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Travel Checklist: Asthma & COPD

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

Here is a checklist compiled from the COPD Foundation and the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America you can use to make sure you have everything you need to travel safely.

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.

Travel partner

  • 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.

Ashley Brantley

Ashley Brantley has been writing about food, culture and health for more than a decade, and has lived in three of Tennessee’s four major cities (Memphis, Nashville and Knoxville).

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Get more information about specific health terms, topics and conditions to better manage your health on bcbst.com. BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee members can access wellness-related discounts on fitness products, gym memberships, healthy eating and more through Blue365®. BCBST members can also find tools and resources to help improve health and well-being by logging into BlueAccess and going to the Managing Your Health tab.

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WellTuned does not offer medical advice. Any personal health questions should be addressed to your doctor.

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