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7 Ways to Prepare for Traveling Abroad with a Chronic Illness

If you’re like me, the thought of wandering and exploring a new country for weeks is so exciting you can’t help but browse Instagram for travel inspiration photos just for your daydream indulgence. If you get lost scrolling, don't worry. Me too.

I’ve spent summers in the Philippines, I’ve studied abroad in Bali for 6 weeks, and last year I stayed in Thailand for a month. It’s totally doable! (That is if you’re currently in a stable state and haven’t had a flare for awhile.)

Having a chronic illness can definitely make it very complicated but if you plan and prepare correctly, you can be off to see the world, travel and live your dreams!

1. Talk to your doctor

First things first, let your doctor know that you plan on being out of the country for a long time. You can discuss whether or not it’s a good time for you to do so and they should also set you up with your medications.

Be sure to them know if you have any concerns.

2. Research your city

A little research on your city can go a long way in terms of what to expect and how to prepare. Know the weather, know how accessible wifi is, know if you need…

3. Prepare your medications

So I had this impression that all pillboxes that exist were all ugly and  boy was I wrong. It wasn’t until last year when a friend bought me a pillbox that I fell in love with! This pillbox from Port and Polish Co is super classy and stylish, and it also has a great long mirror!

I’ve had mine for almost a year now and it’s so easy to just slip into my bag and use for a weekend trip for example.

4. Communicate

This is mainly for those who are studying abroad but let program coordinators know as soon as possible. Let them know what accommodations you need, if you’ll need to sit out for some activities, and other important issues you may think of.

When I studied abroad for Bali, I let them know that I had Lupus and would need to rest more often and possible skip out on some excursions. As a result, they ended up giving me my own room (everyone else had roommates) and I was extremely comfortable and could rest and relax peacefully.

5. Get travel insurance

Travel insurance is one of the most important things you’ll need to have for your trip. It’s worth getting because you’ll get reimbursed if your camera breaks, if your flight gets canceled, if you have a personal emergency back at home and you have to fly back, and much more.

However most importantly is it can provide you medical coverage if you get sick or injured! It’s all-around coverage that’ll allow you to have peace of mind throughout your trip and that alone makes it worth it! Especially having a chronic illness.

Fortunately, I’ve never been in a situation where I had to use my travel insurance for medical reasons but trust me, get it!


6. Don’t give up your self-care routines and plan for adjustments

Whatever you’re doing right now to take care yourself, do not quit when you travel or plan for alternates. Think ahead on what you may need to adjust your routine to. For example, instead of doing your usual 30 minute yoga everyday, reduce it and commit to at least 5-10 minutes to 4 times a week.

This goes along with your diet, journaling, meditating, and any other self-care practices in your toolbox. Have a plan on how to incorporate these things ahead of time and you’ll be setting yourself up for a healthy and happy trip.

7. Set boundaries for yourself and be flexible

Only you can be the judge of how much you can do on any given day and you have to manage your time and energy wisely. Some days you’ll feel like you venture for hours and others you may just want to stay in. That is absolutely okay! Know yourself well enough to give yourself what it needs especially if it’s rest and be flexible!


8. Visualize yourself having fun!

I know I said 7 things but this one is important-- you gotta have the right mindset! As long as you are prepared, then you have nothing to worry about. Have an open mind and set yourself up to enjoy the wonders of travel.

Traveling is one of my favorite things that fills my soul and allows me to learn about the world around me. Do you have any travel stories while traveling with chronic illness? Let me know!

My poetry book where I talk about life with Lupus is set to release winter of 2019.

And if you enjoyed this article, please consider purchasing an art print or pin to support my work. Thank you!

1 comment

  • I in no way consider myself to be chronically ill but have some health issues that require careful preparation when I travel. I said that to say, I do every single thing you listed and it works! Some travel experiences are better than others, but everything you listed is perfect! Thank you so much for posting this and help others!

    Ariel Evans

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