Travel Tips for Caregivers
Article submitted by Rebecca Sharp Colmer, Me & My Caregivers – 800-530-9129
Just because you need a caregiver doesn't automatically mean you cannot travel. If your situation permits, travel can be very enjoyable. When traveling, try to follow the routine that is followed at home. Even minor changes in routine can be distressing and may cause unexpected delays in the delivery of care. Be sure to allow plenty of time for everything. Plan for rest periods throughout the day.
- A few more travel tips to keep in mind: When searching the Internet for travel arrangements, be sure to include the word disabled or accessibility to the search window.
- Let the care-receiver's primary care doctor know of your travel plans.
- Travel with a list of the care-receiver's medical conditions.
- Remember to bring sufficient funds or a credit card with you in case you must change your plans suddenly and return home.
- Use a medical-alert type identification bracelet for the person in care.
- Take a doctor's note and phone number. Travel with a statement from your doctor, preferably on letterhead, covering your condition, medications, potential complications and other pertinent information.
- Be specific and clear when describing a disability. Not all service providers know the "lingo" of accessible travel, or the medical terms for certain conditions. Don't downplay the severity of the disability. Some companies arrange trips for folks according to the level of "self-care" of which they are capable.
- Read your insurance policy before taking a trip to see how "emergency" is defined.
- Bring extra medication.
- Store all medications and other necessary medical supplies in your carry-on bag.
- Investigate physician availability where you will be traveling.
- Check into reciprocal agreements between the care-receiver's health plan and a provider in the area you will visit.
- Buy traveler's insurance after reading the small print!
- Take the care-receiver's health insurance card and copies of the insurance benefits booklet.
- Carry medical alert information, preferably in a place that a medical professional or anyone who assists you will find easily (wallet card, necklace, close to your identification).
- Carry a list of phone numbers of next-of-kin in case of an emergency.
- Allow plenty of time before your flight to check in, get through security and transfer to your gate. Arrive at least two hours before a domestic flight and three hours before an international flight -- more if you're traveling at a peak time.
- Ask for a wheelchair in advance and asked to have your request noted on the ticket.
- Avoid connecting flights if possible.
- If you use a wheelchair, bring spare parts and tools. Wheelchairs can take tremendous abuse while traveling.
- Know your rights. Be aware of the TSA's rules for travelers with disabilities and medical conditions.
- Take your Advance Directives with you.
- Exercise good common sense.
With careful planning both the care-receiver and caregiver can enjoy travel.