VIDEO: Tips for travelling with PH
Kay Yeowart MBE is the co-founder of PHA UK. Her son Lewis was diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension 20 years ago, aged 13, and the family have had many holidays together since. Here, Kay shares her tips for travelling abroad with PH and the steps to take to minimise the risks.
Before you decide to go abroad, I would always check with your specialist team that you’re well enough to go. Once you’ve had the all-clear from them, you should then start to look at travel insurance because it can be difficult to get if you have an existing medical condition. The PHA UK has a list of companies that patients have used in the past, so I would ring around the companies on there to see who will give you the best price.
If you need to fly with oxygen, you will have to check with the airline that they can accommodate you. Some airlines may provide oxygen for you, while others may ask you to bring it yourself. There may also be additional costs if the equipment is provided. Airline policies often evolve over time so it’s best to check with your airline to find out what the situation is.
You should think about going somewhere which is easily accessible – not too hilly or somewhere with lots of stairs. I always try to book somewhere with Wi-Fi because that gives you access to your specialist team back in the UK if you need it. Having Wi-Fi also allows you to make Skype calls which are much cheaper than a normal phone call. I usually put two or three pounds on a Skype account before we go.
I always make sure I take plenty of extra medication – at least a week’s worth. You never know whether there might be a travel delay or even another member of your family could get sick and you can’t travel home. I carry the medication in hand luggage so that you’ve always got it with you, and I usually split it between two pieces of hand luggage just in case one person loses theirs. It’s a good idea to carry prescriptions of all your medication just in case you need to get top-ups while you’re away.
Information about PH
I would recommend taking a written description of what pulmonary hypertension is. There are documents you can download from the PHA UK website which explain what the disease is, how it affects patients and what treatments are available. There’s also a leaflet that translates it into different languages if a doctor from another country who doesn’t speak English needs to read it.
If you need vaccinations, it’s important that you check with your specialist centre that you’re allowed to have them. There’s lots of information on the gov.uk website about which countries you need to take vaccinations for. Some areas also require you to take malaria tablets, so the same rules apply – check with your specialist team that you’re allowed to take them with your existing medication.
I think holidays are a hugely important part of life. They’re very good for your mental wellbeing, give you something to look forward to and are something positive to focus on. Whether it’s a short weekend away or a longer holiday you’ve always dreamed of, you can’t put a price on the memories you make.