Shine news

Travelling with confidence

29th May 2024


Travelling when you have spina bifida or hydrocephalus can raise some worries about your journey and your health while you are away. You might need a little more preparation, but for most people it will be possible to travel and have a holiday you enjoy!

Tryb4uFly with Queen Elizabeth’s Foundation for Disabled People

Queen Elizabeth’s Foundation for Disabled People (QEF) is a national charity who work with children and adults with physical and learning difficulties.

QEF acknowledge that flying can be a daunting process for disabled people and their ‘Tryb4uFly’ service aims to reduce this uncertainty and enable people to fly more confidently.

QEF have a range of free resources including video guides for powered wheelchair users or people with hidden disabilities. They also have a checklist to help plan your journey.

With centres in Leeds and south London, QEF offer assessments with a qualified health professional who uses air fuselage to recreate the cabin environment, allowing for a realistic assessment of your mobility, transfer and seating needs. The appointment lasts around 45 minutes. They can then make recommendations regarding any equipment needs and will provide a report with details for you to make your own decisions.

QEF give the option to hire a range of equipment for your flight to make your journey more comfortable, which can be cost effective than buying your own. This equipment can be couriered within the UK a few days either side of your flights.

To book an appointment call QEF on 020 8770 1151 or email or visit here for more information.


Having information to hand when you travel

Navigating the airport and plane is one part of travelling with confidence, another way of travelling with confidence is to ensure you have all the up to date information about your condition.

You might want to ask your hospital for a copy of your most recent scan on a USB memory stick so if you need a scan on holiday, they can compare it to your last one. It can also be helpful to identify where your closest Neurosurgical centre is by searching on the internet.

Get any prescriptions you need ahead of time, with spares in case of delay or misplacing these and a copy of your prescription, in case you need to show why you are travelling with certain medicines.

Ensuring your Shine Hospital Passport is up-to-date can be helpful when travelling in the UK or abroad. You can access it here


Travel insurance

It is important to ensure that you have appropriate travel insurance, with accurate information about any consultants you see and how often you attend appointments. You should ensure your policy covers you for all the activities you plan to do on holiday – things like winter sports are often not included. Small errors or leaving things out can be costly if you need to make a claim.

The Global Health Insurance card (GHIC) replaces the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) now the UK has left the EU.

When your EHIC expires, you can get a GHIC from the NHS website here.


Shunt alert!

Magnetic security wands have been reported to reset certain programmable valves, although this is very uncommon. Let the airport security staff know that you need to follow the same precautions as people with heart pacemakers and take your Shunt Alert Card with you. The whole body scanners, which use X-Rays or millimeter Waves, should have no effect on your shunt.


Stay hydrated

Remember to keep hydrated while you are away – bottled water is best if you are abroad and to check your skin – a change in routine and temperature can mean you are at risk of sores or cuts.

See our page about footcare for more advice.


Read more travel information and advice


Most of all enjoy your holiday!


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