Taking Smart Risks: Travelling Against Medical Advice

THIS GIRL IS HEADED TO ARUBA…… against her doctors advice…..  

So I’m going to be completely honest. Just a few months ago I was advised by one of my specialists that it might be best for me to not travel outside of the country for awhile. And well this happens to be one of my favourite doctors and I do really respect my doctors opinions, I also have to make the decisions and do the things that are ultimately best for me.

Travelling is one of those things. 

Now the thing is, although it’s sometimes hard to admit, the currently reality of living with Mitochondrial disease means that its not likely that I will improve too much over the next several years. More likely my health may decline further. And so well I do understand that by travelling I might be taking a risk I want to ensure I do as much as possible well I am still able. If I get better in the future and have the opportunity to revisit some destinations in better health? Well that’s great, but it doesn’t mean that travelling with a chronic illness isn’t worthwhile too. 

For me its too much of a risk that if and when I get sicker, I will look back on my life and have regrets. I have always dreamed of travelling and caught the bug at a young age. I refuse to give up on that dream just because my body doesn’t want to cooperate. 

Firstly, obviously I didn’t make the decision to travel against medical advice lightly first I took into consideration my doctors concerns and exactly why they felt that I should be travelling.  There are certainly some doctors recommendations you probably shouldn’t ignore, and its important you understand your own personal conditions and what risks you might personally face before you decide to leave the country. For me the main reason my doctor advised I not travel is the increased risk of contracting additional illnesses, and my bodies ability to deal with the additional stress of illness. Given my current state it would be difficult for my body to deal with the stress of illness and getting sick could cause further decline and potentially take a long time to recover from. 

The main risks I face come from illness caused by exposure on the plane or during travel, as well as food borne and insect borne illness. I understand this risk and how it might be elevated by travel, but these are risks I also face to some degree at home in Canada (on the days I choose to leave house). As well these aren’t risks that will diminish over time for me, the risk of illness and its impacts will always be something I have to take into consideration. My illness has already taken a lot away from me and as long as I am able I won’t let travel be one of those things. 

With all that being said here are few things that helped us choose a destination that made us feel comfortable even with my rare diseases! 



Choosing the destination is one of the most exciting parts of the trip but if you have a chronic illness it’s also one of the most important. When I choose somewhere to travel I take into consideration a few things: distance and travel time, climate, and health care. 

At this point in my health journey I tend to pick locations that aren’t too far from home, and would be easy enough to get me back home in case of an emergency. Living in Canada this means that I tend to go for destinations in North, Central, and South America, and the Caribbean. These are places that I feel comfortable enough that someone could quickly get to me or I could get home easily enough. This trip I am travelling with my Mom, which puts me a bit more at ease. 

I also take into consideration flight times and layovers. For me flying is quite rough on my body, and I prefer to have no layovers because they seem to be even harder on me than the actual flying. If a layover is required we usually aim to choose a longer layover that allows us time to get a hotel room for me to sleep and rest. 

As for choosing a country for climate, this is pretty dependant on your condition. For me, I react badly in humid weather. I will end up in painful head to toe blisters if I venture into humid weather. So for this trip we choose Aruba because unlike many islands in the Caribbean it has a very arid, dry climate. It’s still hot, but it’s a hot I can tolerate. It’s also outside the hurricane belt so that’s an added bonus. 

Finally I also make sure that wherever I am travelling too has good health care options in case I were to need care. With the help of my mom, we thoroughly research the options and make sure it would be something we would be comfortable with if I needed care. Part of this is also making sure you have good travel insurance, and a lot of it, that will cover even pre-existing conditions. 


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