Travellers with special needs

If you are pregnant

Before leaving

It’s all right to travel and to be pregnant, but you must respect several strict rules. The best time to travel is during the second trimester of pregnancy. A woman who is pregnant can travel under good conditions if she carefully chooses her destination and the length of her visit. She must however do away with any unnecessary, harmful risks and carelessness for the sake of her own health and for the health of her pregnancy.

Your gynaecologist must approve of your travel plans before you leave. Make an appointment to get his/her opinion; he/she will also provide you with a health certificate, which may be required by certain airline companies. Most interior flights will generally allow you to travel right up to term; however a time limit is set for international flights. Be sure you have authorisation to travel round-trip, and not just one way.

Choosing a destination

It is extremely risky to travel to a place where you are not able to receive treatment or advice from a medical professional in case of a problem. Therefore you must be sure that the country or countries you will be visiting have proper medical structures. Contact your assistance company. They will be able to give you this information.

Countries presenting a high-level health risk should be avoided during pregnancy, except in the case of absolute necessity. At the same time, avoid high altitudes and extreme heat, which are both a source of major discomfort.

During the Trip

A long-distance flight can be very uncomfortable on legs and feet. It’s important to drink lots of water throughout the flight, to get up and walk around whenever possible and to wear support stockings. Wearing a safety belt placed snugly under the belly is obligatory and will protect both the mother and her unborn baby.

Once you have arrived, try to avoid prolonged transfers in a bus or automobile, particularly over roads unsuited to motor vehicles. Do not lift or carry heavy luggage.

Medical professionals strongly advise against practicing any aggressive sports during pregnancy, and do not recommend scuba diving or water skiing.

Travelling with young children

Before leaving

For all the information you need to know about your child and his/her particular situation, consult with your physician two months before leaving. It goes without saying that some destinations are completely inappropriate for young children.

Prepare a “child specific” medical kit in addition to your own that contains anti-pyretics (in liquid or powder form), rehydration packs, sterilization tablets (for baby bottles), anti-vomiting medication, single-dose antiseptics, an unbreakable thermometer and saline solution. However, beware that any self-administered medication, without the advice of your doctor, can be very dangerous. It is essential to verify with your doctor the recommended amounts, instructions for use and compatibility.

Remember to pack everything that your child might require in your own luggage, as well as water for the trip, children’s sun block, a sunhat, authorized inflatable arm and body buoys, mosquito repellent (be sure to ask your pharmacist as some repellents are not recommended for children) and a repellent-impregnated mosquito netting.

During the trip

Here are a few precautionary measures to follow:

• While in the airplane, have your child drink from its bottle during take-off and landing. Avoid long excursions in cars or buses, particularly in very hot climates.

• Absolutely protect your child from the sun: keep him/her in a shady, well-ventilated place. Give him/her plenty of water to drink and have them wear a sun hat, sun block and appropriate clothing. You should not expose a child less than six months of age to the sun.

• Dress you child preferably in lightweight, easy-to-wash, permeable clothing (cotton, linen…).

• Never allow your child to walk barefoot, particularly on sand or humid ground, as these surfaces can contain animal droppings, larva, insects, waste or rubbish. Be sure your child wears appropriate “beach” shoes.

• Remain alert at all times, notably when your child is swimming or near the water: pools and other swimming areas always present dangerous risks for children. A young child can drown in only a few inches of water.

• Due to the risk of parasites, do not allow your child to swim or play in ponds or rivers.

• Never let your child play with animals he/she may meet along the way. They may bite your child and be infected with rabies.

Elderly travellers

Before leaving

Life expectancy is increasing, the retirement age is getting older and senior citizens are travelling more and more. It’s essential to get a medical check-up before your departure, as this will enable both the doctor and traveller to judge whether or not the trip is even possible. It will also allow verifying whether all vaccinations are up to date and to list the medications necessary to take along, most particularly if:

• your are prone to catching colds, sinusitis or otitis

• you suffer from a chronic illness, especially: insulin-dependent diabetes, asthma, allergies, epilepsy, drepanocytosis, respiratory, cardiac or renal insufficiency,

• you are following a treatment for cancer or immune deficiency,

• you suffer from panic attacks (agoraphobia or claustrophobia),

• you’ve recently had an operation, particularly in the case of coronary insufficiency (angioplasty or a bypass operation), glaucoma, detachment of the retina, or an inner ear ailment,

• you suffer from renal colic,

• you feel angina pains,

• you are taking long-term medication for something,

• you cannot climb stairs without getting out of breath,

• you suffer from a recent vascular cerebral accident,

• your doctor discovered that you have an irregular heartbeat, that could likely lead to a fainting fits,

• you wear a pacemaker.

In case of a chronic illness or complicated previous medical history, ask your doctor to write a medical report, preferably in English, that summarises your situation (background, description of your illness, past cases, results of recent tests, etc.) and mentions your usual treatment.