Research shows people with cancer more concerned with cost of travel insurance when going away

Friday 21 July 2023

We conducted a poll and found that 60% of people with cancer listed insurance as their top concern when going on holiday.

Of the 200 people with cancer who took part in our poll across our social media channels, we found that 60% listed insurance as their top concern when going on holiday. 

This was ahead of being away from their medical team (31%), pain management (6%) and nutrition (3%). 

Dame Laura Lee, Chief Executive at Maggie’s said

"Cancer can take so much away from one’s normality that many people desperately want or need a break away to reconnect with family or take some time to relax.

Travelling when you have cancer is usually possible if you're well enough, but we see a lot of people in our centres who feel like they can’t take a trip because they can’t afford travel insurance, while some even decide to take the risk and travel without insurance.

With the cost of living crisis especially affecting people living with cancer, the high cost of travel insurance can mean those living with the disease are unfairly excluded from foreign travel. In our centres we can help people find the right insurance for them or apply for loans to go on holiday.

We can also help with psychological support as travelling with cancer can be stressful and worrying."

Alyson, 55 from Shropshire was diagnosed with primary peritoneal cancer in 2009. Recently she ended up spending £450 on travel insurance for her trip to Minorca. Alyson said: 

"It’s tricky because you are googling different providers, and filling in lengthy forms with all your medical conditions - for me it’s not just cancer but the conditions that go with it - and then at the end it says ‘sorry, we can’t insure you’. When you are trying to be positive and keep going, getting so many of these knockbacks is hard for your self esteem.

What’s more, one policy might be good for the time being, but if your situation changes - as is common when you have cancer - you have to update it otherwise the insurance may become invalid. 

I used an online support group which gave me recommendations for the policy I ended up using, so I would recommend speaking to other people to find out where they got insurance. For me, it was much more economical to buy a year-long policy rather than a single-trip policy. We managed to squeeze in an extra trip to make the most of it!"

Tips and advice 

For anyone living with cancer considering going abroad Maggie’s West London Centre Head Sinead Cope offers her tips and advice.

When not to travel

If you're still having, or have only recently completed your treatment you should always discuss your plans with your doctor or specialist nurse. 

Make sure your plans don't clash with treatment - It can be tempting to arrange a trip as something to look forward to but treatment dates may change, meaning your finish date is delayed.

Ask your hospital team if you need to allow some time after your treatment finishes before you travel. Side effects can continue, and in some cases increase, for a while after some treatments. 

Tips for travelling with cancer

  1. Make sure you have enough medication or equipment like dressings, syringes or stoma supplies to last for your trip. 
  2. You should also check for any restrictions on travelling with medicines between countries and always ask your doctor for a letter summarising treatment and medication - especially if you're carrying syringes and needles.  
  3. It’s also a good idea to split medication up and keep some in your hand luggage in case your bags get lost. 
  4. Check if you need any vaccinations and ask your doctor if you're able to have them alongside your treatment. 
  5. Cancer and its treatments can make you at greater risk of infection. Keep and eye out for any signs of infection and always seek medical support. 
  6. Take extra care in the sun – especially in the extreme heat parts of Europe are currently seeing. Some cancer treatments and medicines may mean your skin is more sensitive to the sun. 
  7. If language might be a problem, it can help to have translated phrases handy that you may need about your cancer or treatment. You can also write out cards to discreetly ask for smaller meals or to say that you need to use the toilet urgently. 
  8. Talk to the airline you're flying with as you might need additional documentation to prove you're fit to travel. 
  9. Get travel insurance or make sure your existing policy has been updated with your diagnosis and treatment details 
  10. Make sure you are up-to-date on any guidance on accessing healthcare. If you're visiting the EU you can find it on the If you're travelling outside the EU, you should check what the emergency number is for the country you're visiting before you travel. 

How we can help

If you or someone you know is worried about going on holiday with cancer, we have expert staff in our centres available to help you. Our Benefits Advisors can also help you to access any grants you may be entitled to that will help with the cost of a holiday.  

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