As you all know I’m traveling to Southeast Asia for 3 months in February, if you don’t know this have you been living under a rock?!
Anyway, I wanted to write a post about my top tips for pre-travel prep whilst living with Bipolar.
Over the past few months I have had a nightmare and I would like to help you avoid this. I have searched high and low for blogs to help but have come to nothing. So, that brings me to my list of top tips!
If you’re still seeing a psychiatrist make sure, I mean make sure here, that you have the go ahead. Do not book that flight until you have the go ahead to go on a long trip. Remember you will be going months without seeing your psychiatric team, if your psychiatrist doesn’t think you should go, you probably shouldn’t. Just you shouldn’t, trust me. Please.
Once you have the go ahead, make sure you have a steady go with your medication. I’ll let you into a little secret, I came off my medication in October 2018 and it seriously harmed my chances of travelling. You never know how coming off of medication will affect you, I’m simply suggesting that maybe doing it in another country isn’t the best time to find out. I was in Rome when I did this and I regret it massively. So simply make sure you’re happy on your medication and aren’t planning on switching or coming off of it.
Have your vaccinations up to 2/3 months before you go. You never know how you are going to react to them and you need to get them into your system before you travel! If you are in the UK a good place to check what you’ll need is on the NHS website https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/travel-vaccinations/jabs/ As well as this just call and make an appointment at your doctors to see a nurse. They will go through everything with you and give everything to you then and there, unless you need to have a double dose of something, in that case… well good luck!
Chose your flight wisely. If you have Bipolar you will know that our sleep is one of the most important things to us. So when flying long haul, over different time zones make sure you’ll have time to sleep on the flight and that the time difference won’t screw your sleep pattern and the time you take your medication.
For instance, I’m flying into Bangkok, I leave London at 20:15 Sunday evening. This will allow me to take my medication at a normal time on the Sunday (at roughly 21:00), I have a connection flight which will mean I can sleep on the first flight and then stay awake for the second flight. I land in Bangkok at 17:25 Monday afternoon which will mean I’ll be slightly tired and ready to go to bed at a normal time of 21:00/22:00 which will also be the same time I take my medication at home – Ta-da!
Make sure you can take your medication to the country you are travelling to! This is probably the most important, especially if you are going to Southeast Asia. Some Southeast Asian countries are very strict when it comes to certain drugs including Thailand and Philippines which carry the death penalty.
I have seriously struggled with this one, my doctor told me to do my own research – helpful. That was until I found the nicest person on a Facebook group who sent me this link http://permitfortraveler.fda.moph.go.th/CheckTheDrug?fbclid=IwAR3EjcscO8ZrlVmQB0UWY3bwJzF2REbnhcy_KWY59viCS59XZ12fBwEeHL4
(Big up Greg!) This website allows you to search for any drug in Thailand. For other countries I recommend that you email embassies in your own countries, ask around and ask your psychiatrist, this is their job after all! If you get stuck on this one please feel free to email me!
Get enough medication to last you. This will require speaking to your psychiatrist. I thought you had to speak to your doctor, but if you are still seeing your psychiatrist then it’s your psychiatrist who has to give the OK for your doctor to approve the prescription. I’ve actually left this very late, I recommend you have this discussion with your psychiatrist at least three months before you fly out because there may be some go between, between your doctor and psychiatrist.
Get a doctors note. This goes with number 6. When crossing boarders you will need a doctors note in some countries to prove that you have your drug for medical reasons and not for selling, this is because you will have a big bulk.
Did you hear about the woman who went to Egypt and was carrying her boyfriends medication which was illegal in that country WITHOUT a doctors note. She’s currently waiting to hear her jail sentence and looking for appeals which I believe she keeps losing.
JUST GET ONE. Please.
Join Facebook groups. This is an easy way to get in contact with other people who are doing the exact same as you. You’ll get inspired with new ideas and new places to go. It will also help you also meet new people and if you need any advise then simply comment in the group and someone will get back to you! If you are travelling to Southeast Asia I highly recommend the below groups. They have been super helpful and the people are inspiring me everyday.
- South East Asia Backpacking
- South East Asia Backpacker Community
Get ready for the journey of a life time. This trip is going to be the best time of your life, if it’s for months, if it’s for a week or even if it’s for a weekend. Don’t panic, just look forward to it and love every minute of it.
I hope all of the above helps you to be more efficient with your preparation for your trip. It can be seriously confusing figuring out what you need to do before you travel with an illness, so I hope this has helped. Luckily enough I have now traveled with my Bipolar a few times and am finally learning the ropes with does and don’ts.