Travel and Housing
When considering international care, you must think about how you will get there and where you will stay.
International travel is expensive, and you may need visas to enter the country. If your child’s treatment is complex, you may be living away from home for many months, possibly more than a year.
You may also need to make multiple return trips for follow up care, possibly every few months for several years.
These are crucial logistics to plan for. Find out the costs involved early so you can budget for them and have a clear understanding of your complete costs. This will enable you to make fully informed decisions about your child’s care.
You and your child will need passports for international travel. Depending on your destination country, you may also need to apply for a visa.
Many countries offer a same-day service for emergency passports, but this may cost more. You will usually need to apply in person (with your child) in a regional or Capital city.
Find out what documents you need to enter the countries you are considering for treatment. Contact the Embassies or High Commissions in your country. Explain the urgency of your application and ask if an expedited visa is possible. This may cost more, so make sure your clarify the charges.
You can only apply for one visa at a time as you must submit your passport with the application. If you are looking at several international options, make your choice carefully at this point.
You will be asked to provide confirmation that the hospital has agreed to accept your child for treatment. Obtain this documentation quickly from the international patient program or the doctors to avoid unnecessary delays.
Carefully follow all visa application instructions. Some families have been refused US visas simply because their passport photographs were the wrong size. Do everything you can to avoid unnecessary delays to your child’s care.
Even with the correct documents, visa applications may not be completed rapidly. Systems do not always take into account the urgent nature of the application, or request detailed evidence of funding sources, which you may not be able to provide at this stage.
If the process of applying for travel documents is likely to delay your child’s care beyond several weeks, you will need to consider other options to protect your child’s life
Gather quotes from different airlines. Many airlines have “compassionate rates” for emergency travel. Some have donated flight programs for children, but some require 3-6 months notice. This is an unacceptable delay tor your child, so be clear on the timescales involved.
In North America and Australia, many mission flight organizations exist to help people with travel to hospital. Around the world, other air missions may also be able to assist. Examples include Angel Flight, Air Care International and Mission Aviation Fellowship.
These organizations usually request a medical referral. If this is required, ask the international hospital, or contact us for assistance.
You may be at the international centre for only a few weeks or more than a year. When you talk with the doctors, ask how long you should expect to be staying in the country for treatment and initial follow up. This will help you assess your housing needs, options and the related costs.
Many hospitals have family housing close by that provides heavily subsidised or free accommodation. Some have also negotiated generous “patient rates” with local hotels and long term lodgings. Others offer discounts for long term guests. Ask the international patient program about these options, and contact the housing facilities and hotels for more details.
Contact organizations representing expatriates from your country in the destination city. They are often close-knit communities willing to help fellow countrymen in need. Explain your child’s situation and ask what assistance they can offer you in terms of housing, emotional encouragement and even fundraising.