How to get through airport security without a hitch!

When you experience an injury or health crisis, travel might be the last thing on your mind. But you may find yourself having to think about it in a new way, after you’ve recovered.

Two years ago, my friend Ellie slipped and fell in her driveway, breaking her ankle. Her recovery was slow but successful, and she’s going on international assignment soon. However, like many surgery patients, Ellie has a new consideration. “Even though the screws in my ankle are made of titanium and don’t usually set off metal detectors,” she says, “sometimes they’re picked up on airport body scanners. That happened when I flew to see my family for the holidays. It confused the TSA inspector, and slowed down the security process for everyone.”

Upon returning home, Ellie learned that the US Transportation Safety Administration’s website has an entire section with information for travelers with medical devices. The TSA also offers email and telephone support to upcoming travelers.  Ellie explained, “Now I keep a TSA Notification Card in my wallet, and a letter from my orthopedic surgeon on my smartphone.”

It’s wise to review your personal documentation regularly, and especially after you’ve experienced a major health event. Some questions you may need to consider:

  • Should I carry documentation of my medical devices?
  • Do I need to notify airports, airlines, and/or transportation authorities in advance of any special needs I have while traveling?
  • Will I be able to take my prescription and/or over-the-counter medications to my destination?
  • Should I consider wearing a medical alert bracelet while traveling, and does the information on it need to be translated into my destination’s local language?

A pre-assignment medical checkup is an excellent time to discuss your concerns with your  physician. Government websites like the following can also be helpful:

In Australia:

In Canada:

In the United Kingdom:

In the USA:

Airlines and airports may also have information you need for your journey.

Happy safe, comfortable, and healthy travels!
Written by Erin Fitzgerald, GMS –  Living Abroad’s International Content Manager