Have Transplant, Will Travel — Travel Tips for Transplant Patients
Having an organ transplant shouldn’t keep anyone from traveling but it does require some extra planning and precautions to ensure your health and safety. Whether on the waitlist or post-transplant, travel is often not only a necessity but also a great source of joy for many.
Whether by plane, train, or automobile, check out these simple tips for smooth travel ahead.
1. Medication — Carry-on is Key!
Medications play a crucial role in the health of your transplant organ, so this item is at the top of the list.
- If flying, always pack your medications in your carry-on bag, so you don’t risk missing any doses due to a flight delay or missing checking bag, which happens way too often. When flying, be sure to keep medicines in their original bottles so you don’t trigger any questions from TSA while going through airport security.
- Bring more medication than you need. Things happen, this way you’re prepared. It’s also a good idea to ensure your prescriptions have refills in the event you need to call one in while traveling.
- This one may sound simple, but it’s over overlooked for just that reason: time changes. Because transplant recipients take their medications at the same time every day, it’s important to note any changes and set medication reminders as needed. AlloCare, the app for transplant patients, can help; users can manage medication and set reminders directly through their phone. To download AlloCare, click here.
As one transplant recipient shared, “Most of my transplant travel plans revolve around medications—when will I take them, and will time zones change this at my destination? Will I take them enroute, do I have water and snacks packed? Also, can I fill prescriptions early to have extra on-hand in case of a travel delay.”
- Last, be sure to pack any additional medical equipment and/or items to keep you comfortable. For some, a blood pressure cuff may be necessary, for others to recreate the comforts of home, items such as a heating pad or gel pack, may prove helpful.
2. Keep it Clean
Whether navigating the airport or getting settled into your seat on the plane, both are heavily traveled places with lots of surfaces that often get touched by passengers coming and going, which means germs. Keep your sanitizing wipes close so you can wipe down hard surfaces, such as plane tray tables, seatbelt buckles, and door handles.
As some added protection, be sure to pack your hand sanitizer so you can kill germs you may have come in contact in a pinch, especially when you don’t have access to soap and water.
Last, don’t forget your mask! Just because they’re no longer required in most places doesn’t mean they aren’t a good idea and added level of protection—especially for transplant recipients who are immunocompromised.
3. Safe in the Sun
Chances are, anywhere you’re traveling, you’ll find the sun. Be sure to bring your sun protection with UVF protection, sunglasses, hat, cover-up, water bottle, and seek shade when outdoors. And don’t forget to apply sunblock while sitting near windows on the plane or riding in a car; airplane windows and windshields do not provide any UV protection.
4. In Case of Emergency
While we hope for smooth sailing while traveling, being prepared for an emergency is a great first step to mitigate risk. Here are a few tips that may help in an urgent situation.
- Keep a record of any necessary contacts that may needed in a pinch, including your transplant care team, pharmacy numbers, etc.
- While hopefully not needed, scout out nearby healthcare providers and hospitals in case you need to pay them a visit.
- Let your doctor/transplant care team know you’ll be traveling. One thing to consider is whether any places you’ll be visiting where certain infections or diseases may more common (ex. malaria). If so, it’s best to discuss these concerns with your transplant physician prior to your trip.
“Make sure you know where to go if you do get sick,” shared one transplant recipient. “Visit the travel clinic beforehand if traveling abroad, and be careful with what you eat and drink, especially in a foreign country.”
And perhaps the best travel tip of all—enjoy yourself!
This information is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice from your healthcare provider. You should always seek the advice of your physician or medical team with any questions you may have regarding your specific medical condition.