Overwhelmed After a Serious Diagnosis? Think Travel

By: Noah Rue

There’s a lot think after a serious diagnosis (treatments, doctors’ visits & health insurance), but one thing you may want to add is planning some travel.

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It may seem counterintuitive, but getting away from it all can be one of the absolute best things to do when bad news comes knocking.

We all have had those tests — the ones that we wait by the phone for the call from the doctor to hear the results. Oftentimes we are lucky enough to breathe a deep sigh of relief with common tests, such as an STD or pregnancy scare.

However, there is always the chance that you might receive less-than-desirable results. When these events occur, it becomes very important to not allow yourself to wallow in the emotion or get stuck in a self-defeating spiral.

Here’s something you might not have thought about

There is a lot to think about when you receive a serious diagnosis: your immediate healthcare, health insurance claims and treatment plans. You’ll need to figure out how to look after yourself and your family. Hundreds of thoughts will cross your mind, and not all of them will be worthy. Perhaps one of the thoughts to add to that list, though, is to start planning your next vacation.

Depending on your diagnosis and travel restrictions, this could include a trip overseas or a simple yoga retreat getaway in a nearby neighborhood that may aid in extending your lifespan. The positive effects of traveling may not help cure you, but they might help you feel better during a rough patch in your health.

Planning for wellness travel

Take the necessary actions to best care for your health and then put the devastating news in your back pocket while you set your sights on a distant horizon. Take care of the essential pre-trip checklists so you can sit back and enjoy the benefits of daydreaming of the vacation to come.

A study by the University of Surrey found that the simple anticipation of a vacation can improve your mood. The study’s report states, “It appears that those who are waiting to go on a holiday are much happier with their life as a whole, experience less negative or unpleasant feelings and thus enjoy an overall net positive effect or pleasant feelings.”

Although you may not be feeling you are at your physical best, your state of mental health can be improved just by the thought of soon being under a cabana listening to the ocean waves.

Having something to look forward to can keep you from dwelling on the present. It also gives you something to talk about with others instead of the same conversations about your health and daily challenges.

Keep things positive, and you’ll likely begin to reap the results of planning instead of finding yourself inundated with some of the unpleasant possibilities that may present themselves.


If your diagnosis is life-threatening or has seriously shortened your life expectancy, don’t take it lying down. Going out and creating new memories is an enjoyable way to spend time with your loved ones.

Sometimes, it may be more fulfilling to go solo and see what you are capable of accomplishing. But, be sure to not test yourself beyond your doctor’s recommendations. Listening to your healthcare professional should be your first order of business. Taking care of yourself in all the right ways should be the second. This is especially true when things feel rushed or it seems time is at a premium.

When in doubt, travel with your loved ones along. This lets you create memories together that will help to create a deeper connection and allow you to remain a major part of their lives. When they reflect on your time together, they will be flooded by memories of adventure and exploration, as opposed to the doctor visits and days of rough health or monitoring and waiting.

The lasting memories you create, complete with pictures, video and all the trimmings, can be preserved for future generations. The memories can also buy your own health while you wrangle with the challenges that serious health issues often pose. This will help you keep your spirits up regardless of your travails.

Treatment overseas

The prices for medical care in the United States are more costly than anywhere else in the world. As a result, medical tourism is taking flight, saving some individuals a small fortune in medical bills. Take advantage of the opportunity to visit a country that you have never been to before that can offer you equivalent medical treatment at a reduced cost.

Before you go, arrange a meeting with your own doctor in the states to discuss the details of your diagnosis and the available treatment options. You’ll want to make sure you understand everything involved in your care and any necessary procedures.

While hospitals are found around the globe, standards of care can vary greatly. Your local options are not always your best, but choosing a strange doctor in a foreign land may not go as planned, either.

From there you can begin your research of doctors and facilities that may be of benefit to you. It is in your best interest to do your due diligence and thoroughly research any medical practitioners that you are considering working with as well as your insurance options and the costs of care.

Getting a travel evaluation

Before you commit to a plane ticket or solidify plans, check with your doctor that you are clear to travel. Traveling can cause additional stress that may be detrimental to your health.

Additionally, airports, airplanes, trains, and buses are high traffic areas that can expose you to various viruses and other types of communicable infections. Be sure to get any recommended travel vaccinations (if ok with your regular doctor) and take precautions that can reduce the risks associated with those vaccinations.

The bottom line

Protect yourself if you decide to embark on a trip after a serious diagnosis. Although it can be beneficial to your mental health, it may leave you sicker or even bedridden without proper care and planning.

These type of errors are far too easy to make, so you’ll want to examine every option and work with your healthcare provider before taking the leap.

But when all is said and done…plan wisely and then enjoy the ride!

Originally published at thedoctorweighsin.com on January 31, 2019.

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Dr. Patricia Salber and friends weigh in on leading news in health and healthcare

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