Travelling Abroad

If you are thinking of travelling abroad on holiday or for your job, the important thing to remember is preparation is the key. If you are prepared, you can expect worry-free travel.

Travelling abroad

What do I do when I go on holidays

What if I want to go travelling?

Like moving house, the art to travelling with haemophilia is all about preparation. The more prepared you are, the more relaxing and worry-free your trip is likely to be. Here’s what you can do before you jet off around the world:

  • Notify your haemophilia centre that you are planning to go travelling and they will be able to offer you a heap of advice and travel tips. They will also be able to give you a list of haemophilia centres abroad, which you can contact before you go, so that they can help you out in case of emergency
  • Organise travel insurance that covers people with haemophilia. The Haemophilia Society will be able to provide you with a list of insurance companies that offer this type of insurance
  • The health service abroad may not be as efficient or sophisticated as the health service you are used to, so it’s important that you take enough factor with you to cover your whole trip and a bit extra in case you experience a bleed on your travels
  • If you are planning to stay in a country for a long time, contact a haemophilia centre in that country to ensure that long-term factor supplies are available to you for the duration of your stay
  • Ask your local haemophilia centre if they can help you get your travel letter translated into the language of the country you’re travelling to. This could help you:
    • Explain to customs officials why you are carrying factor, needles, syringes etc.
    • tell overseas healthcare professionals about your condition
    • gain permission from an airline to carry factor and kit in hand luggage
  • Carry your haemorrhagic states or MedicAlert bracelet on you at all times, so that if you have an accident, the emergency services know that you have haemophilia
  • Check the guidelines and restrictions around travelling with medications in the country to which you are travelling. An airline must be informed well in advance of any needles you need to take with you on a plane
What I need

What do I need to do before I travel?

Aside from all the normal preparations (i.e. making sure you have an up‑to‑date passport, checking the visa requirements for the countries you’ll be visiting, and getting immunised if you need to), we’ve written you a list of things you should do before you leave the country.

Tell the tour operator/travel agent about your condition

They can help you when you travel and arrive at your destination (e.g. arrange for a fridge in your room to keep your Clotting Factor cool )

Get the right insurance

Find an insurance company that will cover pre-existing medical conditions, and remember to check your policy carefully to see what you’re covered for. If you’re visiting the EU, you can apply for a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) card online at: ehic.org.uk, over the phone on: 0845 606 2030, or by post with the EHIC form and pre-addressed envelope from the Post Office. (N.B. It can take up to 21 days to receive your EHIC card when applying by post.) This card entitles you to free basic medical care in the event of an emergency. However, it may not entitle you to the full costs of haemophilia treatment

Stock up on Clotting Factor

Take enough Clotting Factor for the whole of your holiday, plus a little more in case you need it.

Keep your Clotting Factor cool

If you can't access a fridge, store it somewhere in the shade away from direct sunlight. Please check the patient information leaflet for your factor, or alternatively speak to your haemophilia centre before travelling

Get a letter describing your condition from your Haemophilia Centre

This is primarily to help ease the passage through airport security and customs; unfortunately needles, syringes and drugs can arouse suspicion about drug trafficking and terrorism. However, official letters explaining what your condition is, what treatment is being given, and why needles, syringes and Clotting Factor are needed can help. They can also be shown to overseas medical personnel in case of an emergency. It may be an idea to get the letter translated into the language of the country you are travelling to. Your Haemophilia Centre will be able to help you with this.

You could ask your Haemophilia Centre to contact a Haemophilia Centre in the country you’re going to.

Take your Bleeding disorder information Card, detailing your condition, in case of an accident

If you don’t have one of these, talk to your Haemophilia Centre who will be able to provide one. Alternatively, you could wear a Medic-Alert bracelet, which is recognised internationally. 

Pack your infusion equipment and Clotting Factor in your hand luggage

Pack your infusion equipment and Clotting Factor in your hand luggage just in case your bag gets lost or stolen.

Telephone the airline, train (i.e. Eurostar) or ferry company in advance

It’s handy to know if they have any additional requirements

Backpacking

Always plan ahead when travelling abroad, and bring enough Clotting Factor for your entire trip. Talk to your haemophilia healthcare professionals if you’ll be backpacking for a long time, or are going somewhere where it’ll be difficult to keep your Clotting Factor cool. It is possible to get your Clotting Factor sent abroad, to be picked up on location (i.e. from a local Haemophilia Centre), but this needs to be arranged in advance. It’s also worth noting that heavy backpacks are no more likely to cause a bleed to people with haemophilia, than to those without, as long as you take your Clotting Factor regularly.

Developing countries

Generally speaking, travelling to countries without haemophilia support is not recommended. This is because their health services may not be able to treat you if you have an accident, or need an operation. For more information, speak to the healthcare professionals at your Haemophilia Centre.

What if I have an accident whilst I am away?

Remember, carry your Bleeding disorder information Card or wear a Medic-Alert bracelet in case of an emergency. Photocopies of any prescriptions, the letter from your Haemophilia Centre, and a translation of essential phrases may also prove invaluable if you have an accident. If you have adequate travel insurance, you will be covered for any medical emergency.

For information on comprehensive care centres and the Haemophilia society you may wish to visit the support section.

If you require any more information on travel, talk to your Haemophilia Centre who will be able to help you.

You can also visit the Haemophilia Society website

References

  1. Richards M et al. Br J Haematol 2010;149(4):498-507.
  2. Manco-Johnson MJ et al. N Engl J Med 2007;357:535-544.
  3. Khair K et al. Haemophilia 2012;18(6):898-905.
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