Packing for Travel with Chronic Illness

Across this page you can discover my top strategies for packing for a trip with chronic illness, a very detailed checklist for in-flight hand luggage and a general packing checklist to provide you with prompts. Use these resources to plan for your trip, copy and paste to a document or your notes app and alter the lists to suit you.

Strategies for packing for a trip with chronic illness
  • When you pack, put the suitcase on a bed sofa or table, so that it’s not on the floor.

    • For a bed or sofa lay down towels or sheets to protect the suitcase dirtying it.

  • Use as many surfaces as you can that avoid you bending down​​.

    • For example, I used an upside down laundry basket.

  • Use packing cubes to more easily distinguish items and unpack easily too.

    • ​PS pop these in the wash before you use them so they don’t smell of factory, especially if you have MCAS/sensitive skin/dermatitis.

  • Make checklists of items that you're going to need way in advance.

    • Free checklists are available below!

  • Pack in little increments over time so it’s not so overwhelming and you can pace yourself.

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My inflight hand-luggage packing checklist 

TO FLY SAFELY MEDICALLY

  • Ensure all medications for the duration of the trip are in your HAND luggage

  • A recent (last 3 months) prescription script for proof of medication requirement?

  • A doctors letter with medical conditions listed and (if required) fit-to-fly sign off?

  • Has the specific airline ‘pre-existing conditions’ page been checked and a specific medical form or fit-to-fly document filled out if required?

TO FRESHEN UP

  • Facial cleanser, moisturiser & lip balm (flights can be drying on the skin!)

  • Deodorant

  • Travel toothbrush and toothpaste

  • Pocket pack of tissues

TO AVOID ALLERGENS

  • Portable air purifier with a HEPA filter

    • One to purify the room and one that’s portable for the plane

  • Masks with a filter for airborne allergens

  • Hand sanitiser (scent free if necessary)

TO KEEP WARM

  • Lots of layers in case it gets super cold from the air conditioning 

    • Even if your destination will be warm, don't under-pack layers​

  • Hot water bottle

    • ask the cabin crew and they’ll fill this for you - if you’re cold or achey

TO HELP WITH CIRCULATION

  • Wear comfortable loose fitting clothing

  • Flight compression socks (especially if you have dysautonomia) 

  • Get up regularly to walk around and stretch your legs

  • Lie down on the floor and elevate your legs if you really need

    • check with the cabin crew for a floor area it’s safe to do so

TO KEEP FULL AND HYDRATED

  • Ensuring your specific meal has been organised if any dietary requirements 

  • A re-fillable water bottle to keep hydrated

  • Sufficient food and snacks (especially with dietary restrictions) 

TO KEEP ENTERTAINED

  • Plenty of movies/series/games downloaded to play on airplane mode-

  • Some earphones that you like with a jack to go into the entertainment TV 

  • Device chargers

  • Book or e-book(s)

TO SLEEP

  • Download a long playlist of calming sleep music or white noise

  • 3D eye mask

  • Silicone earplugs 

  • Neck pillow 

Packing checklists for Travel with Chronic illness

MEDICATIONS AND SUPPLEMENTS

Now these will be personal to each person. As I’m updating this page, these are the medications I currently require which I choose to divide into condition/symptom specific lists. If you’ve already created your own “Flare Up Toolkits” this will be a breeze putting them together. If you haven’t then once you make these lists they’ll also help with your flare up toolkit. 
 

MCAS:

Facial cleanser, moisturiser & lip balm (flights can be drying on the skin!)

  • Fexofenadine 

  • Famotidine 

  • Montelukast 

  • Ketotifen 

  • Sodium cromoglycate 

  • Asthma inhalers (bring multiple) 

  • Epipen + heat protective case

  • Allergy Cards and Foods that Can Eat Cards [templates to create your own here]

  • Courses of steroids (in case of an emergency)

  • Portable air purifier(s)

  • Masks/face coverings - I use Airinum and Vogmask 

  • Own towels and sheets

  • Own laundry detergent

(more strategies for MCAS travel on this page) 

 

PoTS:

  • Saltstick capsules and chewable

  • Electrolyte rehydration

  • Compression stockings (for flight)

  • Electric mini fan

  • Oximeter

GASTROENTEROLOGICAL:

  • Digestive enzymes

  • Toxaprevent

  • Beta TCP

  • Sick bags for the journey 

  • Anti-emetic medications

DIETARY RESTRICTIONS:

  • Allergy Cards and Foods that you Can Eat Cards

  • EpiPen

  • Medications that help in case of trigger food/allergen

    • (e.g. digestive enzymes, anti-histamines, binders, Beta TCP etc)

  • Snacks for the duration of the trip 

  • Safe/bland foods e.g. microwaveable rice, baby rice, oatcakes etc

MIGRAINE:

  • Paracetamol

  • Sumatriptan

  • Cefaly (inc electrodes) 

  • Avulux light sensitivity glasses

  • Sunglasses

 

MUSCULAR OR JOINT PAIN:

  • Ibuprofen Gel / other topical relief balms

  • Gel ice Pack 

  • Hot water bottle

  • Portable electric massager

ECZEMA:

  • Hydrocortisone cream and Elocon

  • Bria moisturiser

  • Betnovate Scalp Application

GENERAL MEDICAL KIT:

  • Travel sickness meds 

  • Imodium

  • Electrolyte or rehydration

  • Cold/flu medication 

  • Plasters & bandages

  • Mini first aid kit: containing sterile needles & syringes 

  • Antiseptic cream

  • After bite or sting cream

TOILETRIES:

  • Sun cream (body and face)

  • Aloe Vera Gel or after sun lotion

  • Mosquito repellent 

  • (Scent free) hand soap 

  • (Scent free) hand sanitiser 

  • (Scent free) cleaning wipes or cloth to wipe surfaces down 

  • (Scent free) washing up liquid/cleaning solution

  • Shampoo

  • Conditioner

  • Shower gel

  • Hair Brush

  • Hair ties

  • Facial cleanser, toner, serum, moisturiser

  • Deodorant

  • Lip Balm

  • Body moisturiser

  • Toothbrush

  • Toothpaste

  • Dental retainer/mouthguard 

  • Floss

  • Mouthwash

  • Makeup bag

  • Razor 

  • Epilator 

  • Tweezers, nail scissors & clippers

  • Female sanitary products

  • Contraception

MISC:

  • Ear plugs

  • 3D eye mask

  • Post it notes (to give reminder notes to housekeeping if you have MCAS/allergies) 

  • Snorkelling gear

 

AIDS, SUPPORTS AND PILLOWS:

  • Cervical Collar

  • Compression socks

  • Kinaesthetic tape

  • Supports for specific joints

  • Sleeping/head pillow

  • Coccyx cushion with waterproof case

  • Foldable coccyx cushion 

  • Blow up lumbar pillow

  • Travel neck pillow

  • Foldable walking stick / wheelchair /  rollator etc

CLOTHING:

This is dependent on the weather and duration of your trip.

Below are a few prompts:

  • Underwear

  • Socks

  • Pyjamas / sleepwear

  • Tops (basics/vests, t-shirts, long-sleeve)

  • Layers: jumpers / cardigans / jackets

  • Trousers

  • Shorts/skirts

  • Swimwear

  • Jumpsuits/dresses

  • Sandals

  • Shoes/trainers

  • Sunglasses / hats

  • Accessories; jewellery, belts, bags etc
     

EQUIPMENT:

  • Go Pro / Camera

  • Drone

  • Laptop (and case) + charger

  • Hard drives (for data storage) and SD cards for other camera kit

  • Games - e.g. Dobble / Uno / Monopoly deal / Card deck

  • Portable Charger

  • Extension cable

  • Adapters suitable to the location

I hope these lists are all useful for you to copy and paste and tailor to your needs, and give you some prompts to remember what might be useful for your trip. If you have any suggestions for additions or anything else you'd like me to add, please get in touch via Instagram or contact page

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