Traveling with Asthma

Asthma should not slow down your travel plans. Traveling with asthma takes a little more preparation time to ensure that your time away will go smoothly and be uninterrupted. Being away from your own environment means being prepared for exposures that are out of your usual routine. Here are a few simple steps to help guide you in planning safe travels:

Be Prepared

  • See your medical provider before traveling
  • Update your Written Asthma Action Plan with your medical provider
  • Refill your medicine before you travel
  • Pack enough medicine for all your days of travel and three to four extra days
  • Make sure to have your quick relief, long-term controller medicines and emergency medicines
  • As a precaution take an extra written prescription for your medications with you
  • Take your provider’s office contact information with you
  • Make sure to have your insurance card packed
  • If you will be travelling with injectable medications (e.g. epinephrine for food or stinging insect anaphylaxis), make sure to get a letter from your medical provider stating the medical necessity of the device to avoid problems at airport security

Plan Carefully

  • Never pack medication in luggage that will be checked – always carry them with you
  • Call hotels to ensure that your room is smoke-free, pet-free and that bedding and pillows are down-free if needed
  • If you are sensitive to dust mites pack a mite-proof pillow cover (these are inexpensive and take up very little room in your suit case)
  • Think about your destination and if it will cause any special challenges for you asthma or allergies
    • Beaches – are great places but sun exposure can be more challenging for people with eczema. Limit sun exposure by wearing sunscreen, lightweight long sleeved shirts and long pants, and stay in the shade
    • Mountains – are beautiful but the change in altitude often can impact asthma. In addition, these types of vacations tend to be more active which is great – you just need to be prepared and make sure to carry your quick reliever and emergency medicines with you at all times. If you are starting to feel lightheaded and/or experience trouble breathing, you may want to stop, rest, take your quick-relief medication and re-evaluate if it may be time to descend to a lower altitude
    • Forests – the increase in pollen, allergy exposure, insects and humidity can often trigger an allergic response for people with asthma or allergies. You should be sure to use insect repellant and dress in clothing that limits your chance of getting insect bites. Make sure to carry your quick relief and emergency medicines with you at all times.
    • Foreign country – traveling outside of the United States takes careful planning. You need to look for smoke-free accommodations at hotels and restaurants, air-quality of the destination, weather conditions at the time you will be traveling and talk with your medical insurance company prior to traveling about coverage. You also need to find out what electric voltage works to ensure your medical equipment will work or take a convertor with you. Talk with your medical provider about your travel plans and the best options for your medical care in case of an emergency. Visit a travel clinic or your medical provider and make sure to discuss appropriate vaccines and recommendations before traveling.