American Association Of Kidney Patients RENALIFE Magazine
By Barbara Wallace, Renal Dialysis Nurse,
and Deborah Pelaez, AAKP Marketing and Communications Manager
At AAKP, we know how important quality of life is for kidney patients, including those on dialysis. Planning a vacation away from home can seem like a daunting task.
This article was written to help those who are considering not just a vacation, but an International vacation while on dialysis. AAKP interviewed international dialysis nurse, Barbara Wallace, co-owner of Irish Holiday Dialysis, to learn about important things to consider when planning a trip abroad including a Top 10 List, which you will find highlighted below.
Choosing a Vacation Destination
So, you have decided to plan an International vacation while on dialysis. How will you decide where to go?
Maybe you’ve always dreamed about traveling somewhere like Paris or Ireland, but before you book that trip there are many things to consider.
First, Barbara suggests choosing a vacation destination in a country with a reputation for high quality healthcare and with clinics that have similar high standards to your own center. This will ease your mind and make many of the other travel decisions easier.
Additionally, she encourages patients to talk to their clinic’s social worker or patient concierge to ask for help when planning as well. You don’t have to plan alone, there are many people and resources to help you. Your social worker may have additional resources and services for you, but Barbara recommends these websites when investigating International travel destinations with dialysis clinics:
http://www.booknowmed.com– An online booking engine for international travel dialysis, allowing users to check availability, cost and book dialysis in real time. It is non-promotional and free of charge for the patient.
http://www.traveldialysisreview.com– This website is run by a group of dialysis patients who like to travel internationally. It is a very honest website that shares good and bad reviews. This website also offers a travel blog.
http://www.globaldialysis.com– A long established website for dialysis and travel with a database of thousands of international clinics and lots of practical travel advise.
If this is your first international vacation while on dialysis, you may also want to choose a country where there is no language barrier. Furthermore, Barbara suggests choosing a country with established tourism links with the U.S. She says that this makes planning much easier, such as finding direct flights, travel reviews and more.
Planning for your Trip – Important Information
Allow time for the clinic you choose internationally to receive all your medical information. This could take about one month. Your physician will need to deem you fit to travel. Most international clinics will require a letter of consent, as well as all medical records in advance.
All records should be sent electronically and securely between your home clinic and holiday clinic well in advance. You will not usually need to bring any medical records with you when travelling – care should be taken with your personal data. Diabetics should bring blood sugar records.
Dialysis Treatment Internationally – What to Expect
Dialysis patients get to see a side of a country that few people get to see – the medical side.
The aim at any clinic is to give you the exact same treatment as you would at home. The dialysis machine may be a different model, but it can be programmed to your specific prescription.
Any slight difference there may be will be identified in the planning stage. You should travel in confidence, with no worries about safety, and trusting you will get the same type of treatment.
Barbara’s Top 10 Checklist to Planning International Vacation for a
- Start planning early! Decide on specific date for your trip but be prepared to be flexible within those dates.
- Do not book any other parts of your trip until you have secured your dialysis appointment(s) schedule.
- Make sure you understand the acceptance criteria for the clinic you are going to. Be aware that if your medical situation changes in any way, you will need to notify the clinic and make sure you can still be accepted.
- If on the Kidney Transplant Waitlist – consider that you will be suspended from the list temporarily while out of the country.
- Make sure you bring enough medication (prescriptions) to cover your entire trip. Medication should always be carried with you in your hand baggage.
- Look into your insurance – health and travel. Does your health insurance cover you internationally? You may need to apply for international health insurance, so if you become unwell and you need further medical attention, you would be covered. Likewise, you may want to purchase travel insurance for your trip in the event of a cancellation due to health or other factors.
- Think about your food and drink challenges. When you go abroad you will experience different food and drink. It is a good idea to speak to your renal dietitian before traveling to get advice on how to eat kidney-friendly while still enjoying the international fare!
- Plan your trip around your clinic. Get specific locations of destinations you wish to visit – use Google maps to see exactly how far the travel is from your accommodation.
- Consider your travel companions – how will your dialysis days impact others? Can you travel independently for your treatment or do you need a companion to accompany you?
- Be in the best physical health possible before travel – long distance travel can be very demanding on your energy levels!
After planning your trip in confidence using these tips and pointers, we wish you safe travels and remember to enjoy what a holiday is all about – enjoy the culture, the people, the country you are going to and enjoy the ones you are with.
Barbara Wallace is currently a Nurse manager and co-founder of Irish Holiday Dialysis. Barbara qualified as a renal dialysis nurse in London in 1998 and has worked hands-on at the frontline of patient care. She has a wide range of experience in public, private and commercial healthcare settings and has worked in many different countries.A position as Clinical Nurse Specialist with a major dialysis equipment manufacturer saw her train both home patients and nurses to use dialysis equipment. She has a wealth of experience and knowledge in all aspects of this specialized field of nursing. In 2017 she co founded the first-ever dedicated holiday dialysis clinic in her home country of Ireland after having identified the lack of this essential service for international holidaymakers and seeing the many positive benefits that travel and holidays can have on them.