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Tips For When The Family Must Travel For Surgery Or Other Medical Procedures

Updated on March 3, 2009

Under certain circumstances it can become necessary for a family to pack up and travel for surgery. When a loved one is ill, and requires surgery or some other medical procedure that only a far away doctor or hospital can provide, planning a trip becomes necessary. No one wants an ill loved one to go alone.

My mother required a intensive, invasive surgery to remove any signs of her rare appendix cancer. There are less then 20 cancer surgeons in the United States that are trained and capable of performing this surgery. We were fortunate that one of the highly regarded surgeons was located just 5 1/2 hours away. My family is close. 10 of us drove to go be with her including my sister, her boyfriend, my dad, grandmother, aunts, uncles, and even one of my cousins. We could'nt all stay for the 20+ days she was in the hospital. The majority of us were only able to stay for the 4 days right after her surgery. When a family must travel for surgery, you learn ways to save as much money as possible.

And by the way, Mom is now cancer free =)

Get A Double And Bunk Up If You Travel For Surgery
Get A Double And Bunk Up If You Travel For Surgery

The Hotel Nearby

If you are preparing to travel for surgery, call around for hotels now. You may want to call the hospital directory for leads to hotels that offer discounts for family members that are visiting loved ones in the near by hospital. Some hotels also offer a free courtesy shuttle for families that must fly in.

Our hotel offered us $20 a night off the regular price of the hotel. And provided a free shuttle bus for my grandmother who did not drive and stayed the entire time while the rest of us had to come back home and return to work.

Bunk up with family by getting rooms with double beds to save money.

Questions to ask the hotel:

  • Is there a free breakfast
  • Does the room have a fridge and microwave (you will want to have some food in the room if you are staying for a long period of time)
  • Is there Internet connection and cable TV. (After awhile, you get bored in the rooms)
  • Is there grocery stores, fast food, or sit down restaurants nearby?


If you are not driving, you will need a way to get around. If you choose to rent a car, ask before you go if there are any special deals for families who travel for surgery. If the Hotel offers a free shuttle, ask about the hours it is available. If you will be going back and forth by bus, figure out the bus schedules and routes before you go.

If you do drive, carpool. Plan work schedules around each others so that you can ride together.

A GPS navigation device can be a lifesaver in a unknown town to get around. A GPS can make it so much easier to find directions for food, entertainment, or even back to the hospital or hotel if you get lost.

Travel For Surgery
Travel For Surgery


You may think before you go that you will spend the entire time your loved one is in the hospital by their side. What you will realize when you get there is that your loved one will probably be needing a lot of rest, and you will go stir crazy if you are in the hospital room the whole time, only taking breaks to go eat at the cafeteria. While we were there, my mother needed her rest after her very successful surgery. So we made the most of our trip. We went to the casino in the next town over, bowling, tried out some of the restaurants in the area.

When a family must travel for surgery, there is a lot of stress involved. Your emotions become strained and it is important to keep in good spirits. Your loved one will not think less of you if you try and have a good time during the hours you are not able to be with them. Do not feel guilty. Find something to do. Even if it's an afternoon in a nearby park.

What To Bring

Just like for any travel, pack according the weather and bring anything that you would pack for any other trip. But, when you travel for surgery, you have a lot of down time on your hands in the hotel room or to and from the hospital.

  • If the hotel has a pool, bring a bathing suit and large towel (hotels never seem to have big enough towels)
  • Bring non perishable snacks. There may not be a grocery store in walking distance.
  • Bring books, word puzzles, handheld video games. If going in groups bring board games. 
  • Bring your pillow from home. Hotels clean the bedding.. but, bring your own pillow.


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    • marcofratelli profile image

      marcofratelli 8 years ago from Australia

      Really glad to hear Mom is ok. These are some useful tips. Often when you have to pack up and go in situations like that, you might not be thinking straight and it's easy to forget even the most basic stuff sometimes.