Travel and cancer

Cancer and its treatment can make travel more complicated and may mean you need to take extra care of yourself and plan ahead.

The information on this page will help you to prepare for your trip away from home and let you know how Maggie's can help.

Is it ok for me to travel?

Travel when you have cancer is usually possible if you're well enough.

However, there may be times during or after treatment for cancer when it's not advisable to travel.

If you're still having, or have only recently completed your treatment you should always discuss your plans with your doctor or specialist nurse.

Make sure your plans don't clash with treatment. It can be tempting to arrange a trip in advance to give you something to look forward to. However, be aware that treatment dates may change meaning your finish date is delayed.

Ask your hospital team if you need to allow some time after your treatment finishes before you travel. Side effects can continue, and in some cases increase, for a while after some treatments.

Prepare for travelling

If you're well enough to travel, planning ahead will help to make things easier.

Make sure you have enough supplies 

Ensure you have enough medication or equipment like dressings, syringes or stoma supplies to last for your journey. 

It can be an idea to split them up and keep some in your hand luggage in case your bags get lost.

Carry a treatment summary and a list of medication

If you need medical treatment while you're away from home, you must tell them if you are having, or recently received, treatment or medication – even if you don’t think it is related.

Maintain personal hygiene

You may be at greater risk of getting infections so make sure you're aware of all the ways to minimise and manage infections when you have cancer

Take extra care in the sun

Some cancer treatments and medicines may mean your skin is more sensitive to the sun.

Make sure you know how to take care of your skin in the sun after cancer.

Communication difficulties

If language is a problem, it can help to have translated phrases handy that you may need about your cancer or treatment.

To help you communicate, you could write out cards to discreetly ask for smaller meals or to say that you need to use the toilet urgently.

Travelling abroad

If you're travelling abroad you'll also need to:

  • Check for any restrictions on travelling with medicines between countries as you may need a licence from your doctor
  • Ask your doctor for a letter if you're carrying syringes and needles 
  • Talk to the airline you're flying with as you might need additional documentation to prove you're fit to travel
  • Check if you need any vaccinations and ask your doctor if you're able to have them alongside your treatment
  • Get travel insurance or make sure your existing policy has been updated with your diagnosis and treatment details
  • Take your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) or Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) if you're travelling to the European Union. You can continue to use an EHIC card, but once expired, you will need to apply for a GHIC card to replace it.  for more information.

Access to medical care when you're away

If you're in the UK

If you're away from home and are still having treatment, or worried that you may need to see a doctor, you can call 111 or go to the nearest accident and emergency unit. 

If it's an emergency, call 999.

If you plan to stay somewhere for up to three months, you can also register as a temporary resident with a local GP.

If you're in the European Union (EU)

If it's an emergency, call 112.

In some countries, UK residents will need to pay for treatment, even in an emergency.

You can access free or cheaper treatment by getting a , using an existing  or claiming on your travel insurance.

There is up-to-date guidance on accessing healthcare, if you're visiting the EU, on the .

If you're travelling outside the EU

You should check what the emergency number is for the country you're visiting before you travel.

Make sure that your travel insurance offers you any cover you may need.

Help with the cost of a holiday

Some charities give grants to help with the cost of a holiday if you have cancer.

Check the useful links on this page for some organisations that offer grants or get in touch with us at your nearest Maggie's for help to find what's available for you.

How Maggie's can help

We're here, in our centres, on the phone and by email to talk about the challenges of planning travel when you have cancer.

Our Benefits Advisors can also help you to access any grants you may be entitled to that will help with the cost of a holiday. 

51ɫAPP your nearest Maggie's for contact details.

Last review: Dec 2021 | Next review: Dec 2022

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