Good morning and happy Friday – it is almost the weekend! Many people are looking forward to their upcoming Summer getaways, but unfortunately for people with chronic illnesses, this isn’t always the case.
Travelling can add an extra set of worries to your list of things to deal with when you are disabled or chronically ill. Today, I wanted to share something which is helping people with hidden disabilities to travel and reduce that level of pre-holiday stress.
The Sunflower is a globally recognised symbol for non-visible disabilities, also known as hidden disabilities or invisible disabilities.
Not all disabilities are visible – some are not immediately obvious. They include IBD, autism, mental health conditions, hearing loss, or deafness, diabetes, respiratory conditions and many more. I have an ileostomy but unless I was not wearing any clothes (unlikely in an airport), you wouldn’t know from just looking at me. People like me, who have an invisible disability face barriers every day – negative attitudes and a lack of understanding are still, unfortunately, commonplace.
The Sunflower lanyard is designed to be a discreet indicator of someone with a hidden disability, who may need support, help, or a little extra time to do something. While this post is talking about travelling through airports or train stations for example, the lanyards can also be worn in shops and public places.
There are so many options for people to choose from on the Sunflower lanyard shop – from the lanyard to a whole range of sunflower cards, some which specify the condition you have like the Crohn’s Disease one above. As I have a few chronic illnesses, I just have the basic card on mine.
Going through security is one thing I find most nerve-wracking at an airport. I haven’t flown since having my ileostomy and that will be a big step to take, however the Sunflower lanyard and my IA Travel Certificate (which you can order from IA National Office and explains what an ileostomy (or internal pouch) is in a variety of languages should you be asked about it) mean I am well prepared! I am well used to travelling with medication and keep it in my hand luggage with a copy of my prescription, as well as a letter from my consultant, to explain what my injections are and why they can’t be put through the scanner. I have never had an issue with these from airport staff who have always been very helpful.
I would love to hear about your travel experiences and tips in the comments below and if you would like me to share more posts about traveling with chronic illnesses, do let me know! In the meantime, if you are planning a trip, I hope this post is helpful and you have an amazing time!