Holidays; I don’t know about you, but I love planning them especially when the weather is so dismal! Dreaming of an escape from the norm and daily routine.
By Susanna Smith: Kidney Cancer UK Health Professional, Nurse – Updated 23rd January 2019
When you are having treatment for cancer going away from home becomes a little more daunting than it was before. Questions will go through your mind like;
- Am I able to fly?
- Should I go abroad?
- How far can I go?
- Where can I get health insurance?
- What if I feel unwell when I’m away?
- Is Brexit going to affect my travel?
Hopefully this blog will help to answer some of your questions. Firstly, before planning a getaway, consider the treatment you are having.
- Have you just started it?
- Are your side-effects controlled?
Firstly, before planning a getaway consider the treatment you are having. Have you just started it? Are your side effects controlled? It is important that you are well established in your treatment before planning a break away. It is advisable to wait until after their first scan, this then gives the treatment time to be established and any side effects time to be managed by the team. This also means when you are away the chance is lower of you being unwell and needing medical care.
If in this first period of a new treatment you are feeling well, day trips and weekends away nearby can help to break up the numerous hospital appointments.
Home or away?
Most people like to holiday abroad but there are also plenty of places in the UK to holiday. This helps to make going on holiday a lot simpler. It is always handy to work out where the nearest hospital is to where you are going and making sure you have your latest letter or record book detailing your current treatment. You can always ask your team to write an up to date letter for you to take. Another consideration is taking enough medication and support medication to last you through your trip.
Going abroad is entirely possible whilst on treatment but there are a few things to consider. The first is where you are going? Staying closer to home i.e. Europe is preferable, due to most European countries having a reciprocal health agreement with the UK. You can apply for a free EHIC, (European Health Insurance Card) and this gives you the right to access state-provided healthcare during a temporary stay in another European Economic Area (EEA) country or Switzerland.
Travel insurance is also important when you go abroad and there are companies who specialise in providing cover and we have lots of information on our web page to direct and support your decisions here.
When travelling abroad, it is also important to keep a recent doctor’s letter in your hand luggage concerning your condition and treatment, this should also include the medication you are taking and will be carrying with you. Some countries have restrictions to medication you can carry, a list of medication you can and can’t take will be available through the country’s embassy website. A letter is also very important if you are carrying controlled liquid drugs such as strong pain relief – e.g. liquid morphine – so that they’ll allow you to take this on the plane. A letter detailing you are fit to fly/travel is also required by many airlines and insurance companies, this can be requested from your medical team.
As we go through Brexit, the EU and UK have made an agreement that in the transition period from the 29/03/2019 until 31/12/20 nothing will change in respect to the use of the EHIC. This will then be reviewed. Although, if the UK leaves the EU on 29 March 2019 without a Withdrawal Agreement in place, and in the absence of a specific agreement to the contrary, the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) will no longer apply.
IMPORTANT NOTE: the EHIC is NOT an alternative to travel insurance and does not cover repatriation costs or cancellation reimbursement. In addition to these changes if the UK does leave the EU, we will be part of the European Travel Information and Authorization System which will be introduced in 2021. A Fee of 7 Euros (£6.30) valid for 3 years to be able to travel in Europe.
If you are wanting to travel by car in Europe, including travelling between northern Ireland and Ireland, new EU regulations will require you to have a green card issued by your insurance company.
If you have booked a package holiday in the coming year, ABTA are assuring people their holidays will be covered even if they are unable to travel due to Brexit.
(Brexit information is correct at time of publication, please check for updates as things may change on a daily basis.)
Travel insurance is important when you go abroad and there are companies who specialise in providing cover for people with existing medical conditions. It is also advisable to check the small print in regard to disruption due to Brexit.
When travelling abroad it is important to keep, in your hand luggage, a recent doctors letter concerning your condition and treatment.This should also include the medication you are taking and will be carrying with you. Some countries have restrictions to medication you can carry, this information can be obtained through the countries embassy. A letter is also very important if you are carrying controlled liquid drugs such as strong pain relief e.g. liquid morphine, so that they allow you to take this on the plane. A letter detailing that you are fit to fly/travel is also required by many airlines and insurance companies, this can be requested from your medical team.
Airports are big places, so consider if you need extra assistance. Don’t be shy to ask if you need it! This is a free service and can be requested when you book your flight, but it must be booked at least 48 hours before departure. This assistance can be very helpful when the distance of the walk to your gate is unknown and steps on to the plane maybe difficult.
Most importantly, prepare to enjoy your break away, if you are uncertain talk your trip over with your medical team to make sure you have a safe and thoroughly enjoyable trip.
NB: The information in this blog is correct at the time of writing but may change to the current political climate.