It’s spring-fling weather, and you’ve nailed the perfect bargain getaway. But while booking the cabana and Mustang convertible, you forgot a few details—like, say, whether your destination country even admits positive people. Poof—there goes your room deposit. And how should you pack your meds to avoid airport confiscation? Will your insurance cover you abroad? Chill. Whether you plan to travel for pleasure or necessity, master these money-saving secrets—and you’ll have more dough for daiquiris.
First, before laying out any cash, check your destination country’s policies regarding entry for positive people. Short-term visits are typically unrestricted, but this varies—and regulations get stricter the longer the stay. (The U.S. has one of the toughest policies for those traveling into the country with HIV.) In the U.K., anyone who “does not appear to be in good health” may be denied entry. Canada requires testing for stays longer than six months (a positive result can, but doesn’t automatically, deny entry), while some Caribbean islands, like St. Kitts and Nevis and St. Vincent, require testing only for people requesting residency. To avoid detainment and unexpected, costly longer stays, visit travel.state.gov, search for “HIV Testing Requirements” and find the country you’re visiting.
Next, make sure your meds have a round-trip ticket. “Security flight restrictions [for medications] change frequently and quickly,” says Jen Sinton, an HIV Project staff attorney at Lambda Legal, a New York-based civil rights organization for the LGBT and HIV communities. “If you have liquid medications or syringes, call the airport to check what the restrictions are.” This could save you the cost of replacing the meds at the last second and having to overnight them to your hacienda. To that end, Sinton recommends leaving meds in their original packaging and taking along a copy of your prescriptions. “I keep a list with me of all the drugs I take so that if I run into any situations [at the airport], people will know exactly what I’m taking and what they have to confirm,” says HIV-positive Chicagoan, William Rydwels, 74, who has traveled across Asia and South America. If confidentiality is an issue, you can ask for a private security screening. Also, pack more than enough medicine to last until the end of your trip, and put them in your carry-on luggage—in case the airline loses your bags.
Finally, scour your insurance company’s fine print, which may not provide health coverage outside the issuing country; Medicare and Medicaid, for example, hold up only in the U.S. Call your insurance company and find out exactly what they will and will not cover—for instance, sudden travel home in case of a medical emergency, or covering the cost of meds dropped accidentally into the pool.
Now that you’ve ensured you’re protected financially, lock your tray in the upright position, and make a clean escape.