Travelling with a mental health condition

Dusting off your suitcase from the loft, and getting excited for your holiday makes the rainy days easier. But when you are travelling with a mental health condition you may find it overwhelming. The planning, saving and actual travelling itself, followed by settling into an unfamiliar environment, can feel like a mammoth task.

But don’t worry, help is at hand. We’ve got some useful tips on how to make the transition from home to holiday as smooth as possible, so you can enjoy your trip in no time.

Remember to look after yourself. It’s really important both at home and on holiday. Added to that, a little bit of forward planning so there are no surprises.

Several things can contribute to a disruption of stable mental health whilst travelling:

·         Separation from loved ones

·         Change in time zone and impact on your sleep

·         Unfamiliar surroundings

·         Language barriers

Have a think about how these might affect you when you go away and how can you reduce the impact.  Could you invite a friend to travel with you?  Could you pre-plan a regular skype call to someone back home to keep in touch? Can you do a virtual tour online to acquaint yourself with the places you will be visiting?  A lot of hotels have videos of the bedrooms and resort and some of the excursions often have their own websites with useful information to decide if the trip is right for you. Check out where there is some great videos.

There are some fantastic tools and apps which can help with translating foreign languages and planning sleep diaries to reduce jet lag, so check them out in advance.

Don’t forget to tell your travel insurer about any medical conditions you have. Remember medical conditions travel with you, so if in doubt, declare it.  Travel insurance covering mental health conditions isn’t unusual. Just make sure you spend some time getting suitable insurance which meets your needs and never be afraid to call if you have any questions.

Your insurer may not cover you for any extra medication needed if you are delayed on your return home. If you do take any medication for your condition you should discuss with your doctor the option to take extra medication with you abroad in case you do end up being there longer than expected.

Some medications (including prescriptions) may be illegal in some countries – always speak to your doctor about your trip and check the foreign and common wealth office for advice.

If at any point you feel your mental health may be deteriorating seek help or advice early – speak with a friend and agree your next steps which might be contacting your insurer for assistance.

Keep details of friends, family and/or carers with you when you travel and fill in the details on the back of your passport. It is a good idea to carry a ‘travelling letter’, which gives a brief description of your health needs, diagnosis and, if appropriate, details of any difficulties that could occur and what assistance you might then need.

Take your time. Do things at your own pace. After all, it’s your holiday.

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