a woman checking off a check list with a large pencil with a plane on top

My Travel Check List

Traveling abroad used to make me nervous.

Have I packed everything?

The feeling of 'have I packed everything?' is a bit more intense when you have to consider more than just clothes, currency, and passport. Taking sickle cell into consideration is the extra pressure I can't ignore. That being said, I have learned a lot over the years about what makes for a smooth trip abroad and back again. So much so that I have a travel checklist.

This is a checklist of essential things I do before traveling and while traveling when I catch a flight.

Before traveling

1. Travel insurance

For the peace of mind alone, this added bit of protection is essential and top of my checklist. Be sure to find a travel insurance policy that covers pre-existing medical conditions and declare you have sickle cell, as well as any other complications.

This could end up costing more than the holiday itself if you have frequent hospital admissions or severe complications. But trust me and my pro and con list of 2019, it is not worth the risk or potential medical bill traveling without it.

2. Medication

I’m serious about having everything that I need and more when it comes to my meds. I also like to be over-prepared in terms of quantity, more than enough is better than running out.

This usually requires a visit to my GP or hematologist for extra medication, as well as a letter detailing my HB status, a list of all the medications I will be taking with me, details of any need-to-know information about my sickle cell in an emergency, and contact information for my sickle cell team.

I would advise keeping all your medication in their boxes with your name on them to avoid any complications when traveling. Also, depending on where you are traveling to and what medication you have you may also have to declare this at customs.

3. Vaccines

Having sickle cell means our immune systems are not the best. Being protected against viruses and other diseases is really important for us to stay well. Therefore, before traveling it is a good idea to check if any vaccines or medicines are recommended or required for the country you are going to. This could prevent having any serious health problems while away.

While traveling

4. Oxygen on the plane

Due to the lack of oxygen in high altitudes, people that are affected by sickle cell and sickle cell trait can be at risk of fatal complications.

Most airlines can carry oxygen on board for a fee, however, this must be requested in advance and you will have to complete a medical form before you fly which usually requires a signature from your doctor. Ask your hematologist or sickle cell team if they feel you may require oxygen to fly.

5. Special assistance

This is something I learned about in more recent years of traveling and it makes traveling so much easier and less tiring. If like me you find standing for long periods of time and walking long distances a struggle, you can request special assistance when you travel.

I will admit that sometimes it can take a lot longer to get through the airport since you have to wait for a wheelchair or buggy. Also browsing through duty-free is pretty impossible most of the time. But for me, it is definitely worth it if it means not making my pains worse and not feeling exhausted before even leaving the country. Ask about it the next time you make a booking.

Ready to board

With my checklist ticked off, I’m ready to board the plane with confidence and enjoy another trip away. I hope you find this checklist useful and have the most fun on your travels this summer. Happy flying!

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