Whether flying across the country or across the world, jetting with a chronic illness shouldn’t be a struggle. With a bit of preparation, and a few airline life hacks, I hope you can have a more pleasant trip. Here are some life hacks to put your mind at ease – wherever you go.
Packaging & Luggage
• Always get these things ready for packing first: mobile phone charger, laptop charger, contact lens fluids, glasses and travel documentation.
• Put a note or business card inside your suitcase in case it goes missing; it makes it easier and quicker for others to find the right owner.
• Roll your clothes instead of placing them folded up like in your wardrobe. You can take almost twice as many clothes with you in your suitcases that way. If you put it in a plastic bag, and let the air out, you can pack even more.
• Always carry over-the-counter medication in your hand (carry-on) luggage. Remember to pack the information leaflets of your medication also in case airport security needs documentation. Also, consult your doctor before traveling about how you can best transport any medications that need to be refrigerated, or medications that are liquid.
• Pack enough of any medications to last you 5 days longer than your trip if your flight is delayed.
• Take a ‘Medical Emergency List’ wherever you go. In it, list all the details that are needed to call emergency contacts, which medicine(s) to use, and contact details for doctors.
In the Airport
• Use the airline app to get your boarding pass. It’s fast and easy, and can save you a wait at the kiosk.
• Wear easy shoes to go through security. Some airports now require you to take off shoes, and wearing ones that slip on and off easily will get you through security that much quicker.
• If you’re blessed with long legs, check if the exit rows offer more leg space. You might have to pay a small fee, but it’ll do wonders if you’re on a long flight. Also, if your legs get as cold as ice like mine, pack a small blanket for your legs and feet.
• If you think you might need a wheelchair to get around the airport, remember to add that to your airline booking, as some airlines demand extra fees if wheelchairs are not booked early.
• Ask airport staff to drive you to your gate and disassemble your wheelchair as much as possible. If you would rather stay in your chair, remember to give yourself some extra time to go through security.