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Travelling to Australia - advice please

My in-laws live in Australia and my sister-in-law has just announced her engagement. She and her fiance made the effort to come over to the UK to our wedding two years ago, even though her fiance was about to sit some exams, and I would like to go to her wedding. The problem is that the furthest I have been since being diagnosed with lupus and RA is Austria and since then I have been prescribed Abatacept, which needs refrigerating.

Does anyone have any tips about managing the journey to Australia/NZ? I am quite mobile, so don't need a wheel chair or anything. but I can't bend, stretch and carry stuff without getting tired quickly. I understand the flights to Oz are exhausting even if you are in good health. I would like to actually enjoy the wedding when I get there.... Any advice would be welcome, also about managing with the weather in Australia too, I don't do well in humid heat. Thanks in advance!

11 Replies

Whatever you do - request airport assistance. It saves all the standing about at immigration, they grab your cases for you and deliver you to where you need to be without you stressing about it. I have been assigned a wheelchair - which I don't REALLY need, but if I don't have to stand/walk that is fine by me! OH gets to tag along so he gets through the crew immigration line too.

Last time we went to Oz we stopped in Hongkong for the weekend going out and Singapore coming back. The flights are still long - but bearable. Make sure you get there early - a few days before the event is worth a lot.

I can't help with your biologic - but I'm fairly sure there are ways of dealing with it. Others may know.


Thanks, that's very helpful. I will look into airport assistance. Yes, we will definitely get there a few days before. I am thinking we would need to put in a special request for three weeks off from work. She hasn't picked a date yet, so it's all thinking about it at the moment.


Check out reciprocal medical arrangements. I thought I could just go to NZ A/E to get an antibiotic script but it looked as though it was going to cost. I was told I needed a NZ doctor's script. I thought we had good crossover. An acquaintance used to caravan travel Australia and have her Chemotherapy by arrangement at local hospitals.

I can wear synthetics in southern states.


I am Brisbane. Airport assistance I hear is great. One 90 year old used to go through airports with his wheelchair and that would be the last he used it when he visited his son!!! Break the journey I hear..twice if need be. I cannot wear synthetic fabrics in the sun. Not sure about refrigeration. I think you can get like heat packs only when you activate them they are cold. Not sure what else you can do. Maybe the PR person at the Airlines can help. I think there are funny rules about dry ice and carrying the prize fish you caught!!! Not sure if miniature plug in esky is a goer.


Hi Space99

Thank you for your advice. Your reply made me smile because my husband refers to Eskys too. I had no idea what he meant at first :) We just call them cool boxes over here. I'll call the airline when we book and talk to them



Hi Jennifer, I live in Melbourne and have travelled to the UK, once since diagnosis.

Yes ‘wheelchair’ assistance is very good especially as said before, getting through immigration.

It is a good idea to stop over for a night wherever your chosen airline refuels. And obviously give yourself at least 3 days to recover once here. All of the stop over destinations are hot!

It’s not actually very humid here. If you are coming to … well any state except Queensland and the north of WA ( Northern Territory is a different world altogether!) the climate is temperate and rarely above 24 degrees after February. Winter is quite cold...often 14-17 degrees.

With your ‘biologic ‘ I guess you would need to contact the airline re constant refrigeration.

All the best!




Hi Penelope-Mary

Thank you for your reply. My in laws are around Macquarie Bank. Thanks for the reassurance about the weather. I won't worry too much. That's a good tip about the synthetic fibres,I'll keep that in mind for clothes planning.


1 like

Hello Jennifer

I live in the US, and travel to Oz twice a year as my daughter lives there, married to an Aussie. Absolutely request and use airport assistance even if you are having a good day.

As for your refrigerator medication, I too have needed to travel with biologics such as pre filled injections and Viles of methotrexate which were best kept refrigerated so that they kept a constant temperature. The way I solved that was to buy a medical pack that is sold for insulin. It is made up of a solid pack that you freeze and your medication must fit into it. This I used for my open viles and the others placed in another

Once on board I asked for ice and kept it cooler, and they even offered to take it up to first class refrigerator. It stayed there whole flight and now I ask and have never been denied. All flights have been very accommodating.

My advice would be to go to the airport in person in advance, even months, and talk to someone from the airline you plane to fly with and ask for process of taking refrigeration medication. I’m sure they want to help.

Oh, and most importantly, you must have letter from every doctor who has prescribed all medications as well as prescriptions for syringe and needles as not all countries are over the counter.

Hope this helps...and go and have a good time!!

Good luck


Hi zzcat

Oh that's great, it's so nice to hear that the airlines are helpful with refrigeration. I have a travel pack for local holidays, but it's just a cheap thing off Amazon really meant for packed lunches, it definitely won't be any use for a long journey. Thank you for the tip about doctor's letters, I will arrange that. You never know when a trip might get extended or your medication damaged.

I must say all the advice on here has really helped me feel positive about the trip. I had kind of got myself into a rut of thinking about all the things I can't do and long distance travel was in that basket, but you have all made me feel much more positive and "Can do " about it


1 like

Hi there. I totally understand. I was gloomy thinking I would never spend time with my granddaughter, but figured I just had to give it a try. I have gotten into some issues and had to find a team of doctors over there, so do take a copy of as much of your medical records as you can. I carry a scanned copy as well as a paper copy with me. I wear a medical bracelet on the flight over and take it off once I arrive.

The medical records show the doctors there what exactly you have and give them a starting point. Also, rheumatologists are in short supply there so look for one as soon as you arrive and tell whoever you are traveling with that is who you want them to call if you run into trouble.

I don't mean to be a downer but you will feel more comfortable knowing you are covered.

Happy travels!



Hi Susan

I will follow your advice and get prepared for any eventuality. Currently my condition is well controlled, but reading these boards has made me realise things can change at very short notice for any of us. Particularly if we've put our bodies under the stress of a long journey and change in environment.

Thanks again



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