Whether you plan on traveling by car, ship, train, or plane, if you or your child has a bleeding disorder, read this checklist before you go:
1. Obtain or create a travel letter / treatment plan. If you are being treated at an HTC (Hemophilia Treatment Center), ask them for a travel letter or treatment plan to take with you when you travel. It should include details such as:
- contact information of the HTC, so that someone there can back you up in the event that you need further proof of your condition or help explaining your situation
- notice of necessity of needles / ice packs / etc. during travel
- detailed instructions for what to do in case of emergency (emergency care plan)
- any other pertinent information regarding your condition (be as detailed as possible, even including things like current weight for appropriate dosage, emergency contacts, etc.).
2. Locate (and contact, if desired) the nearest HTC where you will be traveling. It can bring you peace of mind to know where to go in the event of an emergency, and it’s always helpful for them to have a heads up that you will be in the area. The information can be found at www.CDC.gov. If there is not an HTC in the area, talk with your HTC about possible alternatives like finding a hematologist in the area or a hospital, etc.
3. Bring original labels for medications. For example, if you are traveling with factor, bring the original box(es) that it came in. The original labels help airlines to identify the medication as legitimate and not a potentially dangerous substance. If the box is bulky, just fold it up or cut the label out to bring.
4. Ensure refrigeration for medication (when applicable).
- If you are going on a cruise, you may need to request a room with a refrigerator. Airlines can also accommodate refrigeration needs. It always goes more smoothly if you have contacted them in advance.
- If you are traveling in a car with a cooler, consider placing a thermometer into the cooler so that you know just how hot or cold the medication gets. That way you will know if it is still good, and you won’t need to do any guess work.
- In the event that you will encounter long periods of time with no access to refrigeration, bring sufficient breakable / instant icepacks (look for them in our shop!).
- Remember: do not re-chill your meds if they have gotten too warm. The expiration date may have been affected by the drop in temperature.
5. Consider informing people at places where you’ll stay about your situation before your arrival. Sometimes hotels, airlines, and cruise ships like to be made aware of anyone traveling/staying with them who might have special needs. This can help if special accommodations need to be made.
6. Check facilities for safety. If you are staying somewhere that offers any type of childcare, look to make sure that the facility is safe and that the activities planned are suitable for your child. Let the attendant at the facility know about your child’s unique situation. If you question the safety of your accommodations, run your concerns by your hematologist beforehand to get a proper handle on any potential risks.
7. Become familiar with the relevant rules / laws of the area where you will be traveling. For example, some countries have strict and extremely sensitive laws for certain drugs not on their pre-approved list. You may need to obtain a license from your doctor beforehand to carry your medical supplies into their land.
8. If traveling internationally, work with the WFH (World Federation of Hemophilia) to familiarize yourself with the hemophilia system in the country(ies) where you will be staying. Note that medications cannot legally be shipped internationally.
9. Always wear your medical ID! Whether you use a bracelet, a necklace, a card, or any combination of medical identification, it is important to have your medical information on you in the event of an emergency. Remember that some of the newer smart phones have operating systems that allow you to place your medical information in the “emergency” section of the phone. If your child has the bleeding disorder, you may consider a medical id on him/her, in addition to wearing one yourself, but with your child’s critical medical information.
Final piece of advice? Have fun on that trip! Don’t let the stress of a bleeding disorder overshadow your travels. With thorough preparation beforehand and observance of these 9 tips, you can rest easy knowing that you have done what you can to mitigate risk. Now, just enjoy. Bon voyage!
Leave comments below if you have any additional travel ideas you’d like to share. We’d love to hear your experiences.