ACCESSING DISCOUNT RAIL TRAVEL
People with epilepsy who are unable to drive are eligible to apply for a Disabled Persons Railcard. Leaflets, which include an application form, are available from main railway stations. The application will need to be certified by the person’s GP. The railcard entitles the person and a companion to a third off all rail travel.
ACCESSING DISCOUNT BUS TRAVEL
In all areas, a discount on bus travel is available for people with uncontrolled epilepsy. If you are registered disabled then a free concessionary bus pass is available.
In some areas your travelling ‘companion’/ ‘enabler’ is also entitled to free bus travel.
Local bus stations and your local council offices will be able to give more information, as policies vary from area to area.
TRAVELLING BY AIR
Anyone travelling by air is advised to keep a sufficient supply of tablets, in their original containers, in their hand luggage. Customs officials may request information about a person’s medication. Therefore, travellers may wish to carry a letter, detailing their seizure type and medication.
When travelling, it may be helpful to continue taking medication at regular intervals. This may require gradual adjustments to accommodate changes in time zones.
If there is a likelihood of a person having a seizure during the flight, they should inform the cabin staff. Some airlines may request information about the person’s epilepsy from their doctor before travel.
Always take sufficient anti- epileptic medication with you and take a copy of your prescription.
If you are travelling to parts of the world affected by Malaria you will need to seek advice as some anti-malarial medication may increase the risk of seizures. Your GP will be able to tell you which is the most appropriate medication for that country or region. However, advice from the Hospital for Tropical Diseases states that people with epilepsy or a past history of epilepsy should not take either chloroquine or mefloquine (Larium).
No anti-malarial medication is 100% effective, therefore it is important to take precautions to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes. These include wearing long-sleeved clothing, particularly after dusk, and using an insect repellent containing DEET.
Insurance is a sensible course of action for all people planning to travel, to cover illness, accident or even lost suitcases!
Often insurance is included if you book a package holiday or book through many travel agents. However, do take a close look at the policy details to see whether existing medical conditions are covered.
Advice from the Nationals Society for Epilepsy advises that under the Disability Discrimination Act holiday insurance companies should not weight a premium because a person has a history of epilepsy. Each company should consider the persons circumstances before giving a quote.
Often this means speaking to someone in the medical department of the company who will ask various questions about your condition. A premium may then be added, based on the risk of your condition. It may be worth contacting a few insurance companies to see who can offer you the best policy and cover.
If travelling within the EEA you can apply for an European Health Insurance Card (EHIC).
You can apply for an EHIC for your spouse/partner and any children up to the age of 16 (or 19 if they are in full-time education) at the same time as applying for your own. If you are a foster parent or guardian (including boarding school teaching staff), you can apply on behalf of any children you are looking after. You must be over 16 to apply as a main applicant.
Regardless of how you apply, you will need to have the following information to hand for everyone you are applying for:
- Name and date of birth
- NHS or national insurance (NI) number
ARE THERE ANY SPECIAL HOLIDAY SCHEMES FOR PEOPLE WITH EPILEPSY?
The Royal Association for Disability and Rehabilitation (RADAR) produce a number of travel guides, which list organisations providing holidays for people with disabilities, including epilepsy. Their publications include ‘Accessible Holidays in the British Isles’, European Holidays and Travel Abroad’ and ‘Getting There’.
The organisation PHAB runs clubs and holidays and schemes around the UK, which bring physically disabled and able-bodied people together.
Disabled Persons Railcard Office
P O Box 163,
Newcastle upon Tyne NE12 8WX
Helpline: 0845 605 0525
e-mail: [email protected]
D V L A, Swansea