Surgery isn’t fun for anyone – and if you already made travel plans for a dream vacation in Europe, it could put a damper on your good time. The good news is that flying after surgery is still in the cards, depending on your medical situation.
You may even be attempting to get home post-op if you went abroad for your operation. According to one study, 1.4 million Americans traveled abroad for elective surgery in 2017 – up from 750,000 in 2007.
Regardless of your reasons for traveling around Europe after surgery, there are ways to do so safely and with little pain.
Resources for Post-Op Travel
Compared to the U.S., European nations have a different perspective on accessibility. Only 15 countries have mandatory accessibility standards, while 13 have partial or no set means – this can make travel difficult for some people that require a wheelchair or safe walkways.
For example, Spain prevents accessibility upgrades at historical buildings. Meanwhile, Cyprus will only implement accessibility if the project is deemed feasible. Look up the accessibility rules where you plan to visit to determine how easy it will be to get around after surgery.
Before embarking on your European adventure, you should be aware of available post-op resources. Medical insurance should be a priority – unforeseen medical scenarios could be costly abroad, so it’s best to prepare yourself for all the possibilities and uncertainties.
Research hospitals at your destination to see what international medical insurance plans they accept. Some might only cover emergency visits, not evaluations or return travel to your native country.
Additionally, if you don’t have a friend or relative traveling with you, you should know you can hire a travel nurse through various organizations to accompany you. Whether you need assistance traveling after surgery by car or flying between locations, travel nurses will tag along and ensure continuous recovery and care.
5 Tips for Traveling After Surgery
Flying after surgery or sitting in the car is a step in the right direction – you must be on the mend before heading toward your next destination. However, you’ll still need to navigate travel carefully. Here are five tips for traveling around Europe after surgery.
1. Get a Provider’s Permission
Before you go anywhere, your surgeon should clear you for travel. Ask your provider when you can return home or travel around Europe following your procedure. In the meantime, give yourself a few more days for recovery. You don’t want to over-exert yourself.
Ask your provider what you must bring regarding supplies and medications and ensure you have all prescriptions filled beforehand. It’s also a good idea to determine whether you’ll require a wheelchair or similar equipment. That way you’ll be able to make proper rental arrangements or acquire whatever you need in advance.
2. Plan Ahead
Planning is essential to flying after surgery. Even if you’re traveling after surgery by car, you’ll want everything in place – from packed suitcases to itineraries and arrangements – before you go.
Book your hotel and account for requests like being close to the elevator or the parking lot. Aggregate websites are probably not the best idea since the cheapest rooms are often the worst or least accessible.
First-class seating on flights is also preferred. Although you’ll spend more money on airline tickets, you’ll also have more room to get comfortable during an hours-long trip and be the first passenger on and off the plane.
3. Pack Correctly
As for clothing, pack comfortable, loose-fitting items that are easy to slip on and off. Shirts with zippers or buttons down the front are best, while elastic waistbands make putting pants on and off a cinch.
Additionally, you’ll want to consider slip-on shoes with rubber soles to prevent sliding or falling. It’ll also make it easier to remove your shoes for the airport screening.
You should also keep your post-op medications with you in a Ziploc bag. You’ll want to be able to take the proper dosages of pain relievers and antibiotics during your trip to alleviate discomfort.
4. Utilize Airport Resources
Aside from first-class seating, post-op patients can benefit from helpful airport resources. For instance, you can arrange to have a wheelchair ready by calling your airline. Airline assistants will push your wheelchair throughout the airport, from ticketing to the gate to the airplane.
You should also be aware that you can request a seated TSA screening. A seated screening might be best for those who’ve had major surgery and cannot stand or walk following their procedure. TSA agents will use a wand to give you security clearance while in the wheelchair.
You may also present a TSA notification card to inform the agent of your condition discreetly. Your doctor may also give you a similar card to exempt you from traditional screenings and qualify you for other post-surgery airport resources.
When booking a rental car, ask for a larger vehicle with comfortable seats that’s easy to get into.
5. Know Your Limits
Sitting or lying in bed for too long can induce blood clots and pulmonary embolisms – it’ll also make your muscles weak and cause digestive issues. As such, providers will warn patients to move around after a procedure. However, it’s crucial to know your limitations.
Whether traveling around Europe for fun or trying to get home after surgery abroad, you don’t want to do too much before your body can handle it. Although essential for recovery, excessive activity may risk injury or prevent the wound from healing.
Always pay close attention to your body. For instance, if you’re traveling after surgery by car, sitting for too long could cause your body to cramp. Yet, lifting luggage over 10 pounds or touring one of the magnificent European castles could be over-taxing and cause significant pain.
Travel Safely Around Europe After Surgery
Traveling around Europe after surgery is possible. If you hope to do some sightseeing post-op, understand the country’s ease of accessibility and plan your trip well in advance. While your procedure may present an opportunity to explore another place, it’s essential that you listen to your surgeon first.