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Primary & Secondary Lymphoedema Online & in the Community


Welcome to our Holiday-care page

This page not only has tips and advice on how to take care of your lymphoedema when you are on holiday it has useful advice on passports, medication abroad, how to contact the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Would you know how to contact The British Consulate in the country you are on holiday in?


Holiday First Aid Kit


Anti-fungal Cream

Antiseptic Cream

Alcohol Wipes

Anti-histamine tablets

Insect Repellent cream or spray

Sun block SPF 50-60


Compression garments at least two one to wear and a spare

Roll of tape if you use taping

​Marker Pen

By Plane

  • Pre-book your seats
  • Ask at check in if there are any spare seats you can move to, that would give you more room to spread out.
  • Ask for assistance
  • Allow plenty of time in your journey
  • Pay for lounge access, far more relaxing
  • Dress in loose, comfortable clothing
  • Wear your compression
  • Make sure your seat-belt is not too tight
  • Move around as much as possible
  • Exercise ankles and fingers
  • Do deep breathing exercises
  • Drink lots of water
  • Avoid alcohol
  • Watch your salt intake
  • Baby wipes for that quick freshen up

It is important for you to be safe when flying, make sure your seat belt does not leave indentations on your skin Ask for extra leg room when booking.


Make sure you have enough medication before you go away.

Know the Generic name for your medication.

Please check that your medication is not banned in any countries you go to.

Check to see if you need vaccinations, making sure that they are not given in your affected limb.

I was reminded by one of our followers on our Facebook page to also take a photocopy of any medication prescription you have. 

If you get stopped at customs and have your prescription on you they can then check it against your medication.

Is Medication Legal?

In light of events in 2016, please check if your medication is legal when travelling outside the UK.


Take photocopies of any important documentation and leave them with a trusted family member or friend.

Wear your wristband


For the antibiotics see your GP in case you develop cellulitis, sore throat or other bacterial infection whilst on holiday.  The  Lymphoedema Clinic at Mary Ann Evans Hospice provide a letter on request for patients to take to their GP.'s, requesting antibiotics.

My members on L-W-O tell me that most of their GP's are sympathetic to giving out antibiotics for Lymphoedema.  However, GP's that don't understand the complications that are associated with Lymphoedema often give the following excuses;

"its not ethical"

"its financial"

The reasoning as to why you have to have antibiotics is simple.

The financial argument being that a hospital admission is costlier than an emergency supply of antibiotics.

The medical argument is that nipped in the bud cellulitis is easier to treat and the Patient less likely to suffer damage to whatever Lymphatics are working.

Thank you to Wendy Ashworth for putting the above arguments so eloquently.

Travel Insurance

Travel Insurance.  Insurance companies often issue you with an Insurance ID card which you can carry in your purse or wallet.

L-W-O cannot recommend an insurance company.  However, we do ask that you declare all your pre-existing conditions in other words declare your lymphoedema. Make sure you are covered. If something goes wrong and you haven't declared one or more of your conditions, then that insurance becomes invalid.  Please read the small print so that you know how to deal with any problems that might arise.

​Take a copy, many people will download the insurance to their laptops or mobile phones.  What happens if there is no Wi-Fi? 

​Even if you have taken out travel insurance, please make sure you have enough money to cover any emergency medical bills.  Often you will have to claim that money back on your return to your home country.  Keep an emergency fund for that unexpected finance.

Going to Europe, then apply for your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) its free;

Documentation valid?

Make sure you have 6 months left on your passport when you come back into the UK.

It is also advisable to take photocopies of your passport and any other important documentation. When I am preparing for a holiday I always take photocopies of insurance documents, passports and prescriptions which I leave with my family. Therefore, if you are incapacitated for any reason your family has all the details.


In case of emergency.   Please make sure you have ICE (in case of emergency) on your mobile phone.  Did you know?  That there is also a place to add a note; Mine reads; Lymphoedema no invasive procedures to right arm. No BP/Blood tests to right arm. No injections or IVS to right arm. This is available free through Play Store. Google translate is also available through App store or Apple is also free.


Use a case with wheels and try not to be lifting a heavy case off the carousel or onto weigh machines.

If you are struggling ask for help or even better book assistance before hand.

Do not carry hand/shoulder bags on your affected side.

Be careful with backpacks and other heavy loads.


Airports are busy, sometimes frantic places and you will always find someone who is impatient.  Whilst it is not always possible, stand back try to avoid someone running into you with a trolley or bumping into you with their case.  The last thing you need is to damage your affected limb.

Check out before hand what the airports disability travel arrangements are for example Heathrow airport has a policy for hidden and cognitive disabilities.

Hidden Disability Lanyards

Hidden Disability Sunflower Lanyards

Sunflower Lanyards, discreetly indicate to airport staff that you have a hidden disability and you would like additional support.  Staff have been trained to recognise these lanyards, and to provide you with any help you may need at various stages at the Heathrow airport.

To get one of the Sunflower Lanyards email: and provide us with a forwarding address.

Research Accommodation

Whether you are staying overnight or for a couple of weeks.

  • Are lifts accessible
  • Wet rooms or accessible showers
  • Is there a porter to help with luggage
  • Is reception 24 hours in case you need assistance



Sun holidays

Many people with lymphoedema find that their affected limb(s) swell more in the summer months or when on holiday because of the heat.  When I am on holiday, I am reminded what a challenge being away from home is, and the affect travelling has on my lymphoedema.  My husband and me like to cruise because he hates flying, so whilst the holidays are quite laid back there are challenges.

Our last holiday wasn't too hot but I still experienced swelling, more aching than usual and possibly due to the change in water a lot more itching.  Prickly heat, hives, insect bites and stings are far more likely to happen in the summer or on holiday.   My trusted friend, my tube of antiseptic cream came in very handy and was used in abundance.

Sun holidays with high temperatures cause all sorts of problems, for your lymphoedema.  If you have had radiotherapy be very careful not to burn the affected area as your skin will stay sensitive to the sun even when your treatment has finished.  Keeping cool in the summer or when on holiday can become a nightmare, it is very important to try and keep the affected area of your lymphoedema cool. 

Summers in the UK are unpredictable.  Those of you who wear compression garments find it uncomfortable when the weather is humid.

Keep cool

If you do get hot, cool yourself with lukewarm showers or baths, this works better than very cold water.  If you're hot, but it's not possible to get into a shower or bath, at least cool off your affected limb by wrapping a cold wet towel around it and elevating the limb with support.  Some people prefer to cool off by dampening the garment itself.  If you do this, be sure that the garment dries in a reasonable amount of time so that there is no chafing of the skin, especially at joint creases.

  • Avoid the sun between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.
  • Outside - find a shady spot
  • Inside - find a place with air conditioning 


Stay hydrated

You need to keep hydrated, drink lots of water.

This makes it easier for your body to regulate its temperature.  I don't want to be a spoil sport especially if you are on holiday but as nice as it might sound alcohol won't help. Alcohol can cause your swelling to increase.  I recently read this "Alcohol turns to sugar - sugar turns to bacteria".  Made me think!!

Food and Drink

Even if salty foods don't normally affect your swelling, this may be more likely in the summer.  Go for crunchy snacks like fresh raw vegetables instead of potato chips.

  • Eat cool food like, salads, vegetables and fruit. 
  • Eat smaller meals, often, rather than one huge meal.
  • If you are at home have oven free days.
  • Caffeine in hot weather is not good for your lymphoedema.
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Drinks with sugar, alcohol, and caffeinated drinks can make you more dehydrated.



Being outdoors in the summer can pose more problems than just overheating. 

Sunburn, prickly heat rashes, insect bites and stings are also potential problems.  No matter which repellent you use, some insect bites probably are inevitable.  Be prepared to treat them immediately to lessen the histamine affect, which can cause increased swelling in that area. 

Treat an insect bite like any break in the skin on your limb at risk.  Wash and dry area completely and apply antiseptic cream to area. Below is a photograph the misery insect bites can cause.

If you are going on holiday remember to include alcohol wipes to clean off any skin break, antiseptic cream for application on the skin.  If you have had an episode of cellulitis in the past it is recommended you include antibiotics in your first-aid kit so that you can start taking them without delay if your limb should become infected (hot, red, swollen and or painful) while you are away from home.

Cool Room

The following tip can be used when you are on holiday or at home.

This tip I learnt living in Cape Town a few years ago, the benefits of keeping curtains closed. 

So if you go out, close all your curtains, blinds, shutters so that when you arrive back at home, or to your hotel room, you are stepping into a nice cool room and not into a greenhouse.  This applies to all rooms facing the sun.

Tips to keep cool

  • Keep a top or bottoms in a plastic bag in a refrigerator then if you are hot and bothered you have clothing to change into that is nice and cool.
  • Keep flannels in the freezer, then when you go out put them in a plastic bag to use on your face, neck hands or anywhere when you want a quick cool down.
  • Keep water in the fridge for a nice cool drink.
  • Going out for the day put bottles of water in the freezer overnight
  • Fill a spray bottle with water keep in the fridge for a quick cool down

Another way to keep cool indoors and outdoors is one of these pocket fans.  Available in the summer months in some supermarkets.

Be safe Outdoors


Relax and keep those legs elevated.

At the beginning of this article I wrote about the swelling that lymphoedema patients can experience on holiday or at home in the garden in hot conditions.  Below is a photograph supplied by Mary Eaves on how to stay cool and elevate those legs.



Bitesize Video tips

Compression Garments

Always wear your compression garment whilst travelling and for several hours after.

For all of us that have lymphoedema it is important to remember to keep moving.

Please remember you can get bitten even with a compression garment on.  

Photograph of L-W-O member and online admin Karen Taft with her new purple sleeve


Clothing during hot weather should be comfortable and light, if you do start to swell then even your underwear can become extremely uncomfortable.

Moreover, looser, non-restrictive clothing will allow more air circulation so that perspiration and moisture won't be trapped next to your body. 

Cotton absorbs perspiration while synthetic materials trap the heat.  Remember, you can also get sunburnt through clothes. Always apply sun screen to exposed parts of your skin.

If you have breast, chest wall or under arm lymphoedema bras and sleeves can be become very tight.  Wear light, loose, non-constricting clothing.  Not only will it be cooler; it is also better for the free flow of your lymphatic system.  

There is a tendency of lymphedematous limbs to swell more in the summer; clothes and underwear that fit well in the winter may be too tight for summer wear. 

If you have had radiotherapy to the upper part of your body, then wear a T-shirt to swim in to protect from the sun.​

No Indentations

Check each day to be sure the edges of your clothing do not leave indentations in your skin. 

Do not wear the item if it leaves indentations - it can constrict some of your delicate superficial lymphatic system. 


If you have lower limb lymphoedema, wear well-fitting footwear which provides good support. 

When travelling do not remove your shoes because swelling could increase and then you might not get your shoes back on. 

Break footwear in.  When the weather turns hot make sure you are not putting yourself at risk from blisters, tightness, or redness from new footwear.  Wear footwear that can breathe.

Did you know?

Flip flops can cause stress fractures

Around pools, in the sea or even in showers when on holiday you should wear something on your feet.  This will protect you from fungal infections, or stepping on something sharp.   A minute slither of glass that the eye can't see can cause a serious injury or infection.   Everyone with lymphoedema should protect their feet.

For more information visit our foot-care page


Head-wear, a wide brimmed hat offers shade.

Hats and scarves can be sprayed with Citronella to keep those bugs away.


Do not wear tight belts.  Make sure that your jewellery is not tight, make sure that bracelets, rings and watches do not leave indentations or cause swelling.


Rings can be a big problem and they can cause swelling.  This makes them difficult to remove.  One of our lovely members Sandie Evans found the following video that you will find on You Tube.  Its by Dr. Simon Carley at Centre for Evidence Based Emergency Care (CEEC) at Manchester Metropolitan University.



Make up in hot weather prevents your skin from breathing.  In really hot weather I either go without or just use eye makeup and lipstick.

Night time

At night, sleep in cotton.  Cotton nightwear, sheets, pillow cases and cotton duvet covers. 

Please remember synthetic pillows will also retain heat.  

You could get rid of your duvet and just use a sheet at night if you like to be covered. 

Put the sheet in the fridge before you go to bed for a couple of hours, when you throw the sheet on the bed your climbing into a nice cool bed.  I do realize this might be difficult on holiday. 

On cruises housekeeping turn down the beds at night so that they are ready for you to climb in, good hotels will also do this.  They will find it strange if sheets suddenly start disappearing, even more so if they find them in the fridge!!

Modes of Transport

My tips:

  • By car - take regular breaks, whenever possible get out of the car and walk to exercise your limbs.  Make sure that you have plenty of  legroom whilst in the car and do ankle and finger exercises.  In hot conditions make sure your cars air conditioning is working and use it.  
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • By bus - use rest breaks to get off the bus and stretch your limbs, if possible do ankle and finger exercises whilst travelling.  It is unlikely that travelling by bus will give you the leg room you need therefore, make sure you use the rest breaks.
  • By train - do your ankle and finger exercises and if possible get up and walk around.  If you need assistance ask.  Preferably pre-book assistance before you travel.

Holiday phrases

Since being diagnosed with Lymphoedema I worry, "what happens if I get ill on holiday"? The advice I have always been given is to take my own antibiotics.  The worry is how do I explain that I can't have blood pressure or needles on my affected side.

We are very lucky in this day an age to be able to have access to the internet and with smart phones or tablets, translation services are easier to find. On my phone I have google translate. This is available free through Play Store.  Google translate is also available through App store or Apple is also free.

Members tips

Our Facebook member's tips have been great and appreciated so here are a few you might like to try.

Vitamin B1 has been suggested as an insect repellent.  Taking B1 before going on holiday and whilst away might prevent you getting bitten.

Spray hats or scarves with insect repellent or citronella which smells nicer.

Citronella candles keep bugs at bay. 

Please remember that L-W-O does not accept responsibility or liability for these tips.  Always consult your own Health Care Professional.


There's very useful information on the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office travel advice website.

This website covers all sorts of travel issues including;

  • Safety and Security
  • Health
  • Local laws and customs
  • Entry requirements
  • Natural disasters

If you need help when travelling for example lose your passport, it would be helpful for you to know where the British Consulate is situated.

Planning is the key

Being prepared is essential

 Don't become a slave to your lymphoedema and most of all have fun 

Enjoy your Summer!


This page was first published in April 2014

Page last updated 06/04/2018