Person holding a map

Use this list of questions to help you assess your risks and needs. Will your seizures affect where you want to go and how to get there? Then talk to your doctor for his or her recommendations and guidance. You’ll also want to schedule an appointment with the doctor or nurse to get prescriptions or medical forms updated before traveling.

Where are you going and how long will you be there?

If you’re traveling for work, you may not have a choice of where to go. Yet if you are planning a vacation, think about where you are going in relation to your seizures. Is it a realistic place to visit, or will you be limited by your seizures once you arrive? If you can’t drive, consider a resort where you won’t need to leave the vacation spot or make sure that other transportation is readily available. If you’ll need to travel around once you arrive at your hotel, do your homework on accessible forms of transportation.

Are you traveling alone or with other people?

If you (or your loved one) have frequent seizures, or seizures in which injury may occur, travel with someone who knows about your seizures and what to do if problems arise. If you must travel alone, this may affect where you are going, how to get there, and types of precautions you may need to take.

What types of seizures do you have and how often do they occur?

People with seizures that do not affect their awareness or consciousness will have different concerns than people who have tonic-clonic or focal impaired awareness (previously known as complex partial) seizures. People who may be confused or need to walk around during or after a seizure may have difficulty if this type of seizure occurs on an airplane. Moving around is usually restricted on a plane and usually can't be done safely.

If you tend to have clusters of seizures or long seizures, think carefully about plans that call for lengthy travel times and how you can get help if seizures occur. Traveling by airplane offers limited in-flight medical help and may not be a safe idea for people with these risks. Consider how likely you are to have seizures while traveling and plan ahead using your Seizure Action Plan.

Have you updated or created a Seizure Action Plan?

Seizure Action Plans (also called seizure response plans) are forms that you can personalize about what to do if you or a loved one has a seizure. Carry this form with you all the time and make sure key family members or friends have one. Take it with you when traveling so others will know what to do when you have a seizure. On Seizure Action Plans, include the latest information about:

  • Your type of seizures and what they look like
  • Any triggers
  • Medicines you take daily
  • Medicines or device used as a rescue therapy. A rescue therapy can be used to help stop cluster seizures or seizures that are different from your typical ones. Your healthcare provider may recommend using it after a certain length of time or in other special circumstances. Make sure you list how and when to use the rescue therapies on this plan
  • What to do when you have a seizure
  • When emergency help may be needed

Download a fillable Seizure Action Plan

Learn how to make a Seizure Action Plan

What triggers your seizures?

Traveling can be stressful and lead to frequent disruptions in sleep schedules, changes in eating habits, or changes medication times. Think carefully about your seizure triggers and how to manage these or prevent them from occurring in the first place!

  • Make sure you plan time to rest, rather than being on the go all the time. This may be especially important for families with young children.
  • If you or your child are photosensitive, be careful when visiting amusement parks, particularly at night – there can be lots of flashing lights and excessive stimuli that can trigger seizures.
  • If you are outdoors a lot or just have a busy schedule, make sure you drink and eat regularly.

What are your safety concerns?

Think about your mode of transportation as well as your destination in regards to safety. Then sit down with your doctor, nurse and family to plan how to prevent injuries and make sure the trip is fun and safe! People with seizures should be able to participate in most activities. However, activities that involve significant safety risks, such as climbing high places, flying, and parachuting, are not recommended and can pose significant safety risks. Other activities might be possible with practical safety precautions and having a buddy. This is especially important for water sports and swimming. Find more information on staying safe.

Can you drive?

If you can’t drive, then ideally you’ll be traveling with others. Talk to your doctor, nurse and family about managing seizures on other forms of transportation and if you can do this safely.

If you are legally able to drive, plan plenty of time for breaks, don’t forget your medicine, and don’t try to push it when you are tired! Put safety first, even if your trip will take longer than anticipated. Read about the different types of travel to see what is best for you.

What are the health care resources at your destination?

Think about where you are going in relation to what you’ll need.If you are traveling to a resort or city, you’ll probably be able to find a pharmacy, doctor or hospital easily. However, if you are traveling to rural or remote areas, you may not have access to these resources at all or may need to travel just to find a doctor. This may not be wise for people with frequent seizures or who are likely to run into emergency situations. For others, making sure you have adequate supplies of medicines and someone with you may be all that you need.

Also make sure you check out your medical insurance coverage before you travel. Find out if you’ll be covered, and if there are specific instructions to follow should you need health care while traveling.

Authored By: 
Steven C. Schachter MD and Patricia O. Shafer RN, MN
Authored Date: 
07/2007
Reviewed By: 
Patty Obsorne Shafer RN, MN
on: 
Wednesday, December 12, 2018