People with epilepsy can travel including overseas and should be encouraged to do so. Travelling enhances independence and self reliance. Like all travellers, planning is important.
Aside from the preparation for medications and possible seizures, it is good practise to follow some general travel guidelines such as:
Have copies of your documents with you as well as with someone at home. These should include copies of passport, credit cards, emergency contact numbers of next of kin and numbers to call if you lose any documents of importance.
Give friends or family a copy of your itinerary and make regular contact with at least one person.
Make or update your Will
Preparing for your trip
- Find out possible health care standards that you can expect at your destination.
- Investigate travel insurance. Most travel insurance companies regard epilepsy as a pre-existing condition and will charge a higher premium for insurance. Shop around or ask the travel agent for assistance.
- Consider getting a medical ID bracelet that gives details of seizure type and current treatment. Some identification is always advisable particularly when carrying medications.
- Obtain a letter from the Doctor stating your details, type of seizures, medications prescribed and if the doctor can be contacted if needed. The letter can be presented to customs or a treating doctor if required.
- It is important that the medication be carried in the container in which they were dispensed that showing your name, the medication name and dose prescribed.
- Take ample supply of medications.
- Keep a supply of medications in different places, eg. baggage and carry-on luggage, so that if you lose one there is a supply somewhere else.
- Check the medication is available in the countries to be visited. It may have a different name or may be slightly different, but the pharmaceutical company can to inform you of these details.
- As tiredness is a common trigger for seizures avoid fatigue and jet lag by allowing adequate rest time during and immediately after the trip. If the flight is lengthy a stopover should be considered.
- If seizures are likely to occur during the trip take a travelling companion who is familiar with seizures or join an organised tour that has a trip leader who can assist if seizures occur and medical treatment is needed.
- If you drive in Australia and wish to drive in another country, check their guidelines on driving and epilepsy as these vary from country to country. Having a licence does not automatically mean you can drive in another country.
- Ask the airline what they do in case of a seizure in flight so you will know what to expect.
During the flight
When travelling, space the medication doses over a 24 hour period if changing time zones. For example if medications are normally taken morning and night then work out or discuss with the doctor a timing regime.
- Avoid alcohol and other drugs.
- Avoid dehydration by drinking adequate amounts of water during the flight.
When in another country
Check that drinking water is safe, even brushing your teeth in contaminated water can cause gastric upset. Vomiting & diarrhoea will cause reduce the absorption of the medication and cause seizures.
For further information:
Travelling with Prescription Drugs - Travel Doctor
Have a safe trip and enjoy your travels!