How to Travel Safely with Sickle Cell

April shares her best travel tips with you. What travel advice can you add?


I write this as many warriors will be traveling soon. I have traveled extensively and frequently as a yoga teacher trainer that teaches at yoga retreats in exotic destinations. Here is what I have learned.

Always see your doctor before you travel.  There are many reasons for this. First, you want to be certified fit to travel. Some sickle cell patients get a transfusion before they fly. It makes flying easier. You also want to pick up a copy of your medical records to take with you. If not a full copy, obtain copies of your last labs and X-rays with your main diagnosis on your doctors stationary. Include sickle cell and any secondary conditions you may have.

You also want to have your doctor write you a note to take water with you through security. Make sure it has your full legal name that matches the name on your drivers license or ID you show security, and that it is written on a prescription pad. A typed note is not legal. I always carry a note that allows me to carry several bottles of water through security. It adds 5 minutes to security as TSA is shocked to see a note and they have to get a supervisor then they test your water bottles. (But they don’t open them!) I took a trip around the world last year for 2 months and my note worked everywhere except Rome. They made me throw my water away. This note is good for one year. My friend, Kassie, taught me this. Don’t open the water until after you go through security. I would not take water for your entire family. I took a six pack, but the bottles were tiny. Normally, I take one large liter bottle.

You want to prepare several days before traveling.  Take all your medicines with you in the original bottles they came in. Make sure you have enough meds for your trip and a few extra days in case your flight gets cancelled. Always travel with pain medicines including a short acting and a long acting. Have something for nausea, and any other medicine you may need. I always carry Benadryl and allergy medications as well. It’s easer to have a few days than to have to go find what you need. Don’t get me wrong, I will always go buy what I need, but sometimes it is hard to find exactly what you need in a different city or country.

Know all the generic names of your medicines. In other countries medicines go by generic names. No one knows Benadryl, but the generic name of diphenhydramine would be recognized.

Translate all of your medical conditions. I did this, but the mistake I made was I had it on my iPad.  I then emailed it to myself. When I went to urgencies (the Paris emergency room) at 3:00 a.m., I did not have Wi-Fi and could not read what I translated. As soon as I got Wi-Fi, I put it in my notes folder on my iPad.

The day before your trip. Drink up! Hydrate yourself with lots of water and Gatorade. Rest and get lots of sleep. I carry a sleep aid. It’s an herbal sleep remedy I get from my acupuncturist. Sometimes I find it hard to sleep in a strange bed. Most times I don’t. I find I am so tired from travel I normally sleep very well. You want to be ready for all circumstances. I use homeopathy and I carry homeopathic remedies with me as well.

I taught on a yoga cruise a few years ago and I was the only one prepared! I had sea sick meds on hand even though I never get sea sick. My dad had a sail boat when I was a kid and I have sailed in rough waters, but all the healthy people kept coming to me as their pharmacy and I had to put a stop to it. I had emergency C, vitamin C, packets, and nausea strips. I had everything, but I brought these things for me. Not other people. It taught them a lesson to be prepared as they were not. I also travel with my aromatherapy oils. I don’t carry pure essential oils except tea tree. Everything else I carry I blend beforehand. I try to create an atmosphere where I can relax so I have my lavender oil to help me sleep and relax.

Get a pill case that allows for smaller bottles of medicine. It can be labeled so you can carry it with you as you sightsee. Always carry your meds in your carry on. What would happen if your luggage was lost with all your meds? My meds never leave my side. I also lock them in my suitcase in my room if I don’t take them with me.

One more thing. I always buy travel insurance. Your travel agent can buy it for you. It includes lost luggage, being flown out by helicopter if you are ill, and medical insurance. For my two month trip around the world, travel insurance for my husband and myself cost $295.00. You have to pay for everything up front, but if you get your condition translated into english you will be reimbursed. I never filed my claim. It was only 80 euros for the 12 hour visit in Paris. My perscriptions were 12 euros.

Have fun!


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