Travelling with epilepsy

15 Tips for Travelling with Epilepsy

by Daniel

The Daniels family has a thirst for travel. Their daughter Morgan, has multiple disabilities and their adventures involve the use of a wheelchair. The family’s biggest fear while travelling with Morgan is the possibility of an epileptic seizure, so they take specific measures to ensure they are prepared for such an event. Epilepsy is a severe medical condition. Before Morgan was diagnosed and medicated, she almost lost her life during a massive, uncontrolled seizure. It’s important to be prepared, so the Daniel’s family is sharing their tips for travelling with a family member with epilepsy.

15 Tips for Travelling with Epilepsy

  1. If you haven’t already got one, ask your doctor for an epilepsy plan. A plan will ensure that everyone knows what to do in the event of a Tonic-Clonic Seizure. This should always be carried with the person with epilepsy.
  2. Taking extra medication and prescriptions is essential when travelling. Expect the unexpected. For many reasons, you may be stuck in a country for longer than you expect and some countries around the world may not stock your medication.
  3. Keep your medication in its original box/container, and carry them in your hand luggage. Do not place it in checked baggage, you may need it onboard.
  4. Ask your doctor to write a letter explaining the types of seizures that are likely to occur, and recent history, including hospital admissions.
  5. Take your medication on schedule. This can be an issue when travelling long distances.
  6. If you have triggers for seizures such as stress, heat, sleep and so on, try to avoid as best you can.
  7. Depending on how stable your condition, and the severity of your seizures, most airlines will require medical clearance before flying with epilepsy. You will need to download a copy of the clearance form from the airline’s website. Complete your section of the application form, and have your doctor complete the rest. You can ask the doctor’s receptionist to fax the form directly to the airline administration.
  8. When travelling overseas, a doctor’s letter listing all medications you require for epilepsy is essential for customs clearance at the airport. If you require sharps (needles), you will need the doctor to mention this. We have never been stopped at customs for this, but better to be safe than sorry.
  9. Organise your travel insurance before booking your holiday to avoid disappointment.
  10. Travel insurance is not compulsory, but you don’t want to get caught needing medical assistance without it. You may find it more expensive if you have existing medical conditions, but without it, the consequences can be disastrous. Medical evacuation can cost thousands of dollars. Tell the insurance company everything. Being dishonest to save a few dollars will void your cover. We recently paid over AUD$1000 for Morgan’s travel insurance as she had a hospital admission in the previous twelve months. Most insurance companies would not cover her, even though we had insured with them previously.
  11. Once onboard the aircraft, talk to the cabin manager and nearby passengers about your condition, so they are aware.
  12. Research hospitals in and around your destination so you are prepared in the event of a seizure which requires medical assistance. A simple internet search will help with finding appropriate facilities.
  13. Research doctors in and around your destination. Find a doctor that speaks your language. Enter phone numbers of hospitals and doctors into your contact list before leaving. In the heat of the moment, trying to find phone numbers is nerve-wracking and time-consuming.
  14. Once at your destination, take the time to familiarise/introduce yourself to local medical professionals.
  15. Travelling with a medical ID Bracelet is great for alerting medical professionals to your condition.



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