travel Insurance Post Diagnosis).
  • Itinerary if you are making several stops.
  • Driver's license.
  • Passport if you travel outside of the U.S.

Make Your Home Appear As If It Is Still Inhabitated

If your home will be empty while you're gone, take the following steps:

  • Cancel newspapers or have someone collect them for you so they don't sit in front of your residence.
  • Have the mail held for you. Contact your postal carrier to learn how or check at offsite link
  • Set at least one light to turn on at night, and off during the daytime.

Take An Inflatable Pillow

Many airlines no longer supply pillows. If they do, they can spread disease because they are freshened at most once a day. Bring your own inflatable pillow.

Make Plans To Exercise

When you make your hotel reservation, find out if the hotel has a gym. If not, can they arrange for a day pass at a nearby gym or club?

If you are taking a lap top, take a DVD of your favorite exercise program.

Alternatively, take stretch rubber bands.  For more information, see the document in "To Learn More."

Credit Card Savvy

  • Take a credit card that does not charge a currency conversion fee. Most credit cards charge a fee for purchases made in foreign currency. The charge is up to 3% of the purchase. Look for a credit card with no fee, or at least a minimal one. For example, Capital One does not charge a fee or pass along a fee.
  • Alter credit card issuers about an upcomg trip so that activity doesn't trigger an alert or a temporary shut down.

Learn How To Protect Your Wallet

  • Men should carry their wallet in a pocket in the front of their pants, preferably with a rubber band around it which makes it harder to remove from the pocket.
  • Women should carry a purse that zips closed with a flap that folds over. The flap should face your body.

Speed A Return Home From Out Of The Country

Preapproved travelers can pass through U.S. Customs by swiping their passports at a kiosk, posing for a photo, scanning their fingerprints and answering some basic questions on a touch screen. To learn more about the program, including cost and participating airports, see: offsite link, then click on "Travel".

To Learn More

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Related Articles

How To Choose A Specialist

Check Health Insurance To Learn About Coverage.

Carefully check your specific health coverage for the places you'll be visiting and what you will have to do for coverage.

If you are traveling in the United States:

  • Managed Care: If you have coverage through a managed care plan such as an HMO under which you need approval before you can see a doctor etc., see the travel section of Managed Care for information about required procedures in event of emergency or illness.
  • Indemnity (Fee-for-service) Coverage (the type of policy under which you can use any medical services and be reimbursed): Your coverage should be the same all over the country. Check your policy to be sure.
  • Medicare:  Medicare covers you anywhere in the country. If you have a Medicare Advantage plan, see Medicare Advantage.
  • Medicaid:  See the travel section of Medicaid.
  • Credit cards: You may also have some coverage through one of your credit cards. However, these coverages are not generally as inclusive as separate travel policies.

If you are traveling outside the US: see Travel Outside The United States.

If you are not covered for heath care where you expect to travel, see the next section.

If you are not covered for medical evacuation, consider getting covered through a trip cancellation policy. Check for a pre-existing condition exclusion. See the next section.

To Learn More

More Information

Hospital Indemnity Insurance

Minimizing Jet Lag

Jet Lag can be a bummer in the best of times, but it can really put a damper on a trip (or even a return home when added to not feeling well because of a health condition 

Ask your doctor for advice for coping with jet lag. Jet Lag advice can also be obtained on such web sites as:

  • offsite link, tel. 630.252.2000. A method of combating jet lag known as the Argonne National Laboratory system which requires changing y
  • offsite link: a software program that creates personal battle plans to fight jet lag. $25. per plan
  • offsite link provides unlimited jet lag advice for $4.95 a month.