Travelling With Crohns: Preparation

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I have spent the last 6 months planning and preparing for a working trip to Australia. Like everyone I had the usual parts to arrange, flights, first nights accommodation and visas. What I didn’t realise is just how much preparation my Crohn’s medication would involve.

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First of all I needed to make sure I was well enough to travel and that involved testing a few medications before finding the right one. For the foreseeable future I will be self-injecting a drug called Humira. For the last few months I have been trying it out and currently inject every 2 weeks, so far so good! You could say however, that part was the easy bit. Humira has been delivered to my home by a home care delivery company based in Staffordshire, and when my consultant said she could only prescribe 3 months worth I needed to find out how I would be able to get more from down under.

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I did quite a bit of research and all the forums stated that unless you were an Aussie citizen it would cost you around AU$2000 every 2 weeks. This is the part where we all thank the Lord for the NHS. A great way to find out more information when travelling is to use IBD Passport run by Gastro nurse Kay Greveson, with their help I have been put in touch with a Hospital in Adelaide where I will be able to sign up with a Gastro Consultant and at the very least will be able to contact them if needed. Whether I will be able to get any more treatment with them remains to be seen and I am awaiting more info from Medicare (worth a look if you’re travelling to Australia).

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Following that I asked for as much of it as possible to be prescribed and delivered for December, ready for me to leave at the end of that month. Now its a long story but I received my prescription at 9pm the night before I flew. All I can say is that you shouldn’t just trust it’ll happen, chase daily or hourly if you have to. When mine hadn’t arrived by the second week of December I was calling my consultant’s secretary and the delivery company twice a day minimum to make sure I got it in time.

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It arrived!

Also, if you are on Humira you will know that it needs to be kept refrigerated at all times, therefore I had to pay for a special cool box (made of polystyrene) and cool blocks at around £45, supposedly keeping it cool enough for up to 4 days of travelling. I wasn’t aware of this charge but when it is the day before you fly you’ll pretty much say yes to anything! Ironically, this special cool box was 20 inches by 20 inches and it wasn’t going to fit in our largest suitcase by a mile. I made the decision to decamp everything quickly into a thick Sainsbury’s zip cool bag and added extra cool blocks of my own. I’m glad to say that it made it all the way to Australia safely and was still nice and cold, so I wouldn’t say you need one of their expensive boxes!

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It was huge!

That leads me on to your accommodation. Make sure you have a fridge where this medicine can be kept. Most hotels will have a mini bar fridge which is ideal, but anywhere relatively cheap won’t have such luxury. I emailed ahead and explained my situation and they have kindly put a mini fridge in my room especially for it – and at no extra cost! I’m sure however that not everyone will be as helpful as this, just be wary of leaving all you medicine in a communal hostel fridge, you’d like to think no one would be so cruel but there’s always a risk of it going missing. See if they have a staff fridge in reception that’ll be a little safer. Alternatively if you are travelling for a long period of time then why not just buy a cheap mini fridge and take it with you?!

Check list:

  • Be settled on a treatment that works for you
  • Get a good insurer that covers pre-existing conditions
  • Order as much of the medicine as you can to take with you
  • Make sure it is delivered in advance so you have time if there are any problems
  • Make sure you order a travel medical bin too, they are much smaller and easier to take!
  • Get travel advice for how to store your medicine
  • Get a consultant letter
  • Get a letter from the medicine delivery company explaining contents for immigration & customs
  • Get a GP letter to re-confirm what medicine you have and also anything you might have on your repeat prescription just to make it easier if setting up with a GP abroad.
  • Do you need extra baggage on the flight? Some airlines will take a sealed medicine box in the hold free of charge. Call and check before departure.
  • Do you need a Crohns card to save time when out exploring new cities?

Happy travelling! If you have any questions please ask?…

hardy mon

2 comments

  • Hey

    great blog!!

    so glad I came across this tonight, I’m planning on doing the working holiday visa. And will also be taking humira along from the UK. It would be good to read about if you are successful with getting humira via PBS. from what I have read it’s as simple as taking previous records from the specialist back home, and then arranging an appointment with a specialist in Australia, via a referel from a GP. Britain and Australia have something called a reciprocating healthcare agreement. And according to the PBS website humira is available for anybody eligible for Medicare

    . It’s a massive step but one I should be hopefully making myself in the next couple of months. Neway keep us posted about how it all works out.

    Thanks and good luck.

    Floyd

    • Hi Floyd, thanks so much for your comment! I’m so glad you are deciding to travel, never let it get in the way of that. It might take a lot more preparation that other travellers but its so worth it! I have been away for just 2-3 weeks now and have only injected once so far. My British consultant was able to let me have 6 months worth of Humira, now ever though I may nit be here for that long I still brought it all. I would recommend you bring as much as you can and then you have plenty of time to set up over here and may not even need to see someone at all.

      You will have an incredible time. Keep me posted. Thanks, Lizzy

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