Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s are among the busiest long-distance travel periods of the year, increasing as much as 54 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.
Crowded roads, bus and rail terminals and airports can make holiday travel a logistical labyrinth that can even intimidate adrenalin junkies. So if you or a loved one is living with cancer, taking a trip might seem downright daunting.
Before finalizing your much-anticipated travel plans there are a few things you should be aware of. A cancer diagnosis doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t travel, but it does mean you have to plan ahead and take special steps to ensure it’s done safely.
Start by talking with your doctor. Find out if its safe for you to travel and discuss any limitations.
Air travel, for example isn’t safe for people with brain tumors because reduced oxygen levels, air pressure changes and high altitude can increase swelling in the brain.
Air pressure changes during a flight can also trigger swelling in the arms, legs, or other parts of the body, a condition called lymphedema. This can be particularly troublesome for breast cancer patients who have had lymph nodes removed, according to the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO).
Flying should also be avoided if you have undergone surgery in the last 10 days as it may cause painful gas that could stretch the incision wound, or if you are at risk of blood clots, which can be life threatening.
If you or a loved one is receiving chemotherapy, ask your doctor about any potential risks of traveling between treatments. Discuss any concerns you might have about seeking emergency medical care in the event a serious and potentially life-threatening side effect develops, such as a high fever which is a common sign of infection.
Once you have been cleared for travel, the ASCO offers these tips:
Keep all prescription medications in their original containers to avoid mix-ups and place in carry-on baggage to prevent them from being inaccessible, lost or stolen. Bring extra supplies in case your return trip should be delayed for an extended time.