Travel can cause additional stress, and there can be additional challenges when travelling with a cognitive, behavioural, developmental or psychiatric condition. While preparation may not address all concerns, the following information may help you manage any stress or anxiety you are experiencing.
- Try to anticipate possible stressors to help you better cope when the actual date of travel arrives. Consult with your physician regarding your physical and mental health history as it is important to discuss how your body will be impacted by travel and the medications you plan on travelling with. Ensure medications that you are taking with you are legal in the country you are travelling to including countries where you will have a layover in. If a medication that you are prescribed is illegal in a country you are travelling to, consult with your physician to see if there is an alternative. Carry a list of your medications and/or always carry your medications in their bottles professionally labelled by the pharmacy. There is even more detailed information regarding travelling with medication or medical equipment on our website.
- If your condition causes sensitivity to noise, stimulation, and/or is worsened by dealing with the unknown, you may want to consider taking a small trip to the airport prior to your flight departure to familiarize yourself with the environment and where you need to go. Familiarize yourself with quiet rest places that may help you if you become stressed or anxious in the new and busy environment and need some time between flights to get away from the stimulation. However, you will not be allowed past the security screening area and, due to security concerns, pre-boarding of the aircraft is not permitted outside the date/time of departure.
- On the day of your flight to avoid added stress, plan to arrive at the airport well in advance of your flight time to allow you to get through all the pre-boarding steps such as check-in and security. WestJet recommends that guests arrive no later than 90 minutes before your flight’s scheduled time of departure for a flight within Canada, and two hours for any flight leaving Canada. Be sure to plan extra time to get to the airport to account for unplanned events such as traffic, airport line-ups, and weekend/holiday business.
- Use noise cancelling headphones or soothing music on your flight. You should be aware that if you are boarding the aircraft at a ground loading airport where you are required to walk on the tarmac/ramp, that headphones are not permitted and absolutely no exceptions can or will be granted to allow headphones to be worn on the ramp.
- Pack your favorite snacks and have them accessible to you in the cabin to act as a distraction if you are prone to being agitated or anxious. Food items, like all items, must meet restrictions for security screening. You can find more information on the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority website at: http://www.catsa.gc.ca/liquids-food-personal-items. Please keep in mind that in rare cases, if you are bringing a snack with peanuts or nuts of another sort, you may be asked to refrain from consuming them if there is a guest with a peanut/nut allergy nearby.
- If you have boarded the flight but it has not yet departed and you feel extremely unwell and that travel is not going to be an option, please advise the cabin crew and they can determine next steps. We strongly suggest that if this is a concern that you consider purchasing trip cancellation/travel insurance or check whether the credit card you will use to purchase your flight offers this as a benefit. If you have or plan to purchase insurance please review the terms and conditions carefully to ensure that you will have the required protection for this event. Be sure to familiarize yourself with the cancellation fees for your flight.
Have a plan ready in the event you have an unplanned health-related event or emergency.
- Travel with medical and trip insurance.
- Get help for yourself immediately if you feel stressed, anxious, depressed, very angry, or if you want to hurt yourself or someone else.
- If you are overseas call the Canadian Embassy or nearest consulate for a list of medical professionals in that area.
If you are travelling with an attendant or a companion:
- Go through security checkpoints behind your attendant or companion.
- If your attendant or companion has any problems, such as setting off the security alarm or is taken aside for additional security screening, you can wait for them to be cleared if you haven't yet proceeded through that checkpoint. However, if you are in front of them, you are not permitted to return and you may be separated.