Everyone’s had the feeling that they’ve forgotten to pack something for a trip. But if you have a chronic breathing condition like asthma or COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), forgetting something can be life-threatening.
More than 37 million Americans have asthma or COPD
Before you travel
- Refill your prescriptions and purchase medications.
- Pack medications in their labeled bottles and keep them in your carry-on.
- If you have liquid medication in excess of 3 ounces, it is exempt from typical carry-on rules, though it will have to be screened.
- Bring back-up medication in case it gets lost or you end up staying longer than planned.
- If you are on oxygen, bring your prescription and a letter from your doctor outlining your condition. Learn more about traveling with oxygen here.
- Consider wearing a medical identification bracelet.
- Create a list of your current medical conditions, medications, dosages and doctors.
- Create a contact list that includes:
- Your doctor
- Your emergency family contact
- The airline, train or cruise on which you are traveling
- A contact person at each destination
- Update your asthma or COPD action plan.
With your doctor
- Discuss travel-related risks, including the weather and climate of where you are going.
- Find a doctor or hospital in the cities where you will be staying in case you need care.
- Get your immunizations including a flu shot.
- Find out if your insurance will cover care where you are traveling and bring your insurance card.
- If you are not covered, consider purchasing temporary insurance.
- Check the weather and pollen forecast for your destination.
- If possible, travel with a partner who knows your medical history and treatments.
At the airport
- For asthma, pack your equipment (spacers, nebulizers, peak flow meters) and tell the TSA so they can screen it.
- If you have trouble walking long distances, request a wheelchair when making your reservations.
- If you have COPD, minimize your risk of getting an upper respiratory infection while on the plane:
- Drink water. Avoid caffeine and alcohol.
- Consider wearing a mask.
- Bring an antibiotic as a backup plan in case you do contract an infection.
While on your trip
- Carry your emergency medications with you everywhere.
- Stay hydrated and drink plenty of fluids.
- Wash or sanitize your hands frequently.