Planning holidays and travelling with cancer

Planning holidays and travelling with cancer

Planning travel

You may have dreams of just getting away from it all and travelling. The good news is that for most people this is still possible, but it may involve more preparation and may limit some of the things you can do and the places you can visit. Talk to your treating healthcare team about travelling. 


Depending on the type of cancer and treatments you’ve had, you might not be able to get the vaccinations you need to travel to some parts of the world. Check with your treatment team.

Travelling with drugs

If you are still on medication when you travel, it is important to make sure you have enough supplies to last the whole trip. You should also take extras.

Some countries limit the amount of particular drugs that you can take into the country. Your travel agent can check this out or you can contact the Australian Embassy.

For certain drugs, like morphine, you may need a letter from your doctor. This will also be helpful if you’re taking syringes, needles or portable medicine pumps with you. Carry any medical letters in your hand luggage so you have easy access to them at customs and security checkpoints.

Medical records

It is also a good idea to take printed and digital copies of medical files, in case you need to access treatment while you are away. A trusted family member can hold a copy of these documents so they can email them to you if needed. 


There are some situations where you may not be able to fly because oxygen levels and air pressures change at certain altitudes.
You may have to wait or find a place to go by car or train, if you are breathless, anaemic, have had recent surgery, or have a brain tumour and there is a chance of swelling in the brain.

Travel insurance

Getting travel insurance when you’ve had cancer can be more difficult because of the cancer history increasing the risks to the insurance company. They assume that you are more likely to:

  • Get sick and need treatment while you’re away
  • Need to come home for treatment
  • Cancel your trip because you fall ill before going.

This doesn’t mean you can’t get insurance, but it might just mean you have to shop around. How much it will cost and who will insure you will depend on things like if you are currently having treatment, what cancer you have and how old you are. Make sure you check out the fine print about what is covered.

Cancer Council NSW has a factsheet about insurance for people with cancer. Visit Cancer Council and search for ‘new insurance policies’.

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