Holiday insurance advice? and any other tips for going abroad??

Hello again,

Travelling for the first time since being diagnosed and I'm wondering what I should be considering, my RA is very good at the moment but scared of;

Getting bitten

Having a flare

Catching something on the plane

Standing for long periods in airport


Flying with RA

having an anxiety attack (only started since diagnosis and is my biggest worry)

Dealing with all this and an 18month year old!

Have I missed anything??

oh my gosh, what on earth am I doing!!!lol

Any suggestions would be very welcome :)

(ps, we're of to Portugal)

22 Replies

First off, people in Portugal have RA too, so if there is a problem you'll be able to get help. I reckon planning is the key to worry free holiday. Get your E111 or whatever they're called now, get some insurance (I use Saga but I doubt you're old enough), pack a decent first aid kit, plus your prescriptions, and the phone number of your GP. If need be, use the disabled passengers service and get a wheelchair booked for the airport. Then big floppy hat, lots of small toys to entertain a small person and have a fab time. Once you've done it once you'll wonder why you were worried. Polly


Hi hel , great advice from polly ,but also take a little ball for under your foot and every so often roll it with your foot thus keeping ur legs and feet moving by doing this you lower the risk of getting thrombosis. Also try to relax or things will go wrong just enjoy yourselves and tell us about it when you return xxx


Will do this for sure, I have horrid varicose veins which throbe when flying, thanks for the tip :)


Hi Polly, hope your good, Just googled the E111, never knew such a thing existed but am on the case now! Had some fantastic advice reading through all the replies and plan to use it all :)


I was just like you when I first got diagnosed with RA. Thinking of all the things that could happen and worrying about what I would do if X Y or Z happened. But up to now (touch wood), nothing major as happened. I did have a problem last time, a long story but I had a raised liver function test just before I was going to Spain for a month. Off all of my drugs, told just to take paracetamol. Asked for a prescription of oral steroids which I ended up having to take, but still did not spoil going away. My youngest daughter had moved to Spain (with my two grandchildren) a few months before I was diagnosed. So I have made many flights over there since, she now lives in Gibraltar which I must admit is a bit more comforting for me because they obviously speak English so I wouldn't have any language barrier if things did go wrong.

I've often seen people sitting near queue's at check in and security while others in their party are queuing, if there aren't any seats just ask, if you take some sort of hospital letter, appointment letter with you for proof of your illness (because we don't look sick you know), I am sure under the disability act they could not refuse you a chair. I myself would not want to be wheeled about in a wheelchair. If it's Easyjet that you are flying with they do after priority boarding let people with children under five board before the mad scrum of finding a seat.

I love Portugal we've been there many times and If it wasn't for the fact of daughter moving it would be my number 1 holiday destination. Have a wonderful holiday and do try to stop worrying about the ''what if'' problems that probably won't happen.

If you do have any problems and need help you must show them your EHIC card before you have any treatment, otherwise you may end up with a bill. I have spoken to someone on the helpline regarding the EHIC card and have been told that in Spain at the moment even if you produce your card they are still making some people pay. Was told that you would get a refund once back in the UK but at the moment it is taking about 3 - 4 months. I am sure that this is due to the economic crisis in Spain at the moment.

When we took our grandson on a flight (to Portugal), we wrapped up little toys for him to open on the plane to play with, also don't forget to take a baby bottle to put something to drink in for taking off and landing, sucking helps stop ears from huriting.

Here's a couple of links that might help.



Great website, looking into EHIC card, thanks, also love the thought of wrapping up her little toys, have been collecting bits and bobs but will wrap them up now, thanks!

I think I will sit as the rest of family queue I think, as I said I'm pretty good RA wise, if I could just stop worrying.

and the bottle tip, I'd heard of that one but forgot all about it :) and I also forgot easyjet (yes we're flying with them) let families with young children on first.

Good to hear you love Portugal, it's our first time!

Thanks again Paula


Are you going to the Algarve? My husband is the sort of person that when he's been somewhere he would say when planning our next holiday............been there, seen it, don't want to go back. That is until we went to the Algarve. Was even thinking of buying something over there after we retired to live there, that's how much we liked it. Daughter moving away stopped any dreams of that because if we did move anywhere it would be southern Spain, but now because of RA I need the NHS (early retirement I'm talking about here so don't qualify for free Spanish health care).

Just a few tips about Easyjet.........We normally fly from Liverpool, have noticed that when you are at the gate, just before boarding they have on several occasions made people who's hand luggage looks large put it in the cage, if it's too big at this point you have to pay for it to go into the hold. I think that this is now down to online check in and people trying to take oversize hand luggage on the plane It was comical on one occasion, man got stopped, pushed and pushed his bag into the cradle, announced ''It fits''........trouble was, he couldn't get it out. Nobody else was stopped, don't know what happened to him.

We once flew out of Liverpool with granddaughter who at the time was 5, we were placed in the 5 and under bit, priority boarders went first,then us and people with mobility problems next (do need to find out how you get into that category now). We were put on the same bus as the rest of the boarders, told to move to the front of the bus because they would only open the front doors of the bus when at plane , so don't sit at the back of the bus incase this happens.

At Gibraltar they do bus people out in different buses, but they only have one flight leaving at any given time, so I suppose they have a bus or two spare. Have read somewhere on Easyjet's web site, that even if you have paid for priority boarding you are still not guaranteed to be first on the plane.




I was diagnosed 3.5 years ago in the UK but then returned to Dubai where I live at the moment. Since then I have been to India, Qatar, Jordan, China, Bahrain, USA, Thailand and Hong Kong as well as Europe and of course home too.

My advice for travelling is this:

1. Contact the airline and tell them if you have difficulties walking. I use a walking stick for example, so they will arrange for a wheelchair and can seat you near the door of the plane.

2. Make sure your insurance has a medical evacuation facility although in Portugal I wouldn't imagine you'd need it. Their medical facilities are probably very good.

3. Make a medical kit with all your medicines in case of flare up. I suffer from repeated bouts of bronchitis so always travel with augmentin antibiotics for example. Also I travel with Ciprobay for tummy upsets. Again, this might not be an issue in Portugal. I always take a special pillow with me too because of my neck problems and those heat pads that warm up automatically.

4. Relax and have a great holiday!

I hope you have a wonderful time. Really you have nothing to worry about. The airlines are usually super helpful. Do go for the wheelchair option if you're worried about hips, knees and ankles. It's often a long walk in the airport and will save your joints for relaxing on the beach.

Sarah x


Hi sarah

thanks for such good advice. I was diagnosed late last August. Whilst we have booked a holiday this year, I could not face going abroad as i was not stable enough and was afraid to travel abroad. We had planned to visit american my penpal and now we have booked to go to devon this august - a sort of test.

Hopefully we may make america next yr!

cheets Scix


That'll be great Sci! would love to go to America, would love to go to Devon as well though :)


Thanks Sarah, I've had so much great advice!

Great idea about having some anti-biotice on hand, I will ask GP about that as I have a tendancy now to get uti's and infected bites. That'll be a big help knowing I have something just in case

Thanks Sarah :)


One more thing. I had panic attacks after my diagnosis and lost the plot for a while. I can remember having panic attacks when the plane was taking off and landing. I saw a therapist for a year which really helped and she gave me some exercises to do which I can give you if you're interested. Now I find my iPod helps and I listen to audiobooks to help with anxiety. Breathing helps too.

It is all awful isn't it? Let me know if you want the exercises.

Sarah x


This is my biggest fear, I'll PM you later if thats okay, little one is requiring my attention :) x


I'm an ex Trolley Dolly so first off tell your airline you need a wheelchair (if you can't walk 100yds it's well worth it as you get whisked thru first), then confirm they get the message 24hrs before you fly...same coming back. Make sure your husband knows he will have your 18month old on HIS lap all the way!!

Buy a good mozzie repellent and use it - most passengers I remember got bitten because they bought the stuff but forgot to use it!If you have a flare make sure you have all the meds you use at home with you..then relax. I flew for all over the world for 25 years and never caught anything on the plane- so don't worry about that. The wheelchair should solve the standing for long periods and air conditioning is readily available in Portugal - good excuse to keep taking light refreshment in a cool bar! I have just returned from holiday in Florida - 10 hr flights both ways, and apart from slight swelling in my ankles all is well - do try to walk about a bit but that will be difficult on such a short flight - so wiggle your feet about and drink plenty of water. You are going on holiday so look forward to it and think how your 18 month old will love paddling in the sea and being spoiled by the locals who love children. Happy Holidays and stop worrying - I find stress is the worst thing for my RA - so I just go with the flow these days....KF


Wow, what a wonderful career and I'm very jealous! and while I'm at it, jealous of the Florida holiday!!!haha

Great advice though, thankyou, I never thought of ringing airline so thats worth doing.

Can't wait to be paddling in the sea and bobbling in the waves :) yes, your right I need to stop stressing and enjoy...

oooh and I'll go through a broker for insurance.

Thanks Kathy


Hi Wiliby....I always seem to be warning people, but even if you don't use it, DO get the E111 card.Some Insurance Companies will not pay out if you make a claim & you don't have one.I'm on crutches at moment having had an operation on my foot, so I'm grounded until September - then it's off to Italy to attack the shoe shops- can't wait!!


Forgot the travel insurance question - RA is covered on most policies, but I now go thru a broker for an annual policy. I have many health probs including cancer 5 years ago and a broker can really cut thru the red tape and get a good value policy that covers all your needs at a fair price.


Hi wiliby

I am sure you will be fine, like you I panicked when hubby mentioned he still planned for us to go onliday, we where suppose to book for America. I too was scared and in the end we booked for devon in march I think, mainly due to my relunctance to travel abroad.

You've go so much advice on here, I think if you plan for every eventuality, you will be fine, it's just its a daunting prospect.

So stop worry and get excited.

Hope you all have a good time

Sci x


sorry Sci, replied to you above also!

change of subject (sorry) but weren't you being considered for anti-tnf or just started? just wondering how thats going but if I'm wrong just tell me to shut up!! :)


Hi Wiliby - I went abroad this time last year for the first time since RA and was just as concerned, especially since I was (yet again!) suffering low white blood counts just before, so was concerned I was going to catch everythying going! Found out that my annual travel insurance policy doesn't cover RA, but got the E111 equivalent card so felt a bit better with that!

Biggest concern was that in the days before we were due to fly one of those icelandic volcanoes erupted, so it was touch and go as to whether our plane would leave or not! Was then worried about if it continued erupting and would prevent us from returning! So I guess one other tip is to make sure you take lots of extra meds in case of any delays! would be awful to be there, get delayed and run out of meds!

Besides that our holiday was great and like others wondered what I had worried about when it was over! Have a great time!


Hi Heather, yes, of course the low wcc!!! arghhh down again this week and have to stop mtx until is improves, I can 'feel' it's still low :(

I'm going to bathe myself in anti-bacterial liquid before stepping onto the plane!!

Bloomin Volcanoe!

Thanks Heather


Hi heatherp............On the whole you don't need to worry about running out of meds as long as you take the copy part of your NHS prescition with you. I ran out of meds in South Africa and the Pharmacist checked with a local doctor and then let me have the meds - and it was cheaper than here!! But probably in USA it would be more difficult. As I said yesterday try to buy your Travel Insurance thru a broker who will ask you all the right questions to get a policy that is suitable for you, rather than a travel agent - who just wants to sell you a policy.


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