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Traveling with a Chronic Condition

Trips need advance planning. This is so you can be comfortable and lower your risk that your health condition gets worse while you are away. Traveling can be a challenge, but it can be done. Pace yourself. Schedule even more rest than usual. And use this checklist to create a smart travel plan for a safe and enjoyable trip. Bon voyage!

Talk with your healthcare providers

  • See your healthcare provider at least 4 to 6 weeks before your trip.

  • Get written instructions for how to handle problems while you are away.

  • If you are crossing time zones, ask how to take your medicines on schedule.

  • Ask about your specific travel concerns. Take notes or ask a loved one to do it.

  • Make sure you are up-to-date on all of your routine vaccines. You may need additional vaccines depending on where you are traveling. Ask your healthcare provider which vaccines you need.

Plan ahead

  • Try to travel off-season, when there are fewer people. Fewer crowds can mean less stress for you.

  • Think about what times of day you feel your best and when you need to take medicine.

  • If you will be flying, call the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) helpline (855-787-2227) at least 72 hours before your flight. The TSA can give information on how to prepare for airport security screening with respect to a particular disability or medical condition.

  • If your condition is unstable, bring a letter from your healthcare provider explaining the typical treatment plan . This will be helpful if you need to make a visit to an emergency room.

Prevent medicine mishaps

  • Do you have enough medicine? Do you have extra for any unplanned delays? Take enough medicine for your length of stay and travel time, and at least 3 extra days of medicine for emergency delays.

  • Pack your medicines in your carry-on luggage. Keep them in their original containers.

  • Bring extra written prescriptions. This is in case of emergency or in case your medicines get lost.

  • If you're traveling internationally, check with the embassy of the destination country about your medicines. Some medicines (like narcotics and psychotropic medicines) may not be allowed in the country.

Pack wisely

  • Pack light and take only what is really needed.

  • Carry your healthcare providers’ contact information. Carry a list of medicines and a brief health history with you at all times. Give a copy to a person traveling with you.

Health insurance

  • Check if your health insurance covers medical care during travel. If not, consider getting a travel insurance policy that covers healthcare and emergency evacuation.

  • Bring a copy of your health insurance’s out-of-area care policy and your health or travel insurance cards.

  • Have a plan to get care during your travels, in case you need it.


  • Get the prescription for your oxygen needs in writing.

  • Make a plan for getting oxygen at your destination.

  • Arrange for supplemental oxygen in advance with your airline. Ask about costs, paperwork, and layovers.

Steer clear of smokers 

  • Ask about the no-smoking policies where you are going.

  • Let your travel companions and hosts know you can’t be near anyone who smokes.

Prepare for an emergency

Online Medical Reviewer: Marianne Fraser MSN RN
Online Medical Reviewer: Rita Sather RN
Online Medical Reviewer: Stacey Wojcik MBA BSN RN
Date Last Reviewed: 9/1/2023
© 2000-2024 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.