Thanksgiving Travel Tips for People with Health Issues

Sihouette of young family with luggage walking at airport, girl pointing at the window

Halloween is over, which means we’re exchanging jack o’lanterns for turkey and pumpkin pie.  The Thanksgiving holiday is right around the corner!  Thanksgiving weekend is known for being one of the busiest travel weekends of the year.  According to AAA, last year 46.3 million Americans packed their bags and journeyed at least 50 miles away from home to spend the holiday with family or friends.

Thanksgiving weekend travel can already be stressful due to the sheer numbers of fellow travelers, but travelers with health issues may experience extra stresses.  So, if you’ll be among America’s travelers in a few weeks, follow these travel tips to help you have a smooth and happy holiday trip!

  1. Pack Your Medications – The last thing you need is to be far away from home and not have your necessary medications. Whether you pack them first or last, don’t walk out the door until you’ve checked your medications off your list.
  2. Pack Snacks to Control Your Glucose and Monitor It – Make a pack of snacks that will help you control your glucose level. Make sure you can access it easily or that someone else could easily get to it.  Bring your glucose monitors and pack them close to your snacks.  Monitor your glucose levels as often as you would at home.
  3. Pack Insurance Cards and Other Documentation – No one wants to have a visit to a doctor or emergency room while out of town, but it’s best to be prepared in case it does happen. With the proper cards and documentation, you can better focus on getting the treatment you need, instead of insurance red tape.
  4. Plan Out Time Zone Changes – If you’re going to be in more than one time zone, plan your snacks and monitoring accordingly. Also, ensure that you’ve accounted for time zone changes when taking medications or monitoring glucose levels.
  5. Pack Insulin or Other Temperature-Dependent Medications So That It’s Kept Cool Until Reaching Your Destination – You can use a wide-mouthed, insulated, non-breakable bottle or thermos to help keep your medications cools. Fill the bottle ice or cold water before hand to cool it.  Then empty the bottle, dry it and place your medications inside.
  6. Get Plenty of Sleep – It’s important to get plenty of sleep – even extra sleep – before a big trip, but especially if you are dealing with health issues while traveling. Go to bed early before a trip, or take a nap before leaving.  Be sure to get good sleep during the trip, as well, so that you’ll be in good shape when traveling back home.
  7. Put Medications and Other Necessities in a Carry-On Bag – Carry all medications and any other necessities in your carry-on bag. Just in case your luggage is misplaced, you won’t want to be without your necessities.  You can always buy another toothbrush!
  8. Pack Lightly and Use Luggage with Shoulder Straps or Wheels – If you suffer from arthritis or other health problems, you won’t want to over exert yourself. Make sure to pack as lightly as possible, so you have less to carry.  Bags with comfortable shoulder straps or wheels will also help.
  9. Wear and Pack Comfortable Clothing That’s Easy to Get On – Comfortable clothing will make you comfortable all around, especially if it will be awhile before you can change. Wear Seamless Socks from SmartKnit to help keep your feet from getting irritated.  Or if you’re at risk for DVT, Compression Travel Socks from Therafirm will help prevent this dangerous condition.
  10. Pack Any Arthritis Aids You Regularly Use – If it’s something you use regularly, bring it, even if you think you won’t use it.
  11. Carry Cash – You will want to have cash for situations like tipping luggage assistants or toll payments.
  12. Inform Others of Your Condition – Inform TSA agents, flight attendants or any other officials of your health conditions. They’ll be more likely to be helpful and also to watch for changes in your condition.

Remember at the end of the road is that special turkey and dressing or pumpkin pie that you’ve been craving for months – as well as hugs and smiles and family memories.

** Note: Tips are not meant to replace medical advice.  Always consult with your doctor.

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