Travelling with asthma

Having asthma should not prevent you from travelling and enjoying your holidays.

Planning ahead is key to having a great time away and dealing with any potential problems with your asthma.

Health experts advise preparing for a trip four to six weeks before you travel.

Things to consider as part of your preparation include:

  • health check
  • asthma triggers
  • air travel
  • travel immunisation
  • travel insurance

Health check

See your GP or asthma nurse before you travel to review your personal asthma action plan and to make sure it's up to date.

If you don’t have a personal action plan, now is the time to get one. It will allow you to recognise deteriorating asthma and alter your treatment to stay well.

Find out how you can get medical help (such as a local ambulance or doctor) if necessary at your destination.

Take spare inhalers in case of loss or theft. These can usually be carried in your hand luggage.

Bring enough medicine to last throughout your trip plus a few extra days.

Take a print-out of your regular prescriptions, including the generic names of medicines, in case you need medical assistance during your trip or your medication is lost.

For information, read Asthma UK’s travelling with asthma.

Asthma triggers

If being exposed to feather pillows makes your asthma worse, you could bring your own non-feather alternative or ask your hotel for a pillow with synthetic filling.

If you’re sensitive to tobacco smoke, ask your accommodation provider whether you should book a non-smoking room as smoking rules vary from country to country.

Some holiday activities, such as scuba diving, may be hazardous to people with asthma, and special considerations may apply.

Ensure your asthma is fully controlled as exposure to allergens and viral infections in confined spaces, such as planes and ships, may make your condition worse.

Air travel

If you're always short of breath, even when resting, you may need a special evaluation before you fly because of the reduced oxygen levels at high altitude.

Carry all your asthma medicines as hand luggage, in case your checked-in luggage goes missing or your medicines are damaged in the baggage hold.

Under current security restrictions, you cannot carry containers with liquids, gels or creams that exceed 100ml in your hand luggage.

You can carry essential medicines of more than 100ml on board, but you’ll need prior approval from the airline and airport and a letter from your doctor or a prescription.

All asthma medicines taken on board should be in their original packaging, with the prescription label and contact details of the pharmacy clearly visible.

For more information, read the British Lung Foundation’s advice on air travel with a lung condition.

Travel immunisation

Your GP or practice nurse can tell you what vaccinations and precautions you need to take for the country you're travelling to.

You can have the usual travel jabs that are recommended for your destination, unless there are other health reasons for not having them.

Tell your GP or practice nurse if you have recently used high-dose oral steroids before you have any vaccinations.

Asthma and its treatment don't usually interfere with malaria tablets.

Travel insurance

Take out travel insurance and check that it will cover your asthma. Many insurers ask you to get permission from your GP before you travel.

Shop around for the best deal. Travel insurance quotes vary depending on your age, medication and destination.

For travel in Europe, make sure you have a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). This entitles you to reduced-cost and sometimes free medical treatment.

Take out travel insurance as well because an EHIC may not cover all the costs of your treatment. An EHIC doesn't cover the cost of being flown back to the UK.

See the Asthma UK website for more information on finding travel insurance if you have asthma.

Page last reviewed: 26/05/2014

Next review due: 26/05/2016

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