Did you know? The CDC estimates that there are over 25 million Americans that have asthma in the U.S.
If you’re one of the millions of asthmatic Americans, you probably know that managing your symptoms at home and in the workplace is easy-peezy, but traveling with asthma (especially internationally) can be quite a challenge. From changes in environment to running out of the medications you need, the asthmatic triggers and situations you might face on your trip might seem daunting; but, we’re here to tell you not to let your fears get in the way of your travel dreams.
Book some cheap international flights, add a few scoops of research and sprinkle it all with a dash of pre-trip prep — and voila — you have the perfect recipe for a fun and safe trip abroad! Read on to see our list of top tips on traveling with asthma.
Make a Doctor’s Appointment
Like anyone flying internationally with a medical condition, if you’re traveling with asthma your first step to prep should be a visit to your general physician (GP). It’s important to get the green light from your doctor before you jet set, so that you can rest assured that you’re physically fit for travel and have enough of your prescription medication to last you through to the end of your trip. During your visit, ask your GP to help you fill out your Asthma Action Plan (asthma-emergency form), identify your triggers and understand any potential triggers you need to watch out for. This way, you can prepare accordingly for your upcoming travels and know exactly what to do if your asthma worsens.
Plan and Prep
When it comes to traveling with asthma, planning is everything. From booking accommodation to packing enough of all the medicine you’ll need, it all starts with making informed choices even before you book your cheap international flights and head out on your adventure.
Check Before You Book
Before you book your stay, call the hotel or rental and find out the details of the rooms available. Be sure to book a non-smoking room and ask if the property is pet-friendly, has hypoallergenic options for bedding and has a daily cleaning service. Small things like animal dander, dust mites or a room that allows smoking are common to many hotels and home rentals, so knowing as many details about the room’s interior ahead of time will make it much easier for you to prepare accordingly, so you don’t end up staying somewhere that could potentially make you unwell!
A big part of your prep comes down to packing. So, make a list of everything you need for your asthma and check it twice! You know to pack enough of your medication to last you through your entire trip, but don’t forget to pack some extra for emergencies! From portable nebulizers to easy-to-carry pillboxes, keep an extra supply of all your medical needs along with your Asthma Action Plan in a smaller, separate bag — this is your asthma emergency kit that you should keep on you at all times. In the case of an emergency on the plane, or worse, if you lose your luggage, this kit ensures that you have the things you need close at hand, until you’re able to access your larger supply.
Pro-Tip: Remember, aerosol medicines (i.e. inhalers), liquids over 3.4 oz, and even some nebulizers may not be allowed through airport security without your prescriptions and/or doctor’s notes if you’re carrying them by hand (and not in a checked-in bag). When packing your handbag or carry-on, put your asthma medications, devices and prescriptions (in their original containers and labels) into a clear bag and keep it at the top of your luggage so that it’s easily accessible and viewable to speed up the process when you’re going through security check!
Why wait? Now that you’re travel-ready, book your cheap international flights to get you there!
Do Your Research
Think about where you’re going. How are you going to get around once you’re there? What will the weather be like at the time of your visit? How easily can you reach medical care from where you’re staying? These are important questions to ask yourself in general when you’re traveling abroad, but they’re especially vital for those of you traveling with asthma and/or allergies.
Start your due diligence by reading up on the climate and weather patterns of the places you’re going to be visiting. Many asthmatic triggers are environmental so things like extreme changes in temperature, altitude differences, dust, smoke and pollen are just a few things to look out for. As for remedial care, don’t forget to look up the closest medical facilities in the area you’ll be staying in. If you plan on moving from place to place quite a bit and have a packed itinerary, be sure to note the closest hospitals and pharmacies along your routes. Keep in mind that things like air pollution/quality may also affect your asthma health so do some research on the kind of transportation available to you in your destination, and so you can try to plan ahead and choose how to get from one place to the next accordingly.
Make an Asthma Action Plan
Remember that Asthma Action Plan you asked your doctor to help write? Here’s what it is: an Asthma Action Plan (AAA) is a written plan of action that provides both information and instructions on what to do when your asthma flares up. Your plan should include: a list of all the medicine you need/are on, a list of symptoms to identify when you might sense an asthma attack coming and, lastly, instructions on what to do in an emergency to get your asthma back under control. Always have a copy of your AAA on you at all times. If you’re traveling with others, make sure they carry copies of it as well. This way, your travel buddies are aware of what to look out for and how to help you immediately and, in the case of an emergency, even if you don’t have your own copy on you, someone in the group has it readily available when you’re seeking medical assistance abroad.
Know When to Say No
Hikes, bikes and lakes…oh my! We’re all about adventure and making the most of your trip abroad, but if you’re traveling with asthma and plan on being highly active on your trip, the most important thing is to know your limits and how to take the proper precautions so that you don’t breach them. Not much of a hiker or biker but plan on setting out on some outdoor treks on your trip? Prepare your body well ahead of time for what’s to come. While you might think you’re ready for an adventure of a lifetime, check in with your body and talk to your doctor to make sure it’s safe for you to take part in the activities you want to do. Don’t hesitate to take breaks often, slow down when you need to or even opt out of activities that you think might make you unwell or strain your lungs too much. The most important thing to remember is to stay safe and healthy, so just remember: it’s okay to say no!
What are your pre-trip tips for traveling with asthma? Tell us in the comments below!