Summer is here, and many people are planning vacations after a long break due to COVID-19. While traveling with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) can require some planning, you can still enjoy a much-needed vacation. Let’s talk about some helpful tips for traveling with COPD.
Before making travel plans, you should talk to your health care provider about where you are going and what you plan to do while you’re there. They may have specific instructions for you to follow. This can include things like bringing extra antibiotics or steroids in case of an exacerbation (flare-up), filling out special travel forms for bringing oxygen onboard a plane, and more.
With any health condition, it is important to pack plenty of medication and supplies in case of delays. Packing enough extra medication to last at least a few extra days is a good idea. When I travel, I bring WAY too much medication. I like to bring things like ibuprofen, cold medicines, first aid items, extra epi pens, and even my stethoscope! It may seem excessive, but at least one person in our group will often need some of those items.
If you are bringing oxygen on your trip, be sure you have enough to last for your entire travel time. For example, if you use an oxygen concentrator, bring enough batteries for the entire travel time plus extra in case of delays. It’s also important to check with your travel company to be sure you can bring your oxygen equipment. You can call the train, airline, or cruise ship company to be sure that your oxygen is allowed onboard. Or, you could have an oxygen concentrator delivered directly to where you are staying. You can learn more about traveling with COPD and how to safely travel with oxygen in our Traveling with COPD Guide.
It's also a good idea to plan for emergencies while you’re away. While we never expect to be sick on vacation, it certainly can happen. Do your best to prevent an illness before it starts. Wear a mask if you can and wash your hands frequently. If you’re going to be sitting for long periods, be sure to stretch your legs often. Your health care provider may also recommend wearing compression socks or doing small leg exercises while you’re seated. These small actions can prevent dangerous conditions like blood clots.
If you do find yourself sick or hurt on vacation, don’t worry. Your hotel staff can help you to find the resources you need, whether it’s an urgent care facility, emergency room, or just a pharmacy. If you test positive for COVID-19 during your trip, follow the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines to keep yourself and others safe. If you are traveling abroad, look up that country’s COVID-19 policies before you leave. COVID-19 guidelines and rules can vary between countries. If you catch COVID-19 while on vacation, you may be unable to travel for several days. If that happens, all those extra supplies you packed will be a lifesaver!
What are your best travel tips? How do you stay healthy and safe while you travel with COPD? I can’t wait to hear from you!