Travelling

Check out our top tips on travelling with axial SpA (AS)

This information is for anyone with axial spondyloarthritis (axial SpA) including people with ankylosing spondylitis (AS)

Tips for travelling with axial SpA (AS)

  • Axial SpA (AS) in a foreign language. It may be worthwhile finding out what axial SpA (AS) and any other medical conditions you have are called in the country you are travelling to in case there’s an occasion (such as a medical emergency) where you need to share your medical information
  • Assistance. Always tell your airline, travel agent or tour operator when you book if you are going to need assistance when you travel
  • Biologic therapy. If you are travelling with your biologic therapy, it’s important to make plans to keep it at the correct temperature during the journey and at your destination. Do talk to your Homecare Delivery company who may have some good suggestions. You can buy special cool bags and even travel fridges. A company specialising in these products is MedActiv. Another option is to use a Frio wallet or carry case. These are designed to keep insulin cool but work for some biologic pens. You can buy these through Amazon. You may also need a travel size sharps box. Do discuss this with your Clinical Nurse Specialist or your delivery team. Do travel with your biologic therapy in your hand luggage. Do not put it into the hold of a plane. Do ensure you carry a prescription with you to help you pass smoothly through security.
  • Booking When you are thinking about booking your holiday don’t forget the Give as You Live website. This is a service which allows you to raise money as you shop. Simply go to www.giveasyoulive.com and when you’ve set up an account you’ll be ready to shop! A wide variety of travel companies are involved retailers are involved such as British Airways, Monarch, Thomas Cook, First Choice and Expedia. Each gives a percentage of the purchase price to NASS.
  • Codeine based medications. Some prescription medications, including codeine based medications, are illegal in some other countries. Check with the embassy or consulate of the countries you are travelling to and find out if it is legal to bring your medications into the country. If your flight is not direct and you have a transfer do check for every country on your journey. For example, quite a few long-haul flights stop in Dubai where it is not legal to be in possession of codeine based medication
  • Copies of your prescriptions. Carrying copies of your prescriptions in your hand luggage will be important if you are stopped and questioned about the medications you are carrying
  • European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). If you are travelling to Europe, the EH1C card will entitle you to free or low cost healthcare in most countries
  • Infections and communicable diseases. These can be more severe in people who are on biologic therapy or other medications which affect the immune system. You may need urgent assessment and treatment, if you have come into contact with someone who has one of these infections. Remember different parts of the world have more risk of certain infectious diseases than others.
  • Medication. Make sure you have sufficient medication to cover the entire period you will be away. It may be an idea to take double the amount you’ll need for your trip. This way you’ll have a back-up if you were to lose some of your drugs during your trip. Always carry your medication in a correctly labelled container as issued by your pharmacist
  • Travel insurance. Make sure you have comprehensive travel insurance to cover your trip, and carry copies of your insurance documents with you in case of an emergency. Which? have a regularly updated ‘best rate’ table to help you find affordable cover
  • Vaccinations. If you are on biologic therapy and need vaccinations for the countries you are planning to visit, do make the nurse aware you are on biologic therapy and highlight that live vaccines are not recommended

Planes

Under European law, disabled persons and persons with reduced mobility have legal rights to assistance when travelling by air. It’s important to let airlines know your needs at least 48 hours before you travel. If you don’t then you risk not getting the help you need and may even be unable to board the plane. However, even if no notification is given, airports are still required to make all reasonable efforts to provide assistance.

If you have a disability which affects your mobility, at European airports you have the right to help:

  • At specific arrival points, such as at terminal entrances, at transport interchanges and in car parks
  • To reach check-in
  • With registration at check-in
  • With moving through the airport

Trains

You can give National Rail train companies advance notice if you think you’ll need any help from staff. You can also check if a station has accessible facilities.

If you’re eligible you can get up to a third off rail tickets by applying for a disabled person’s railcard.

Ships

You can get help if you’re disabled and travelling on any of the following:

  • A cruise ship that’s leaving from a port within the EU
  • A ferry that’s leaving from or going to a port within the EU
  • A local ferry service

If you need to make specific arrangements for your journey (for example you have certain accommodation or seating requirements), you should tell the cruise line, ferry service, travel agent or tour operator when you book your ticket.

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