Travelling tips - Before you go -medical 1

Planning a trip carefully and thoughtfully is essential when you are travelling with older people.

Travel Insurance

My number one essential is Travel Insurance
I have always travelled with the saying  'If you can't afford insurance, you can't afford to travel'

Travel insurance is an absolute must have.
Its not just for the lost bags or delayed flight.. its for medical.

Here in Australia we have the benefit of relatively inexpensive health care and medication but if something should happen overseas then I would have to sell my house to cover the costs if we didn't carry insurance.


It pays to shop around.

  • Some credit cards have free travel insurance, usually they are the cards with the higher yearly fees but this often out weighs separate insurance. 
         Be aware they often end at an age point like 80 years old.

  • RACQ, NRMA etc have travel insurance deals for members. 

  • Seniors groups or organisations also offer travel insurance

  • There are many travel insurance companies on the web to search out.

  • Sometimes a club or organisation you or your parent belongs to may have a bulk insurance scheme, the Australian Bridge Federation has such a scheme for its members.

Which ever insurance company you go with make sure you declare any  pre-existing medical conditions, if you don't declare and something arises then they can refuse to pay.

Do not think that just because you are on a cruise that the doctor or medical care on a cruise will suffice.

While the medical care you receive on a cruise ship  is excellent it is not all encompassing.  If if is anything major or too much for the limited facilities to handle you will be off loaded for care.
This may be an ambulance meeting you at the next port, an emergency stop at somewhere unforeseen, even evacuation by helicopter while your at sea.   You have to remember if this happens its not just the being off loaded and maybe a short stay in hospital,  but you may not be medically allowed to fly for a while. This means accommodation for both of you and meals in the place where you are stuck, then arranging either flights home or flights to return to the cruise ship at a later port. More about cruise ships in my blog entry -Cruising

Do not think just because you are travelling within your own country, even if it is out of state, you don't need travel insurance.

I have been on a plane during, an international flight when they had to make an emergency medical landing.

The woman in the seat directly in front of me was a queasy traveller and it was a night time flight. She self medicated. Took two different brands of motion sickness tablets as she wasnt sure they were really that effective, taking twice the amount suggested as she "knows she is queasier than anybody else' then taking two sleeping tablets 'to make sure the annoying people around her do not disturb her sleep' . Resulting in her not being able to be roused by her sister, shallow breathing , the works. Not knowing what was happening and a passenger doctor treating her thinking she was having some type of heart incident, the plane diverted and landed. An ambulance met the plane and the sisters were off loaded.
 I only knew the reasons as I befriended the  'good' sister, she spent most of the time sitting with us while attendants tried to help the unconscious sister. She emailed me to tell me what happened, and to offer to buy me new shoes to replace mine that were 'damaged' by her sister.
Without insurance this may have cost thousands of dollars.

Get Doctor clearance

Get Doctor clearance. Consult with your elderly travellers doctors before booking any travel to discuss any issues. I always get a letter of travel, simply stating there is nothing to prevent them travelling but listing any known medical issues. I can always give this to a doctor or hospital on the trip if the need arises.


Check online or with a travel doctor if there are any  special vaccinations needed for the trip and destination, we needed Yellow Fever vaccinations for some of South America.
Check with your doctor that these vaccinations wont effect her current condition or medication.

Remember that some immunisations  can take 4-­6 weeks to complete the series of shots.

The one day a week Malaria tablet (Larium) sounds wonderfully convenient but need to be trialled over a four week period before departure to ensure side effects such as mood disorders do not occur

As well as specific destination vaccinations check whether your existing vaccinations from childhood including tetanus, measles mumps and rubella, and diphtheria are all up to date.
Check whether you have been vaccinated against hepatitis and typhoid in the last few years.

We always get vaccinated against flu , this normally protects us for 12 months. While mum gets it as a matter of course every year, as an older person she is in a higher risk category, I always get  vaccinated against flu.(see below Prepare to Prevent)
Interesting article on Huffington Post about Why Air Passengers Fly With the Flu

Get prescriptions 

Get prescriptions for all your parent's medications and get them filled before you leave.  Scan and copy the prescriptions (check out the article on Baggage)

Local Information

I research any conditions my parent has or has had and write them down in a note in the local language along with names of medications.

A friend we met on a trip, had a 'medical incident' ,collapsing one night  while we were going to dinner and was rushed to a hospital in South America. Not one of us spoke Portuguese and  we'd been at the hospital for 5 hours before an English-speaking doctor came the see him. His wife was understandably stressed and in no right mind to work out any conversations in Portuguese.
 I sat in the hospital lobby using an online  translator looking up his conditions and problems and medications. Thank goodness I had my Tablet and free wifi.
The English speaking doctor said  this probably prevented anything more serious happening. My basic translations were able to communicate about existing health issues , medications ,and the nature of his collapse with ambulance and emergency room staff. I dread to think what miscommunication could have arisen if his wife had been there on her own (He was discharged the next day, it was basically dehydration and sunstroke)

Legality of Medicines 

If you’re travelling abroad, check that all your prescription and over-the-counter medicines are legal in the country you’re visiting. Simply taking a strong pain tablet like Panadeine  can be a problem as it contains two active ingredients- paracetamol and codeine. Codeine is illegal to import into many countries, Greece, Thailand, UAE to name a few.
 I always look online at the embassy of the country we are visiting to ensure the medicine is legal there  and interesting site is What You Need To Know About Travelling With Medications

If you have to travel with medication that requires refrigeration (e.g. if your parent suffers from arthritis, certain prescriptions may fall into this category) There are ways to deal with this too.
 Use insulated wallets or containers during transit (ask your pharmacist for recommendations) Put an ice brick in and make arrangements at your destination for safe storage. Book hotel rooms with in room fridge or cruise ship cabins with a fridge. Most airlines are happy to store in the refrigerator on the plane if they are asked nicely.
Keep in mind that temperature variation can impact the medicine's effectiveness so do not put in the checked-in baggage

No comments:

Post a comment