Advice and guidance on travelling with epilepsy

18th February 2019

Whether it’s a Summer holiday, a weekend getaway or a business trip, travelling when you have epilepsy can present a number of issues, especially if you’re leaving the UK. However, rest assured that with a bit of extra preparation there’s no reason you can’t take trips abroad with epilepsy.

There are a few key things to take into consideration:

Medication

Preparing your medication for a trip is possibly the most essential thing. Firstly, it’s important that you make sure you have enough medication to last the duration of your trip. We would also advise taking more than you need just in case, it’s better to take more than you require. However, to get additional medication you may need to speak with your doctor or neurologist to obtain a prescription.

Travelling with medication can put you under scrutiny from customs officials as some medications are controlled outside of the UK. You should ensure you have all of the correct documentation, including a copy of your prescription and a letter from your doctor. Ensure you keep all medication in its original packaging as nondescript medication is more likely to attract attention. Medications currently classed as “controlled”, include:

  • Buccal midazolam
  • Clobazam
  • Clonazepam
  • Diazepam
  • Phenobarbital

If you are taking one of these medicines you should definitely have a letter from your doctor, they may charge for this. We would also recommend that you carry any medication in your hand luggage as it’s far less likely to become lost or stuck at customs.

Finally, make sure you keep to your medication routine. It can be easy to lose track during the excitement of a trip, especially if you’re in a different time zone. You may need to be particularly careful and set alarms to let you know when it’s time to take your medication.

Travel insurance

Travel insurance is a vital consideration for anybody taking a trip. We would highly recommend that a person with epilepsy never travel outside of the UK without having adequate insurance in place. Of course, this can present difficulties in obtaining cost effective insurance. We’ve covered this and more in an earlier post that you can read here

Flying

If you’re travelling by air, you should inform the cabin staff that you have epilepsy so they are aware should you have a seizure whilst in flight. This will enable them to help you in the best possible way should this occur.

If you have a vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) device, they have been known to trigger airport security alarms when you pass through the metal detector. It’s not a cause to be concerned and it’s something that the airport staff will be aware of. We would simply recommend you make it known to the scanner beforehand as they may choose to scan you with a handheld device instead.

Final advice

There are a number of other things you can do to ensure you’re well prepared for your trip and to minimise any risk. Including:

  • Wear identity jewellery, such as a bracelet or carry an ID card
  • Carry a translated card or letter explaining your epilepsy in the native language
  • Try to maintain your normal sleep schedule as closely as possible to reduce the risk of a seizure

National Epilepsy Training can help

For more information on travelling with epilepsy, call us on 01706 373075 or email admin@nationalepilepsytraining.co.uk.