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Travelling with illness or disease

If you are travelling with longer-term health conditions you may need to do some extra planning to make sure your trip abroad goes smoothly. Here’s some guidance to extra steps you may need to take.

Flying with an illness

If travelling by air, contact your airline’s medical department for specific advice about the help available for passengers with health problems. It’s important to let the airline know when you book if you need any special equipment, e.g. wheelchair or stretcher and oxygen.

Treatment while abroad

Check that your Travel Insurance policy covers you for illnesses related to your existing medical condition, so you can get treatment if you need it. Travellers with chronic health problems should find out how available medical help at your destination, and how to access it.

Travellers taking medication

Take a list of the medications you take with you, noting down the generic names of drugs in case you need to track them down abroad. In many countries, it’s useful to have a copy of your original prescription.

Carry extra supplies of drugs, extra syringes, needles and urine or blood testing equipment to cover your whole trip and any possible delays. The usual advice is to take double.

Some medications can make vaccines ineffective, so it’s important to check with your GP about your specific case.

For specific guidance about requesting or taking medication whilst travelling, visit our page on prescriptions abroad.

Medical alert bracelets

Consider a Medic-Alert Foundation International bracelet if you have conditions such as asthma or diabetes, a severe allergy, or if you take steroids or anti-coagulants. The Medic-Alert bracelet includes a statement of the medical condition, any medication or treatment being taken, and usual doctor or clinic name. This can also help if there are any problems when taking medication through customs.

Travellers with diabetes

Remember that blood-sugar levels can be upset by diarrhoea and vomiting, altered diet, unaccustomed exercise and anxiety over travel.

Diabetic travellers should carry a supply of easily absorbed carbohydrate, such as sweets or sweet drinks, in the event of hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar). Tell travelling companions how to recognise and treat the early signs of hypoglycaemia.

Find out more information on how your American Express Travel Insurance policy can assist you when travelling if you suffer from diabetes.

Illnesses and hot climates

Take into account the climate at your destination and the effect it might have on your health. For example, hot climates can exacerbate heart and digestive diseases, whereas rheumatic pain and chronic respiratory conditions may be alleviated. 

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The content of these pages are for general information only, They do not constitute advice and must not be acted or relied on as being so.