Traveling With Epilepsy

Reviewed by: HU Medical Review Board | Last reviewed: November 2021

Traveling for vacation or work may require extra planning if you or a family member have epilepsy. Some types of travel may be easier to adapt than others. It depends on the type and frequency of seizures, as well as each person’s comfort level with managing safety issues. Here are a few things to think about when considering travel.

Types of travel

The major ways to travel are by car, airplane, train, or bus. With each type of travel, you will need to think about:1

  • Whether you will be able to safely respond to seizures
  • If medical help is quickly available
  • Flexibility of travel plans
  • Ability to drive or be driven
  • How easy it will be to stick to your diet and drug schedule
  • If mobility support is available, if you need it
  • Whether there is a place to recover after a seizure

Creating a travel plan with epilepsy

You will need to plan a few things before you leave town, whether you travel for business or pleasure. Mostly, you will need to build your travel around what you are capable of doing. For example, you will want to consider:2

  • What is a realistic place to visit? If time zone changes are a seizure trigger, you may want to stay closer to home.
  • In some countries, you may be at risk for certain infectious diseases. You may need to take antibiotics as a precaution to prevent infections that can trigger seizures.
  • If you cannot drive, consider a resort vacation so you do not have to leave your vacation spot.
  • Do your homework ahead of time. Know your transportation options, the names and phone numbers for local epilepsy specialists, and the nearest hospital.
  • Are you likely to have a seizure while away from home? Try to travel with someone who knows how to handle your seizures and what to do if problems arise.

Do your homework ahead of time

Planning is a best friend when you are traveling with epilepsy. If you are traveling for business, you may not be able to control all aspects of your trip, but you can plan for emergencies. Know how long you will be gone, and pack enough of your medicines to last a few extra days. Other tips include:2,3

  • Bring foods that fit your seizure diet if you have special food needs.
  • Pack protective underwear if you tend to lose control of your bladder during seizures.
  • Carry a change of clothes with you during travel.
  • If changes to your sleep patterns trigger seizures, plan your travel and activities around your need for rest.
  • It is easy to miss medicines or lose track of time when you travel. Think ahead about how time changes will impact your medicine schedule. You can set reminders on your phone before you leave town.
  • Before you leave home, update your seizure action plan. You will need several copies of this form and should keep at least 1 copy with you at all times.

Eating and drinking during travel

When traveling, it can be hard to eat as you normally would at home. This can create challenges if skipping meals or eating off schedule aggravates your seizures. When traveling, try to:3

  • Avoid alcohol, especially if other triggers are present.
  • Stick to regular meal times.
  • Carry snacks to avoid going long periods without food.
  • Limit caffeine. This will help your sleep, too.
  • Drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration.
  • Drink only bottled water in countries without a safe water supply.
  • Avoid uncooked food in countries where the water is not safe.

These are just guidelines. You should talk with your doctor about the best ways to reduce your chances of having seizures while traveling. There may be certain medicines your doctor can prescribe to help you travel more easily.

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