Travel and Support
Travel always requires some amount of planning. People with bleeding disorders, however, need to be especially prepared when traveling.
This section of Step Up focuses on how you can travel safely. It covers:
- A Travel Letter — Don’t Leave Home Without It
- Transporting Medications Safely
- What to Carry in Your Carry-on Bag
- Preparing for International Travel
- Traveling: Don’t Do It Alone
A Travel Letter — Don’t Leave Home Without It
A Travel Letter is an official letter from your physician that describes your bleeding disorder and medical needs in the event of an emergency. You may obtain this letter from your physician to bring with you when you travel. When planning a trip, you may also notify your airline or travel agent in advance if you require extra assistance at the airport when going through screening and check-in. Because medications and medical supplies are exempt from luggage and carry-on restrictions, your Travel Letter will enable the transportation security officials to verify that your carry-on items are allowed.
Transporting Medications Safely
Medical supplies, medications, and devices related to your condition are exempt from airline baggage restrictions. Therefore, you may prefer to pack them separately to simplify the inspection process. Be mindful of any products that should not be exposed to X-rays, and don't pack them in your checked luggage.
Factor product supplies should never be packed in checked luggage for several reasons:
- Changes in temperature in an airplane's baggage compartment may affect the potency of the factor.
- The rough handling of luggage could result in broken containers.
- Your luggage—and, therefore, your factor—could be lost.
You may prefer to send larger quantities of any medications or supplies to your destination by insured mail.
Remember to clearly label all carry-on medications, supplies, and equipment. Pack some extra medicine and supplies in case you are delayed when traveling to or from your destination. Ask your Hemophilia Treatment Center (HTC) team for more information about special handling or transport services for sending large quantities of factor.
What to Carry in Your Carry-on Bag
Your carry-on bag is a great place for fragile items or things that you cannot be without in the event that your luggage is delayed arriving at your destination—or worse, goes missing.
When packing your carry-on bag, remember to pack the necessary amount of the following items:
- Reconstitution device
- Alcohol and cotton pads
- Sharps containers
Preparing for International Travel
Traveling internationally brings with it an additional set of issues for persons with bleeding disorders. For example, you may need to adjust your medication schedule to another time zone or check that your treatment is available at your destination in case you need it. As always, you should consult your physician and Hemophilia Treatment Center (HTC) team when planning an international trip. They can provide you with additional resources and inform you of issues you may not be aware of, including information on the immunizations required when traveling to certain regions of the world.
Consider Necessary Immunizations
Your primary care physician will be able to tell you about any immunizations you may be required to take before traveling to certain regions of the world. Be sure to take all of the necessary precautions to avoid any travel-related illnesses, since you are more likely to be exposed to unfamiliar pathogens when traveling.
Remember: Certain vaccinations, such as for hepatitis A and B, are highly recommended for people with bleeding disorders.
Here are some items you should consider bringing on an international trip:
- Enough factor to last for the entire time that you expect to be away from home, as well as an additional amount in case your return is delayed.
- A flash drive with important medical and contact information.
- A list of the locations of hospitals along your travel route.
- Your Travel Letter.
- Health insurance information.
- A medical alert emblem or ID.
Traveling: Don’t Go It Alone
Traveling with a friend or travel partner can be fun and, more importantly, he or she can help you in case you have an emergency during your trip. However, if you plan to travel alone, wearing a medical ID emblem will help medical personnel if you become unconscious or unable to communicate.
Support Networks for Independent Young Adults
It doesn’t matter if you’re shy or outgoing (if you typically thrive on human contact or prefer to be alone) or if you’re somewhere in between—people generally need to be around other people. This is especially true during times of crisis or when facing a personal challenge.
Many social systems and support networks exist to help people with bleeding disorders. Finding the group that best fits your needs may take some work on your part, but it will be well worth the effort in the long run.
Here are some ideas on where to look:
Keep in Touch — Keep Connected
- Your Hemophilia Treatment Centers (HTC). HTCs offer more than just medical care. Let them work with you so you can live your life to the fullest!
- Local chapters of the National Hemophilia Foundation (NHF) and other bleeding disorder organizations. Check out the calendar of events and activities. You’ll find fun things to do and interesting people to meet.
- The National Youth Leadership Institute (NYLI).
- The National Hemophilia Foundation’s leadership training program for young adults aged 18-24 years who have demonstrated leadership skills in their community. Youth Leaders implement youth events focusing on prevention and self-empowerment in their local areas.
- Involve an experienced person (the mentor) assisting another (the mentee) in developing various life skills to enhance the mentee’s personal growth. These programs exist throughout the United States and might be something for you to consider, either as a mentor or mentee.
- A popular way to give and receive support is via Internet chat rooms and discussion boards. These online forums are a great way to connect with others and share information. However, you need to be aware of some of the dangers associated with online communication, ranging from inappropriate conduct to misuse of personal information.
- Camps catering to the bleeding disorders community offer another great way to give and receive support. Some camps have counselor positions and other jobs available.