Many people look forward to getting away from their day-to-day routine, and with Christmas approaching your planning may already be underway. If you live with a lung condition a holiday can take a little bit of extra planning, particularly if you are on oxygen therapy. Before you book a trip, here are some tips to consider.
Always speak to your health professional to ask whether you are fit enough to travel as there may be some additional tests they want to undertake.
Air travel requires extra medical consideration as the reduced air pressure in an aircraft affects your blood oxygen levels. Some people with a lung disease may need supplementary oxygen when travelling by air, even though they do not usually need it at home. Your doctor can arrange a High Altitude Simulation Test to assess your oxygen requirements when travelling by air.
Check with the travel provider about any requirements they have. In many cases, the company you are travelling with will require a letter from your doctor stating that you are medically fit to travel.
Plan your trip in advance. Places you liked to visit in the past may not be suitable now. Think about how far you can walk, how many stairs you can manage, how accessible the toilets will be and what transport you can use.
Ask your doctor for a brief medical history to take with you. This should include a list of your prescribed medicines and your oxygen prescription.
Research travel insurance as different insurance companies have different policies for people with lung conditions, so find the best deal for you. Many travel agencies offer holidays for people with special requirements.
Talk to the experts. Travel agencies are used to dealing with special requirements. They should be able to answer all of your queries and concerns.
Using oxygen during your journey
Many airlines do not allow you to take your own portable oxygen cylinders on board. Instead you may need to hire an aircraft approved oxygen cylinder or arrange in-flight oxygen through the airline. If you are using the airline’s own in-flight oxygen equipment, they may not allow you to take it off the plane. So, if you have a stop-over on your journey, you may need to arrange a different oxygen supply for the time you spend on the ground in between flights.
Some portable oxygen concentrators are easy to use on board planes and other modes of transport and can then be used during stop-overs as well. It is wise, however, to check that the company you are travelling with will allow your concentrator on board. You may need to book a seat near an appropriate power source so the concentrator batteries can continue to charge in transit. This is especially important for long journeys where the concentrator may need to operate for many hours.