Travelling with asthma can be a challenge. Is Travelling with Asthma Possible? Living with asthma doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t travel. It doesn’t even mean that you can’t travel solo. I have suffered from asthma since 14 years old, and have travelled across four continents, including a six week track in the Atlas mountains of Morocco! If you are an asthma sufferer, you can still enjoy travelling, it just means that you need to take a few precautions. Here are a few tips to help you to fully enjoy your trip and limit the chances of any asthma related problems.
Top 5 Tips for Travelling with Asthma
#1 Always take your Inhalers
Always take your inhalers and have them with you at all times. It would be horrendous if you had an asthma attack abroad which could have been prevented. Also, pack spare inhalers and make sure that you have them in your main luggage and hand luggage. If you use a brown inhaler, remember to pack your spacer. Pack carefully for air travel – I had to put my inhalers in a separate clear see through plastic wallet to go through airport security checks.
#2 Visit your GP before you Travel
It is always a good idea to visit your GP before you travel, to make sure that you are fit and healthy. You can also visit the asthma nurse to see if you need a personal action plan, or update it. (See https://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/travelhealth)
#3 Declare your Asthma on your Travel Insurance
If you don’t declare your asthma as a pre-existing medical condition to your insurers, basically, you won’t be covered. That could be disastrous if you had a full blown asthma attack and were in need of steroids or a ventilator. Make sure that you declare your asthma, otherwise it could cost you thousands! Me and Victor on Penny Lane, Liverpool (2009).
#4 Take your Prescriptions
By taking your prescriptions with you, this makes it easier to get your medication replaced if it is lost or stolen. It’s a good idea to scan them in and save them in the cloud so that you have digital copies also – I use Google Drive and Dropbox.
#5 Know your Triggers and Avoid them
People can have asthma triggered by different things. For some, it is hay fever related, in which case you want to avoid areas of high pollen. Some people have to avoid smoking, so make sure that you stay in non-smoking accommodation.
In India, the dusty roads triggered my asthma slightly, but I managed ok after a short rest and a quick drink.
Me, Dan and Ruth at the Taj Mahal, Agra, India (2008). Travelling to India with Asthma is fine!
In Belgrade, there wasn’t a smoking ban in place for pubs, restaurants and clubs. People smoked literally everywhere, and I really suffered with my asthma there. This is also the case in Bosnia Herzegovina. Do your research before you travel!
#6 Build up your Strength through Exercise
There’s a common misconception that exercise is bad for people who suffer from asthma, because it can bring on an attack. This may be true, if someone with severe asthma pushes themselves too hard.
However, slow and gentle exercise built up over time can actually strengthen your body and lungs, and help to reduce asthma symptoms and the chance of attack.
I like to do light exercise at least 3 times a week. This could be a gentle gym workout, a brisk walk or 20 minute cycle. Before a trip, I try to build this up slowly, so that I am strong by the time that I travel. Light exercise has helped by breathing. I used to take my blue inhaler daily, but now I just take it when I really need it.
That helped me to take the short trek around Ait Benhaddou, the Film set of Game of Thrones in Ourrzazate, Morocco.
#7 Make sure that your Injections are up to date
Everyone should be fully vaccinated against the recommended diseases when they travel. This is particularly important for people are travelling with asthma who may have lower immunity levels. Always seek advice from a travel nurse or your GP.
#8 Don’t Overdo It
You now where your fitness level lies. Don’t push yourself too hard, and stop to take breaks when you need to, especially if you are trekking. Take it easy and enjoy 😉
It’s easy to compare yourself to others who don’t suffer from ashma, but this would be an unfair comparison. Don’t expect to do everything that someone without asthma can do, particularly if your asthma is very severe. Know your limits and travel within them.
#9 Tell a Travel Buddy about your Condition and Symptoms
If you have someone with you who understands your condition, travel can be a lot easier. Don’t be embarrassed, but be honest. Having someone there who can monitor you during exercise, grab your inhaler for you if you need it, or phone an ambulance in an emergency makes travelling with asthma a great deal easier.
If you are travelling alone, consider wearing a Medic Alert Bracelet. This can let paramedics know your conditions and allergies, and is potentially life saving in emergency situations.
#10 Be aware during certain Activities
Certain activities such as trekking or scuba-diving can be more of a challenge to someone travelling with asthma. Make sure that you tell your instructor or guide, and follow the recommended precautions during physical activities.
Also, certain climates (humid) can make asthma flare up, so be aware of this.
But, Travelling with Asthma is still Fun!
Finally, enjoy your travel. Asthma is not something that should stop us, just something that we should be aware of and take precautions for.
Do you travel with asthma? I’d love to hear your questions or positive stories about travelling with asthma below!
You might also like to read about Avoiding Heatstroke in the Sahara.