Today I’ll share some final tips and tricks we learned about travelling with a medically complex kiddo. My previous post covered preparing for the trip, and today we’ll tackle packing.
As promised, there are free printables! In fact, most of the information is in the printables below including a two-page packing list and accompanying packing map to quickly locate all of your belongings. Here are a few additional tips on the topic:
- Consider clothing choices that are impacted by medical needs when planning outfits. In June’s case, we need to use pajamas with feet at night in order to keep the pulse-ox probe securely in place (since June can’t pull it off). Other considerations may be G-tube access or working with layers of warm clothing when using medical equipment or seating.
- When packing, run through possible emergency scenarios that could occur on the plane or in the airport waiting areas before and after the flight. Be sure that everything you would need in those situations is in a carry-on bag rather than a checked one.
- Take a moment to picture yourself physically transporting all of your luggage. Where does it fit during your travel to/from the airport? Who is carrying what at the airport, and who is carrying/herding children? If needed, ask the airline for suggestions such as a luggage cart, motorized escort, or the ability to check your stroller at the gate.
- Secondly, picture yourself storing all of your carry-ons during the plane ride. The “free” medically necessary carry-ons in addition to everyone’s allotment adds up to a lot of bags. How many items need to be accessible during take-off and landing (these will need to be stored under the seats in front of you)? Who in your party will store these items and use them if necessary?
- Plan your boarding and exiting strategy. Passengers with special medical needs can usually board first, but this may be risky health-wise if the fancy germ-fighting cabin air filters are not in use during boarding. See this quote from the Wall Street Journal:“…..[S]tudies have shown that high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters on most jets today can capture 99.97% of bacterial and virus-carrying particles. That said, when air circulation is shut down, which sometimes happens during long waits on the ground or for short periods when passengers are boarding or exiting, infections can spread like wildfire.”Because June’s trach makes her especially susceptible to respiratory illness, we opted to board last instead. However, this proved problematic because on both flights, all of the overhead space was taken by the time we boarded. The flight attendants were already enforcing mandatory luggage checking for remaining bags at that time, so some additional passengers had their luggage checked at the gate in order to make room for our medically necessary gear that didn’t fit under the seats.
And now the printables! They are available as individual JPEGs here or as a 3 page PDF document. I am certain I left off obvious things. If you notice something that could be changed, don’t hesitate to leave a comment or send me a note. I hope these are helpful to other families who are travelling with a medically complex child or family member. The system is applicable to general travel, too, so if your needs are more routine, check out just Page 2 and the Packing Map.
Packing List Page 1
Packing List Page 2
Or download all three pages as a PDF file: Packing List and Map