Traveling and taking vacations is often a source of great excitement but can bring anxiety and concerns for people with epilepsy. In most cases people with epilepsy can still travel, however certain considerations and precautions should be in place. One should consider the type, frequency, and triggers for their seizures prior to planning travel and also consider the location of their destination. Exotic locations with poor access to medical care are likely not ideal for those with active epilepsy.
One of the most important considerations in traveling with epilepsy involves proper medication management. It is imperative that medications continue to be taken regularly while traveling. An adequate supply of medication should be taken and kept in a carry on bag or on the person themselves, in the event of losing checked baggage. Packing extra supply of medication is also advised in case of unplanned delays. As needed rescue medications should also packed with easy access.
People with seizures should also keep in mind their triggers for seizures when traveling. Alcohol, stress, and sleep deprivation are common triggers for seizures that are often encountered when traveling. Extra time for rest to accommodate for changes in time zones or prolonged travel should be considered to avoid risking a seizure due to sleep deprivation.
While traveling by air poses no additional risk to having a seizure, it should be noted that minimal medical help is available during a flight and people with uncontrolled seizures should likely not travel by airplane. It may be helpful to travel with a companion for those with more mild seizures as they are often experienced with signs of seizures and will know better how to react in the event of a seizure.
As with any concern regarding epilepsy, discussing your specific situation with your epilepsy care provider is often ideal. Many providers can assist in formulating a “seizure action plan” that outlines steps to take in the event of a seizure. This plan outlines when to seek medical attention and when to use seizure rescue medications in the event of seizure clusters or prolonged seizures. Your provider can also direct you on a plan to have in the event of missing a dosage or adjusting the timing of your medication if you are traveling across multiple time zones.