We know from TV ads that it’s a simple matter to get insurance cover for a holiday abroad if you have medical conditions. But what can you do yourself to keep yourself safe?
There are several aspects to this including your medication, your jabs, what you eat, what you do and how you organise your trip.
Remember, travel agents, airlines and hotels are primed to look after people with chronic ailments and disabilities. You might consider turning over your whole holiday to a specialist agent who will plan every aspect of your trip.
If you’re on long-term medication, take a full supply plus some extra doses in case of travel delays. Make a list of your blood type, any chronic illnesses or serious allergies you have and the generic names of prescription medicines you take.
Make sure you’re up to date with your routine vaccinations — MMR, chickenpox, diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis, polio and your flu jab, plus hepatitis A, typhoid and any special vaccinations for the countries you’re visiting, not forgetting malaria prevention .
The NHS website can help you with this (nhs.uk/conditions/travel-immunisation).
Take a first-aid kit containing insect repellent with 20% or more DEET, and a variety of dressings, blister remedies and bandages, motion sickness tablets, an antacid for indigestion. Plus an antiseptic cream for cuts and 1% hydrocortisone cream to soothe sunburn and insect bites.
For tummy problems I take Lomotil, and non-drowsy antihistamine tablets for allergies and rashes.
Cover your sunscreen needs with a special very high SPF for your children and a 30+ SPF for yourself. Reapply every four hours, especially if you’re swimming, irrespective of the maker’s recommendations.
Only eat “safe food” that’s cooked and served hot, and fruit and veg you’ve washed yourself in bottled water and peeled yourself.
There are countries where the purity of water can’t be guaranteed so only drink water from a sealed bottle you open yourself. Ice should also be prepared from bottled water.
Wash your hands as often as you can, and always before eating. I carry a hand sanitiser and use it frequently.
When making a hotel booking ask for a disabled room and give them the measurements of your wheelchair if you use one. Make sure your bathroom meets your needs.
Let your airline know about your special needs too such as transport to the plane, assistance checking in and going through security.
And once in your destination think about assistance from a special guide who works with disabled people.
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