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Archive for April, 2010

When planning your travel, I like to recommend that you plan for the worst and hope for the best.  More often than not, things go exactly as planned and all is well.  But in the unfortunate case that you do have travel delays, it is better to be prepared.

A few easy ways to “plan for the worst” are:

1) Always take more medications than you think you will need.  That includes not just the medications for your cycle, but any other medications you routinely take.  Of course, you can usually get refills at the clinic if needed, but if you’re already traveling, you don’t want to run out of your medications.  You’ve spent so much on getting through the cycle, it would be devastating to know that it could all be lost because you ran out of medications. 

Usually your clinic can help you get access to medications while you are traveling – but if you get stuck in another country mid-way, it may not be so easy. So, best to take precautions in advance. 

Also, never pack all of your meds in your checked luggage.   I suggest having at least several days of medications in your carry-on, that way if your checked bag is lost, you still have a few days to arrange to get replacements.  If this happens, call your clinic or agency right away – they should be able to help you find a way to get enough medication to carry you through. 

Do NOT underestimate the importance of taking your medications on schedule (especially progesterone).  You can’t just “skip” doses and hope to get away with it (like you might with some other drugs).  Your body needs most of these medications taken on schedule to get and keep you pregnant.  You’ve gone through so much to get that way, it just would be crazy to lose it over missed medications.  If you ever have any question, be sure to ask your doctor right away. 

2) Never book the last flight of the day.  That almost insures that if your connection is missed, or the flight is cancelled you will be stuck overnight at the airport or a nearby hotel, and airlines are more reluctant than ever to give out hotel vouchers. 

3) Always have a way to access extra money if you need it.  Don’t just carry one credit card – take one Visa, and one Mastercard or AMEX, along with some cash.  Maybe take an ATM card too.  But don’t carry them all in the same wallet.  Just have some backup plans in place if your wallet is lost or some unexpected event means you need to have access to cash or credit.  

4) Keep a copy of your clinic’s 24 hour hotline, or your agency’s contacts with you at all times while traveling (not in your checked luggage).  That way if anything goes wrong, you can reach them quickly and easily – without waiting to get to your checked bags. 

Hopefully by being the good, prepared Girl or Boy Scout, you won’t ever need to use your backup plans. But you’ll feel better knowing that you have a contingency plan in place if anything doesn’t go the way you anticipated.

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The recent volcano and resulting travel nightmares emphasizes the importance of having contingency plans – particularly when traveling for medical treatments.   Those safeguards and contingency plans will help make things easier if you are stranded by a volcano, hurricane or some other “made for TV” worthy travel horror story. 

Probably one of the most important things to realize when traveling for IVF is that our bodies don’t always work on schedule – so I suggest planning a few buffer days near your clinic on either side of your treatment.

For example, when my client/patients are planning their travel to Europe, I suggest they arrive 2 days prior to treatment, and leave 2 days after the latest likely transfer date (usually based on a 5 day transfer).  That provides a little buffer for recovering from travel hiccups.  I recently have had two clients on their way to treatment who were bumped from or missed connections that resulted in them arriving at the clinic a full day late –  which  could have been a disaster if they hadn’t planned the buffer days.   I think it is especially important if you are traveling from the US to Europe, since often there is only one flight per day. 

While I am not always a big advocate for travel insurance, it does provide some relief if things go awry.  Just make sure to check the fine print and see what circumstances are covered and what is excluded.  Many travelers affected by this Iceland Volcano (whose name no one can pronounce) are just now reading the fine print to see if their travel insurance carrier will cover their hotels and expenses until they can get a flight home. Without the coverage, you could be faced with thousands of dollars of unexpected expenses.  Most travel insurance seems to be covering the current volcano situation, but not all of them, so make sure you check the fine print before you buy your coverage.  

Usually you want to buy the trip insurance close to the time you book your trip to get the most coverage.  Travel insurance companies won’t cover something that already happened – so that flight you just booked to Europe next week would likely not be covered for delays from the volcano if you bought the insurance after the volcano erupted. 

You may also want to check into a “cancel for any reason” rider.  You will definitely pay extra for it, but that will help you if it turns out your period shows up late or some other circumstances arise to delay or cancel your cycle that just wouldn’t otherwise be covered by the “medical emergency” coverage of a standard travel insurance policy.  There are special travel insurance plans for medical tourism, but to date they seem to be so expensive that they probably wouldn’t be cost justified for a regular IVF cycle.  Perhaps that will change as medical tourism increases.   

More thoughts on travel safeguards tomorrow.

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