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My Top Tips for Traveling with a Chronic Illness

Traveling with a chronic illness! Is that even possible? One of my readers recently made a comment about her desire to travel despite her chronic illness. I was inspired to share my own experience traveling with a chronic illness.

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Most people know how much I love to travel. But not many, even those who know me personally, know that I have Crohn’s Disease. In a nutshell, it can give you intense abdominal pain and symptoms that resemble food poisoning. That’s definitely not what you’d like to experience on a trip abroad. So I want to share my tips that can help anyone else that also suffers from a chronic illness. Because as many people as possible should be able to travel.

Travel Insurance

This is the peace of mind you need when you have a chronic disease. Getting sick in an unfamiliar area is not a game. You can get travel insurance through your airline when purchasing tickets or an insurance company. If you’re interested in seeing what travel insurance actually covers for your specific trip, click here

Medication for your chronic illness

Bring your medication. Bring extra bottles of your medication. For certain medicines this may mean obtaining prior authorization from your doctor.


Have a list of all your medications. Keep this list and your medications in your carry-on. I don’t recommend putting them in your checked luggage.

Make sure you take your medications on time. It is easy to forget when you are in another place and off of your regular schedule. Especially if your travels take you in between many time zones and you don’t know what day it is. Trust me I know. But do your best.

My medicines have changed over the years. In 2021 I started taking medicine in needle pens that require refrigeration. I wondered how this would affect my traveling. Thankfully there are options.

Nowadays there are many ways to transport this type of medicine. There are refrigerated canisters that keep your medicine cold using USB cords. Then there are cooler bags that are like small lunch bags. This is what I used when I traveled to Costa Rica last summer.

Keep in mind that when the ice packs unfreeze they will be considered liquids. I almost missed a flight when the TSA stopped me due to my ice packs. Check the storage conditions for your particular type of medicine. Mine can be kept at room temperature as long as it’s used within a certain timeframe. I opted to give my melted ice bags to the TSA. It was not worth missing my flight over them. (If you have time to spare there is a way for them to test them for suspicious substances and return them back to you. I had no time for this.) Definitely do research beforehand if you have medicine that requires special conditions.


No one wants to think about being hospitalized in an unfamiliar place. It’s better to be prepared no matter where you are, when you have a chronic illness.


Create instructions beforehand of what should be done if you need to be hospitalized. This includes any allergies/medicine interactions that you are aware of.

Do research as to the types of medical facilities available in the places you will be traveling to. Many places are very different from where you live.

It’s Okay to not Feel Okay

I think the scariest thing about traveling with a chronic illness is being afraid of feeling “not okay.” And that is okay. I’ve been on flights (some of them very long) where I felt so sick. All I wanted to do was wrap myself up in a blanket and be alone. But you’re not alone. You’re with 300 strangers. You may get to your destination and need to rest. Maybe your pace isn’t as fast as other travelers around you. That’s perfectly fine.

A Final Note

I am not a medical professional. Anyone with a chronic illness should consult their doctor before planning a type of trip they’ve never taken before. According to the CDC, some medicines can make individuals more susceptible to travel-related infections.

In any case, travel as far as you’re able to. Bon Voyage!

Updated: January 2023

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