Cancer Treatment Centers of America

Travel tips for cancer patients: Aim to stay healthy as you travel


blog trip stay healthy

Traveling and staying healthy may sound like an impossible feat, especially during cold and flu season. But there are measures you can take to help you feel more comfortable as you travel and arrive at your treatment destination feeling ready to fight cancer.

Here are some tips we suggest to patients who travel hundreds of miles to our hospitals for treatment.

  1. Drink plenty of bottled water and juice to avoid dehydration. Avoid caffeine and carbonated beverages because they can make you feel bloated.
  2. Eat light. Choose meal replacement drinks (purchased at the airport) and healthy snacks to keep your energy up.
  3. Walk around at least once every hour. Get up slowly after sitting for long periods to avoid dizziness. Before flying, ask for an aisle seat near a bathroom.
  4. Flex and rotate your neck, back, shoulders and ankles every 20 to 30 minutes to avoid stiffness.
  5. If the person sitting next to you is coughing or appears ill, ask to be moved. You can use a mask for protection, but remember the best protection against infection is hand washing. Carry hand sanitizer and use it after touching surfaces used by others.
  6. Sleep during travel to avoid fatigue or jetlag. Do not use the blanket or pillows issued by the airlines unless they are sealed in a package.
  7. Wear comfortable clothing and shoes that are not too tight, in case your feet swell. Also bring a sweater or coat, no matter what time of the year you are traveling.
  8. Pack lightly. Ask for assistance and use luggage carts whenever possible.
  9. Do not cross your legs during travel as it can inhibit blood and lymph flow.
  10. If you are at risk for lymphedema in your arm, avoid using shoulder straps. Lift luggage with your unaffected arm and wear a compression sleeve during travel.
  11. Pack sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or greater. Wear it when outside on both sunny and cloudy days. Many medications used to treat cancer can cause your skin to be very sensitive to sunlight. Also, sunburn on an arm or leg with lymphedema can lead to an infection.

Be sure to check with your doctor about any special precautions you should take while traveling.

Learn about traveling to our hospitals and see our infographic about why people to travel for cancer treatment.