Travel services when you have cancer
There are some services that travel companies might have that you might find useful if you have cancer.
Most travel companies (including airlines, ferry companies and coach tour operators) have a medical officer. This person can help you decide whether or not it’s safe and practical for you to travel. The medical officer can be contacted before you leave and can help you plan your journey. They can also be contacted during the trip.
You can get information from your travel company on:
arranging early boarding
preparing special foods (if you have specific dietary needs)
booking a wheelchair.
If you think you’ll need oxygen during a flight, you’ll need to contact the airline well in advance of your journey to check their policy on taking oxygen while you’re on the plane. There may be a cost for this. To find out about making arrangements to have oxygen supplied at your destination, visit homeoxygen.nhs.uk
The British Red Cross can provide personal transport services across the UK. These services include providing a companion for a journey on public transport or a private car with a driver. A contribution towards costs is usually asked for, but no one will be refused a service because they can’t pay. In Wales, St John Wales can provide transport for people who have difficulty using public transport or their own vehicles. In Scotland, you can download a ‘Safe Journey Card’. This card can be used to privately let bus drivers know you have mobility problems. In Northern Ireland, anyone receiving the mobility component of Disability Living Allowance can travel at half the usual cost through the Concessionary Fares Scheme organised by Translink.
Costs for extra services may vary from one service provider to another, so it’s best to get several quotations.
When you book your trip, it’s important to give clear, detailed information about your health to the travel companies. This way, your condition can be taken into account from an early stage and any necessary adjustments can be made in advance. It’s a good idea to carry a full summary of your medical condition with you. Ideally you should also carry a copy that’s translated into the language of the country you’re travelling to.
If you have mobility problems, there are many services available to help you. The Disabled Living Foundation can give you practical advice about equipment for independent living.
Travel can be very expensive to arrange if you have mobility problems. Potential costs can include:
transport to and from the airport or other arrival point
expenses for a travel companion or helper
payment for extra seats if a stretcher is needed (or a reclining first class seat if this is cheaper or recommended)
the cost of transporting any equipment that may need to be taken.
Help with holiday costs
Many organisations provide holiday accommodation for adults and children with cancer. Some organisations also provide financial help to enable people with cancer to have a break with their families. Our cancer support specialists can give you more details.
Macmillan also provides grants to people affected by cancer who want to go on a much-needed break. You need to apply through a health or social care professional, such as a social worker, district nurse or Macmillan nurse (if you have one).