Traveling with UC & Humira — Not So Bad

3 years ago, if you would have told me that I’d be considering a trip overseas, I would have contested this statement to its core. For the large part of my freshman and sophomore years of college, my health had alluded me. Now, this is not an article written to retrieve your sympathy, instead, this is a piece of work I felt as if I needed to write, for there is essentially nothing else on this topic out there on the internet. I’ve had moderate to severe UC since I was a senior in high school, and this disease has been one that I’ve worked tirelessly to keep under control and prevent it from directing my life. Through my many struggles, I’ve learned to be at peace with what I must do to live a healthy life, and when I started Humira in 2015, I reached a point of, what you would call, remission.

Reaching this median was a huge step for me, as it took time to regrow the confidence I had in myself. Romantic relationships, weekend getaways, even just going out for a night — all of these acts had been such stress and worry on my mind that I simply preferred to just stay in my room. But once I was “healthy”, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of urgency to get out and do something, because how could I know when I would once again be ripped of this chance to be alive?

As my senior year of college approached, my buddy Brett and I decided we were going to backpack Europe. Neither of us had any experience going overseas, but that’s what drove us. We saved our money, bought our plane tickets, and upon graduating from college, 5 days later we left for London.

Now — there was one very difficult thing to wrap my head around about this trip, and that was managing my Humira injections.

Some things to know about Humira:

  • Humira needs to be kept cold, I don’t know the exact temperature but it needs to be cold, like a working refrigerator cold.
  • Humira is still usable for 14 days after its been taken out of cold temperatures, but it needs to be used in this time or it apparently does not work ( I’ve never tested this).
  • Humira can’t be prescribed overseas without a prescription overseas.
  • Humira is very expensive, so special conditions need to occur in order to receive a “vacation override”, in order to receive large amounts of Humira in advance.

So question number 1 for me, was how the hell am I going to keep Humira cold while traveling? There were no answers, a couple blogs, and little resources explaining how this may happen. Truthfully I think its because most people who are on Humira don’t feel comfortable traveling, and I don’t blame them, because it’s not comfortable. However, it is most definitely worth it, both from a point of amusement and from a perception of self concurring.

If you’re simply here for the resources, this is what I used to keep my Humira in during my travels:

These Prestige Insulin Cooling Bags by MedActiv are such an amazing product, I trusted them with everything I had as we went on our 7-week journey through Europe. Each pack contains two MedActiv Ice packs, and with both of them fully frozen they will keep your medicine cold for 14 hours no problem. We took multiple 9+hour bus rides and I was not concerned at all. They are also very compact — I carried a separate bag on my shoulder specifically for my medicine so that I could bring my medicine on buses with me, and then my backpack was separate.

Simply, as long as I had a working refrigerator and freezer wherever I went, I was perfectly fine. However, if you’re staying in hostels, this is not always guaranteed. I learned this the hard way, and my very first hostel in London did not have a working freezer. I highly recommend bringing zip lock bags in case this happens, and you can put ice in the bags and place them in the MedActiv bags, this saved our whole trip.

At hostels, you just need to put your pride aside and ask for help. The helpers at the hostels will surely assist you if they can. I always put my medicine in an “employee” fridge if I could, but often I had to put them in the shared refrigerators which was nerve racking, but I learned to accept the fact that no one was going to steal a bag of medicine. I made sure to clearly write in white Sharpie my name, and the fact that this was medicine I needed to survive ( in attempt to change the mind of any suspect thieves).

There’s no need to make this an incredibly long post. All I can say is that taking this chance was the most prolific thing I’ve accomplished in my young life. Once you find yourself overseas, it is likely the difference in food quality will assist in your gut health, as I found myself healthier and happier than I had felt since I was diagnosed.

Do yourself a favor and take chances, and don’t let excuses fuel your sorrow. If you have any questions about UC, travel, humira, or all of the above, please feel free to reach out to me.

Best of luck.

Find your beach



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