Medically reviewed by
Dr. Natalie Bessom, D.O. Board-certified family medicine doctor with specialty training in nutrition, USA
Traveling is an everyday activity that comes in various forms and for various purposes. Whether a long or short trip, a work trip or a vacation, it is ideal to plan very well to ensure you do not encounter any problems, especially those that are avoidable.
As someone living with hypothyroidism, there are a couple of factors you need to consider when planning your trip to ensure that you’re on top of your thyroid health even when you’re far from home or the environment you’re used to.
Your plans will typically depend on the purpose of the trip, the length of the journey, the duration of the trip, or the means of travel used.
Whatever the case, with the following travel tips in mind, you can rest assured that your trip is less likely to be negatively impacted by your hypothyroidism.
1. Have a checkup before traveling
It is advisable to see your primary care doctor or endocrinologist for a health checkup at an appropriate time before you embark on your trip, especially if it is a major trip.
If your test results suggest that your hypothyroidism is well under control and your doctor deems you fit to travel, you can then focus on the rest of your plans for the trip and ensure that you take the necessary precautions to avoid aggravating your condition.
Your doctor may also advise that you get some immunization shots before leaving for your destination, especially if you’re traveling internationally.
2. Take along extra medication
It is obviously essential to bring enough medication for the entire course of your trip. However, due to possible unforeseen circumstances beyond your control, it is wise to carry along extra medication.
It is also expedient to have your medication in your carry-on bag instead of your luggage in case you lose it. Or, you could split them and have some in either.
This way, you will still have enough medication even if you lose some of your medication or if your trip extends beyond the intended duration. It would help if you also took extra care to ensure that your medication is in its original container.
In the case of the liquid form of L-thyroxine, it should be in an appropriate transport apparatus as it is sensitive to heat.
3. Carry your prescription with you
Make sure to take along a copy of your prescription for your thyroid medication. You may need it to purchase new medication in case you run out or lose the medication you brought for your trip.
It will also be beneficial to have your doctor’s contact details if needed for your prescription refill.
Depending on the laws of the country or region you are traveling to, you may not be allowed entry with the medication without an official prescription.
It would help if you also familiarize yourself with the restrictions on certain medications in your destination country before embarking on your trip.
4. Strive to maintain a regular schedule for your medication intake
One tricky thing about traveling across different time zones is how you may mistakenly lose consistency with your regular medication schedule.
Hence, you should make sure to adjust your medication intake time to suit what you are already used to doing. If the time difference is huge, it may take some time and a little more effort to get used to the new time.
For instance, if you used to take your medication very early in the morning but now have to take it in the afternoon, it may feel a little difficult at first. With the ThyForLife app, you do not have to worry about remembering to take your medication at the right time.
While traveling, the app will help make things easier, primarily through automated reminders to take your medication. You could also discuss with your doctor how to get your new schedule to be as similar to your regular home schedule as possible.
5. Carry along appropriate clothing
To avoid feeling unusually cold due to your hypothyroid condition, you should make an effort to carry along the right kind of clothing to help you keep warm.
You can be flexible in the way you dress by dressing in layers. This way, you can easily take off or put on layers of your clothes as appropriate, given the temperature at the time and how you feel.
6. Stay well-rested and comfortable
The importance of having enough rest cannot be overemphasized. You cannot afford to be stressed as it is likely to exacerbate your condition.
Make sure you get enough sleep before or during your journey and during your entire stay at your destination. Also, make sure you feel comfortable generally.
Do not overexert yourself. If you are tired of standing and feel like sitting, take a seat. If you feel like stretching, do so. If your clothes feel uncomfortable, change into more comfortable clothes if and when you can.
7. Stay hydrated
Do well to avoid activities or substances like caffeinated or alcoholic beverages that will leave you dehydrated. Drinking a lot of water will help you stay hydrated.
It is essential to keep hydrated if you are hypothyroid to avoid constipation, as that is a common symptom experienced by people living with hypothyroidism. Staying hydrated is also likely to make you feel less tired.
8. Plan your diet
You may not be able to plan extensively ahead of your trip the meals you will take, which is fine. You should, however, keep in mind certain foods to avoid while on your trip as you usually would.
Certain foods like soy-rich foods and high-fiber foods tend to interfere with the body’s absorption of thyroid hormones, so you should avoid them if you’re hypothyroid.
Conversely, you should incorporate antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables like tomatoes and carrots in your diet for an optimized absorption of thyroid hormones by the body. Also, avoid starving yourself or going long hours without eating anything.
9. Don't forget your supplements
You should also consider taking supplements to boost your immune system. This is important as hypothyroidism makes one more susceptible to certain illnesses, so immune boosters in the form of supplements could come in handy for your trip.
Not only should you aim for supplements such as selenium and zinc supplements that help maintain optimal thyroid hormone levels, but you should also include certain vitamins such as Vitamins E, C, D, and A, especially if you have low levels in your system.
You are welcome to review our comprehensive guide on how consuming certain nutrients such as iodine, selenium, and zinc can reduce your symptoms and help maintain a healthier thyroid.
10. Plan for emergencies
Before or during your trip, it is important to nominate an emergency contact. Sharing enough details about your medical condition with at least one person on the trip is advisable if you aren’t traveling alone.
This person should be someone you trust and can rely on in case an issue arises with your health while you are away from home.
If you are traveling alone, your emergency contact could be someone back at home or a trusted person or people where you will be staying for your trip, possibly the front desk if it is a hotel.
It would also be great if you could find a suitable healthcare provider nearby in your destination and arrange to visit when necessary.
- While this article is targeted at people with hypothyroidism, it is also largely beneficial to other thyroid patients.
- If you’re hypothyroid, you may want to ensure you are medically fit, especially concerning your thyroid health, before you travel. Incorporating a medical checkup into your plans is hence a prudent move.
- Before you embark on that trip, plan for emergencies. Pack extra medication in case you lose some or experience unavoidable delays extending your trip beyond the intended number of days. If you run out of medication, you may need a prescription to purchase new ones, so it is crucial to carry an official prescription from your doctor.
- Make sure you have enough rest and are comfortable. Pack the right clothes and dress in layers to help you adjust to the temperature. Get enough sleep, drink lots of water to stay hydrated, avoid foods that may exacerbate your symptoms, and try boosting your immune system with the right supplements.
- For your own benefit, try as much as possible to maintain a regular schedule for taking your medication. You should particularly factor in the time difference in your plans if you are going to be traveling across different time zones.
- Download the ThyForLife app to help you personally manage your hypothyroidism without hassle.
At ThyForLife, we do our utmost to provide accurate information. If you require more detailed information regarding medical terms, conditions, and practices please consult your healthcare professional. Always listen to the advice of your healthcare provider