Cancer Treatment Centers of America

Travel tips for cancer patients: Prepare for your trip

blog travel treatment infographic

For many reasons, almost 70 percent of our patients choose to leave their home state and travel to one of our hospitals for care. Traveling when you’re being treated for cancer can be a challenge, especially the first few times when it's a new experience. Getting ready for your trip requires extra time and planning to make sure you have a smooth trip.

Consider these tips to help you prepare for your trip and make life a little less frenzied as you travel.

  1. Pack the following items in your carry-on luggage, where they can be located quickly:
    • A copy of your current medical records
    • Phone numbers for your doctor and pharmacy
    • A list of all medications you are currently taking, in addition to any drug allergies you have
    • Identification cards for implanted ports or pumps
    • If applicable, a copy of your advanced directives, which outlines the kind of medical care you would want if you were too ill or hurt to express your wishes
  2. Pack and organize all medications, both prescription and over-the-counter, in their original containers.
    • Make sure all of your medications are refilled and pack more than you actually need.
    • Check with your insurance company about a “vacation override” if you need your medication refilled before it’s due. Typically, insurance companies only allow you to get a refill seven days early. But you can request a “vacation override” due to travel to get your medication filled sooner.
    • Make plans for medications that need to be refrigerated and do not store medication in checked luggage, where it can be exposed to extreme temperatures.
    • Keep a copy of your original prescriptions in case your medications get lost or stolen.
  3. Pack and organize any necessary medical supplies (e.g., dressings, tube feedings).
    • If applicable, obtain documentation that proves you need to use needles or syringes for medical purposes, which may be needed during security checks.
  4. Contact medical supply companies to arrange for supplies (e.g., oxygen, tube feedings, pain medication infusions, intravenous fluids, dressings) to be shipped to your destination, if you’re going to be away for a period of time. Wear a medical alert bracelet if you have medical conditions such as diabetes or severe drug allergies.
  5. If needed, arrange for an airport wheelchair. This may help expedite your TSA security screening, allow for greater comfort and make it easier for you to get around the airport.
  6. Alert the airline’s medical desk of your condition. This may help you board the airplane early if you are ill or fatigued and make sure that you are accommodated if you are traveling with medical equipment, such as a wheelchair or oxygen tank.
  7. Make it easy to identify your luggage. Tie bandanas, yarn or ribbon around your suitcase’s handle or wrap it with colorful duct tape.
  8. Call or check online to confirm flight arrival or departure times and give yourself ample time to travel to the airport. Expect delays, especially if you’re traveling to or from anywhere in the Midwest or East Coast during winter.

Be sure to always 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.