It's summer, and everyone loves going on holiday. A holiday can improve your mood, make you feel relaxed and allow you to spend quality time with your family and friends. This can be especially important if you have cancer. 

There’s a lot for anyone to think about and plan before a holiday. There can often be more if you have cancer. In this blog, information development nurse Richard runs through a few last-minute tips and offers some advice to help make sure your holiday goes off smoothly.

Last-minute preparations
After weeks of waiting, your holiday is nearly here. You’ve arranged insurance and asked your neighbour to feed the cat, but have you:

  • sorted enough of your regular medicines and medical supplies to last the whole time you’re away – and a bit longer, just in case?
  • got a letter from your doctor to carry with your medicines if you’re going abroad? Not all medicines will need this.
  • thought about medical care while you are away? If you’re holidaying in the UK, this will not be an issue. But if you are going abroad it’s a good idea to know how to get help if you need it.

If you’ve had your spleen removed, you may be at more risk of getting an infection. Your doctor can give you some antibiotics to take away with you – just in case.

At the airport
Did you know that some cancer treatments can set off security radiation alarms at the airport?
If you’ve had any internal radioactive treatments in the last 6 months, such as radioactive-iodine for thyroid cancer, ask your doctor for a letter explaining about the treatment.

Some tests and scans, such as a bone scan, involve injections of a radioactive substance that may set off the security alarms for up to 30 days. Ask your doctor if this affects you. If you’ve had external beam radiotherapy, you don’t need to worry.

We have a load more great tips on our travel planning checklist.

Planning for the journey
Travelling to and from your holiday can be a problem if you have cancer or are living with side effects. Whether you’re going to be sitting in a car for a few hours, or on a long-haul flight, it is a good idea to plan ahead.

People with lymphoedema may find that travelling makes their symptoms worse. It can help to:

  • wear comfortable, loose fitting clothes
  • avoid sitting in one position
  • keep the affected area moving – your lymphoedema specialist can give you some gentle exercises
  • wear a compression garment for very long journeys.

If you have a stoma, or problems with your bladder or bowels, you might want to:

  • try to book an aisle seat closer to the toilet
  • carry some supplies in your hand luggage
  • find out where the toilets are in any UK towns or cities on your route
  • carry a Toilet Card, which helps you get access to a toilet more quickly.

While you are away
You’ve arrived safely and looking forward to a relaxing break. Here are a few tips to make sure you stay safe while there!

  • Be careful what you eat and drink – as some infectious diseases are carried by contaminated food and drink.
  • Take care in the sun – protect your skin with a SPF 30 sun cream, a wide brimmed hat and light, cotton clothing.
  • Avoid the sun at the hottest times of the day – usually 11am to 3pm.
  • Use an insect repellent to avoid bites.
  • Be careful around animals that may seem harmless – bites and scratches can be dangerous.

There’s more information about travel and holidays on our website. Or order our free booklet Travel and cancer. And our travel insurance blog shares Online Community members' tips and recommendations for getting travel insurance when you have cancer.


To see what else Macmillan's cancer information team has been blogging about, please visit our blog home page! You can subscribe to receive our blogs by email or RSS too.

We're with you every step of the way

The Macmillan team is here to help. Our cancer support specialists can answer your questions, offer support, or simply listen if you need a chat. Call us free on 0808 808 00 00.

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