Travelling with asthma
A guide for people with asthma to help them plan their trip.
Health experts advise preparing for a trip 4 to 6 weeks before travel.
What you'll need when travelling with asthma
Take your usual medicine, along with a copy of your prescriptions and your:
- asthma action plan
- travel insurance documents
- European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) for European travel
Things to consider as part of your preparation include:
- an asthma health check
- your asthma triggers
- air travel
- travel vaccinations
- travel insurance
- whether your EHIC is valid in your country of travel after Brexit
Travelling in Europe after Brexit
If there's a no-deal Brexit, there may be changes to how you access healthcare in Europe. You need to be prepared for this.
If you're using an EHIC issued by the UK, it may not be valid if there's a no-deal Brexit.
This will depend on arrangements with individual countries and might mean you need to pay in full for treatment.
An EHIC is not an alternative to travel insurance. You should have travel insurance that covers healthcare when you travel abroad.
Your EHIC will still be valid until the UK leaves the EU.
Travelling in Europe before Brexit
When travelling in Europe, make sure you have a valid EHIC. The EHIC will entitle you to free or reduced-cost state-provided medical care.
The EHIC is not an alternative to travel insurance and you should have both when you travel abroad.
An EHIC may not cover all the costs of your treatment. For example, an EHIC does not cover the cost of being flown back to the UK.
Asthma health check
See a GP or asthma nurse before you travel to review your personal asthma action plan and make sure it's up to date.
If you do not have a personal asthma action plan, now's the time to get one.
It'll 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, at your destination.
See healthcare abroad section for more information.
Take spare inhalers in case of loss or theft. You can usually carry them 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 names of medicines (brand names and medical names), in case you need medical assistance during your trip or your medicine is lost.
See Asthma UK's advice on travelling with asthma.
Avoid asthma triggers
If being exposed to feather pillows makes your asthma worse, 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 hotel 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 asthma worse.
Air travel with asthma
If you're always short of breath, even when resting, you may need a check-up 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, as well as 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 vaccinations and asthma
A 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 a GP or practice nurse if you have recently taken high-dose steroid tablets before you have any vaccinations.
Malaria tablets and asthma
Asthma and its treatment do not usually interfere with malaria tablets.
Travel insurance and asthma
Take out travel insurance and check that it'll cover your asthma.
The government always advises UK nationals to take out comprehensive travel insurance when going overseas, both to EU and non-EU destinations.
Make sure your insurance has the necessary healthcare cover to ensure you can get any treatment you might need.
Talk to a GP and your insurer about how to get the right cover for your asthma and how this affects your travel.
Many insurers ask you to get permission from a GP before you travel.
See the Asthma UK website for more information on finding travel insurance if you have asthma.
Page last reviewed: 28 August 2019
Next review due: 28 August 2022