Epilepsy & Travel
The holiday season is almost upon us and during this time, as many of us will be getting time off from work and school, some of us may be travelling and going on vacation, including people living with epilepsy.
However, for some people living with epilepsy, sometimes the thought of even leaving their house to do something as simple as grocery shopping can cause some worry, so it is only understandable that the prospect of travelling and going on vacation could also bring up fears and anxiety.
Therefore, it is important to talk about how to manage your epilepsy and prevent the fear and anxiety associated with epilepsy while travelling or on vacation. To help lessen some of these fears and anxiety, read on for some of our helpful tips for safe travel that minimizes stress:
Visit Your Doctor:
- Before planning your trip, it is important that you talk with your doctor so they can provide you with information and assistance
- Your doctor will be able to do things like filling your prescription for your travels or signing any medical documents required for travel purposes
- You can also ask your doctor about how to manage your medication schedule if you will be travelling to a place with a different time zone
Do Your Research:
- Before planning your trip, it is important that you do research, such as checking to see that your epilepsy will not prevent you from doing the things you want to do during your vacation
- Also, if you can’t drive because of your epilepsy, it is important to look up options for other methods for transportation that are also accessible
- Click here for information on driving and epilepsy, including information on alternative transportation methods
Remember Your Medications:
- You should pack one trip-long supply of medication in your carry-on bags and another trip-long supply of medication in your checked bags
- This way, if your carry-on bag is lost, you still have enough medication in your checked bag or if your checked bag is lost, you still have enough medication in your carry-on bag
- It is also important to remember to take your medications as missing a medication dose is one of the main triggers for seizures
- You can try a weekly pill box, get your medications blister packed or keep track of your medications on your phone so that it will be easier to check if you have missed a dose
- Wearing medical identification, such as a medical ID bracelet will help make others around you aware that you have epilepsy so that they are informed
- Click here for information on options for medical identification
- You can also create a wallet card that explains that you have epilepsy, what to do if you have a seizure and has other pertinent information, such as emergency contacts, medication list, etc.
- You may also choose to translate the information on this wallet card to the language of the place you are travelling to in case English is not the main language spoken there
Eating and Drinking:
- To keep blood sugar levels up, try packing snacks while you are travelling that can be eaten on the go, in case you don’t have enough time to stop for something to eat
- To prevent dehydration, remember to drink enough water, especially if you are travelling to place with a warmer climate
- It is important to keep in mind that alcohol consumption should be avoided as it is a trigger for seizures
Get Enough Sleep:
- Sleep deprivation is one of the main triggers for seizures, so it is important to ensure that you are getting enough sleep
- Travelling, especially in different time zones, can often disrupt sleep patterns so it is important to try to ensure that you are getting the same amount of sleep each night that you would usually get at home
- Click here for information on sleep and epilepsy
- It is important to avoid triggers for your seizures
- For example, if you have photosensitive epilepsy, you may opt out of going to places with strobe lighting and flashing lights – such as discos, nightclubs or certain theme park attractions
- Click here for information on seizure triggers
- Research beforehand to find out what your medical insurance coverage will be at your destination and keep in mind that you may need to arrange for travel insurance beforehand
- You can also ask your doctor for a letter that summarizes your condition and treatment, including medications and keep it on hand to show if you need medical care during your travels
For additional information on epilepsy and travelling, please check out our Information Sheet on the topic here. We hope that people living with epilepsy and their families travelling and going on vacation this holiday season will have a fun, relaxing and safe time, no matter where your vacation takes you! Happy travels!
Happy Holidays everyone!