7 Tips to Prepare Sickle Cell Warriors for Vacation

As a caregiver, I was encouraged and shocked to meet warriors who live limitless lives and have traveled the world. Meeting them inspired me to make sure that I give my daughter the same freedom to live, explore, and enjoy life. I don’t restrict my Warrior from traveling, which means I have to help prepare my sickle cell warrior for vacation, flights, and cruises by guiding her to make sound decisions regarding her health.

She has been to several countries and enjoys seeing new places and experiences. Traveling can be a great way to relax and unwind, but for sickle cell warriors, it can also be a source of stress and anxiety. My daughter took her first flight at six months old. Initially, I was worried, but she did so well that we continued to travel as she grew. Whether planning a vacation, a flight, or a cruise, taking extra precautions is important to ensure a person's safety and well-being.

Here are seven ways I help prepare my sickle cell warrior for vacation:

Consult the doctor:

Before traveling, we make sure to talk to my daughter's doctor about our plans to prepare her for vacation. A good healthcare team can advise on any precautions that should be taken while away. In addition, they can also provide necessary medications or treatments that may be needed prior.

Honestly, booking appointments with my daughter’s specialist is difficult because appointments are fully booked for several months in advance. Therefore when we travel, I inform her specialist team and try to receive travel clearance a month before departure. It can be much easier for us to schedule an appointment with her primary care physician, who has known her since she was a baby and is very familiar with sickle cell disease.

By providing your email address, you are agreeing to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.

Pack extra medication:

It's important for my daughter to bring extra medication with her in case of unexpected delays or emergencies. We make sure to pack her medication in her carry-on bag so she can easily access it while traveling.

My sickle cell warrior recently went on a class trip with her school to a different state. I wanted to let her go, and I couldn’t be a chaperon because I had to work, so I made sure that she took her medicine and a backup in case something got lost. I also went to be in the same area if something went wrong.

Stay hydrated:

Dehydration can trigger a sickle cell crisis, so I teach my daughter to stay hydrated during her travels. I tell her to drink plenty of fresh, clean water and to watch out for signs of dehydration like chapped lips.

When my daughter flies, she takes an empty water bottle through the TSA airport security. Once she passes security, she then fills up a water bottle and takes sips of water while she waits for the plane to take off.

Dress comfortably:

I also advise her to wear comfortable and loose-fitting clothing that won't restrict her blood flow. I tell her to avoid tight clothing or shoes that can cause discomfort. I also bought her some compression socks for longer flights. The longest flight that she took was a little more than five hours long, and we tried to keep her flight at five hours or less.

Plan for rest breaks:

Occasionally, we take road trips to see our extended families. When we travel by car, we plan several rest breaks along the way, every few hours, to stretch our legs. If traveling by plane, we tell my daughter to get up and walk around to the bathroom every hour or so. When we can, we try to stop and visit family who live along our route. We try not to travel more than five hours continuously in a car because that is what my daughter's body can handle.

Each year we take a cruise, and she has never had any issues on the boat. We just make sure to pay for the extra travel insurance in case of a problem.

Be mindful of temperature changes:

We have taught my daughter to acknowledge and identify her pain crisis triggers. For instance, sudden temperature changes can trigger a sickle cell crisis. If she's traveling to a colder climate, we ensure to bring warm clothing and dress in layers. If she is traveling to a hotter climate, we make sure to stay in the shade and avoid prolonged exposure to the sun if we can. So far, most of our yearly trips have been warm, moderate climates because she loves a fresh ocean breeze.

Communicate with travel companions:

When my daughter went on her class trip, we had to make sure her travel companions (teachers and chaperons) were aware of her condition and how to help her if she experienced a crisis. We provided them with her doctor's contact information and other necessary medical information that they needed.

Often health insurance doesn’t cover people in other countries, so when we travel, we get supplemental health insurance as a family. It does cause us to have an extra cost, but the fee is justified because it helps prevent an astronomical hospital bill later on. Although we have never had to use our travel health insurance, I will always get it, just to be safe.

Caregivers, I want my daughter to live a limitless life regardless of her health conditions. However, in order to allow more freedom, I have to help prepare my warrior in advance. Vacations, flights, and cruises all take preparation, and I believe even though a person may have a chronic illness, they can still make sound decisions regarding their health. They can enjoy life.

Of course, traveling can be challenging for sickle cell warriors, but with careful planning and preparation, it can also be enjoyable and rewarding. Preparing sickle cell warriors for vacation isn't difficult. These seven simple tips have helped us ensure a safe and stress-free travel experience.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Sickle-Cell.com team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Join the conversation

Please read our rules before commenting.