Every year, hundreds of thousands of Americans travel across state lines and even abroad seeking medical treatments. Whether it’s to save on cost or receive a procedure or treatment not available at home, managing the difficulties that come with being on the road requires careful consideration.

Packing for your trip

Given the fact you might not be feeling your best, don’t add to your stress by forgetting something important. Request a doctor’s note and bring copies of your medical records that include information related to the condition for which you are obtaining care and any allergies you may have. A list of medications you take, including their brand names, manufacturers and dosages also will be helpful. Store these documents in a secure carry-on for easy access. If you’re traveling with medication, keep pills in their original containers instead of a plastic baggie or separate container.

If you’re traveling abroad, always have your passport and some foreign currency on hand for an emergency. Research rates before you go and pay attention to added fees when choosing a money-exchange option, especially if you’re anticipating a significant medical bill.

Simple comforts from home like your favorite pillow or bath robe can make a big difference during recovery. A trusted family member or friend also can serve as a source of familiarity and help with very practical matters, such as confirming travel plans and keeping people at home informed about your health status.  

Finding a place to call “home”

If medical care requires you or your caregiver(s) to stay away from home for a few nights, weeks or even months, hotels or more homelike accommodations may be available at a discounted rate. Check the hospital’s website for its preferred lodging partners and always mention you are a patient to get the special rate.

The Ronald McDonald House offers a place to call home at little to no cost for any family whose child is 21 years of age or younger and is receiving active inpatient or outpatient treatment at an area hospital or other care facility. Cancer patients or their caregivers can find a private, free place to stay with other helpful resources at an American Cancer Society Hope Lodge. Check out their respective websites to search for locations.

Traveling home safely

Navigating air travel after treatment or a procedure and understanding what accommodations are available on which airlines can be a daunting process. When it comes to security, alternate screening techniques may be available to anyone who cannot stand with their arms raised at shoulder level for the five- to seven-second duration of the scan; anyone who is not able to stand without the use of a cane, crutch, walker, etc.; people who use service animals; people using or carrying oxygen; and individuals accompanying and providing assistance to those individuals.

Properly trained staff also will be available to help passengers seeking additional care board and exit the plane. If you require a wheelchair, travel with a device with special batteries or need a hookup to the airline’s oxygen system during the flight, alert the airline ahead of time. A medical certificate or written statement from your physician saying that you’re capable of flying safety also may be required.

When it comes to traveling for care, rely on friends and families for support and talk to your physician about resources available for out-of-town patients, so you can focus on what matters most: getting better!