18 Key Tips For Travel After Surgery You Should Know

If you’re reading this article, you’re probably preparing for an unsavory event in your life or the life of a loved one–travel after surgery. Let me voice that I feel for you. I can think of only a few less fun topics about which to write. However, there may be few more important topics about which I DO write. I speak from experience because I lived this medical travel world recently. I hated every pain-ridden moment, but I learned a lot of valuable travel lessons through it! Written tips are below, but you’ll find great advice in the above video as well. Check them both out!

Travel After Surgery–Pre-Planning Tips

  1. Medical Consultation – Consult with your medical professional about when you can come home from your surgery or medical procedure. Then, add some time onto that time frame! I added two days, and I was grateful for that smart decision.
  2. Companions – Take a companion, especially if your surgeon advises this! I took my mother. She was an awesome companion. (Thanks, Mom!)
  3. Supply Lists & Purchases – Ask your surgeon’s office for a supply list. Buy those supplies at the destination and be smart about how many/much you purchase. If you purchase too much, you’ll have extra weight to carry home or excess product to wastefully discard. It’s a delicate balance!
  4. Arrival Timing – Arrive early so you can briefly learn the area, especially if you rent a vehicle. I was able to show my companion exactly where we needed to go to save her stress after my surgery. For a directionally-challenged person, that extra visualization time can be a huge help to them. Also, if you are a travelholic, you may at least be able to have a fun moment prior to the surgery. If you’re like me, you can use every uplifting experience you can secure! And that may just provide a final boost!
  5. Secure a Good Hotel Room – Contact the hotel directly so that you secure a good hotel room location. Do you need a location close to the parking lot? Do you need a location close to the elevator? Explain your situation, and they can make the appropriate recommendation.
  6. Avoid Travel Aggregation Sites – Consider avoiding travel aggregation sites where you can secure chain hotel rooms for cheap prices. While they may save money, hotels often place their worst rooms on these sites. Plus, you may lack the ability (or have less ability) to request special accommodations. Do yourself a favor and don’t skimp on this aspect of your journey!
  7. Pack Light – Every ounce you carry to your destination is an ounce to handle when returning. Pack light. Then, thank me later.
  8. Consider Your Clothing – The supply list may cover some components of this journey facet. However, mine didn’t; and I wish I had thought through my clothing choices better. Think through whether you need loose (gentle), tight (maintain bandage placement), or disposable (able to get filthy) clothing. Think through what makes sense for your travel agenda.

Travel After Surgery–Airport Journey Tips

First Class Meal American Airlines

  1. Slip-On Shoes – Travel after surgery, especially at the airport, is a pain in the neck. (As well as wherever the surgeon strategically cut.) Save your neck and tender spots by bringing slip-on shoes and wearing them through the airport (and anywhere you need to wear them). I used flip-flops. When I needed to remove them, I had an easy time (especially with help from my companion).
  2. Airline Wheelchairs – Arrange a wheelchair with your airline. They can take you from the ticketing counters all the way to your gate…and to the airplane!
  3. TSA Seated Screenings – Take advantage of TSA’s screening procedures and know that you can have a seated screening if you have difficulty standing up from a wheelchair. By wiggling around in my chair so that the agents could appropriately use their wand equipment, they allowed me to stay in my wheelchair. This was a definitively helpful workaround in my situation so know it’s an option if you need this level of assistance.
  4. First Class & First Row Tickets –  Secure first class tickets and the front seats, especially if you are tall! The extra space and comfort will be well worth it in an already-difficult journey. Plus, the gourmet snack/meal will at least be a miniature treat and pick-me-up. The above photo shows my first class snack, and I remember it made me feel halfway human for ten minutes. Then, I resumed hurting. Life, eh?

Affordability Tips

  1. Special Options Via Your Workplace – Seek out job options! If you have workplace insurance, you will most likely be taking advantage of that support. However, do you also have an incredible deal like Lowe’s? Lowe’s offers free surgeries at certain hospitals around the nation. That’s incredible corporate support! It can pay–a lot–to ask! And if you have this support, you can use the monetary savings to fund the travel portion. That’s a winning proposition!
  2. Special Options Via Hospital Indemnity Health Insurance Products – Another insurance option are hospital indemnity products.  Hospital indemnity coverage can pay you directly for overnight hospital stays, and you can choose how you use the money. Regardless of whether you’re traveling or not, these are helpful! But if you are traveling, these extra funds can help ease the impact on your bank account.
  3. Special Options Via Charities – Some charities like Angel Flight and Miracle Flights can also help. These charities pay for free flights for children and families who need medical help but cannot afford flights. Sometimes, I really love people! Search online for others or ask in your area if there are any opportunities like these.
  4. Rewards Programs – Take advantage of rewards programs, and stack the rewards! By using a credit card with a rewards program to pay for a hotel room when you’re a rewards program member, you receive stacked rewards. Depending on the programs, you may be able to secure a return on investment of 2-14%. Plus, if your surgical travels keep you remote long enough, you may reach higher tier levels in reward programs. Those can trigger faster accumulation of points. You’re spending the money anyway; try to earn some back through rewards financial planning!
  5. Tax-Free Medical Accounts (HSAs & FSAs) – Take advantage of Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) or Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) to pay for your travel tax-free. If you have a large employer, the odds are you have the option to donate to one or both of these. The IRS allows you to use money in these accounts to pay for some travel expenses.
  6. Grocery Store Food – This is kind of obvious since you don’t need surgery to take advantage of this travel technique, but we bought easy preparation food at a local grocery store. Some of that food included delicious rotisserie chicken! (Seriously, that chicken rocked my taste buds.) Using grocery stores instead of restaurants, as expected, helped me save money. Lots and lots of money.


Travel after surgery isn’t fun. In fact, remove “travel” because “after surgery” isn’t fun. Adding travel to the equation very often just complicates matters and the pain. But these tips will help minimize those difficulties and help you return to standard adventuring (and more normal travel topics!). Do you have any tips from your experiences that you can share? Comment below; I would love to hear them!

Until next time…toodles!

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