Going on holiday

Traveling away from your home, family, friends and treating healthcare team can be daunting for people living with a lung condition or lung cancer. It is important to plan ahead, to stay well and in control while traveling – read our tips and advice for traveling while living with a lung condition.

Can I travel with a lung condition?

Everyone needs the occasional break from their daily routine, but it’s important if you are living with a lung condition that you consider the extra steps you may need to take before you go on a holiday Changes to your environment and routine can impact your health and may result in a flareup of your symptoms, so it is important to plan ahead so you can be as prepared as possible. 

Preparing to travel 

Tests

Make sure you have any outstanding tests done and receive your results before your holiday, so you can ensure your treatment plan is up to date.  

It is also important to ask your GP or treating healthcare team whether you are fit enough to travel, as there are some additional tests you may need to undertake.  

Action Plan

If you are living with Bronchiectasis or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, speak with your GP or treating healthcare team before your holiday to ensure your action plan is up to date. An up to date action plan helps to identify when your symptoms change or worsen and what action to take.  

If you don’t have an action plan, download a template and arrange an appointment with your GP to prepare one before you leave: 

Medications

Make sure you have an adequate supply of your daily medications as well as any emergency (flare-up) medications on hand, to cover you for the duration you are away 

If you are travelling internationally, you may not be able to purchase your usual medication, so it is best to take enough to cover you for the entire length of your holiday, if possible. If you are going on a long holiday, make sure the quantity you are taking is within the law 

International Authorities may ask for evidence to prove the medication is yours. Ask your GP or treating healthcare team for a letter stating: 

  • What the medication is 
  • How much you will take 
  • That it is for personal use  

Keep all medication in its original packaging and ensure it is clearly labelled clearly by your pharmacist. 

It’s important to note that some countries have strict rules relating to certain types of medication, for more information and advice about appropriate precautions to take when traveling to different countries, visit Smart Traveler. 

 

Medical Equipment

Make sure to pack any respiratory aids or devices you use, such as a spacer, nebuliser, mucus clearance device, oxygen and CPAP machine.  

If you require mobility aids or other medical equipment to travel with you, contact the airline ahead of time to determine what you can bring on board, as well as to organise luggage requirements and priority boarding. If you need to use a nebuliser during the flight, you will need to check with the airline if you are able to use it. Most airlines require either a portable nebuliser with no cord or one with a 12 volts cord, which means you will need to be seated near a power plugIf you are using a battery-operated nebuliser, battery life needs to be checked to make sure it will have enough power for the duration of the flight.  

Insurance

It is highly recommended you arrange travel insurance, before your holiday. If you become unwell, or have a medical emergencyparticularly if you are travelling internationally, travel insurance can help you avoid expensive medical bills.  

Make sure your insurance policy covers all your medical conditions 

Helpful advice to consider when choosing a travel insurance policy:

  1. Ask your travel agent or insurance broker if your travel insurance policy provides medical and disability cover for your chronic illness.  
  2. Review your travel insurance policy for a list of pre-existing conditions that are covered or excluded. If your chronic illness is covered, or you have not had medication or medical treatment for your chronic illness in the last six or twelve months, you may get medical and disability cover. If your chronic illness is excluded, try another insurer.  
  3. Complete any health questionnaires for your insurer, to provide them with as much information about your condition and current health status.  
  4. Ask your GP or medical practitioner for a medical certificate or letter, outlining the current state of your health. If you are in good health and not a significant risk of needing medical and hospital treatment on your trip, you should get medical and disability cover.  

Weather

Certain weather conditions can impact your symptoms and cause a flare-up. Try to avoid destinations with weather conditions that are likely to trigger a flare-up of your symptoms. For example, if you are impacted by cold weather, avoid snow holidays. Have a conversation with your treating health care team about your triggers before booking your holiday.

Travel Companion

Ensure you travel with someone who understands your lung condition and can assist you if you experience a flare-up of your symptoms. In the case of a flare-up, a travel companion can help inform medical staff of your condition and explain your current treatment plan. Take time to discuss your condition and treatment plan with your travel companion so you both feel prepared in the event of a flare-up.   

 

Relax and enjoy

Holidays can be busy and sometimes stress can take hold. Remember, you don’t need to do everything on your to-do list in one day! Work out which activities are a priority, and work through them one at a time. Pace your activities and take breaks to recover where needed, to maximise your energy levels and enjoy your holiday 

Preparing to fly 

There are certain factors to take into consideration if you are living with a lung disease or lung cancer and planning on travelling by plane. Always discuss your travel plans involving flying with your treating healthcare team or GP as they are best placed to provide you with advice for traveling with your condition. 

Tests 

Patients should get a HAST (High Altitude Simulation Test) if they are worried about their oxygen levels in the plane or at a higher-altitude destination. A HAST test can be done by a respiratory physician (Specialist).  

Oxygen

If oxygen therapy is a component of your usual treatment plan, it’s important to discuss with your treating healthcare team or GP if you require oxygen for your flight. If it’s determined you do require oxygen to fly, your airline carrier will likely ask for a completed Travel Clearance Form. Different airlines have different requirements – some airlines require you to pay for oxygen on flight and use the planes oxygen while other airlines have restrictions on what concentrators can be carried on board. You will need to check with your airline about their oxygen policy. 

For more information about travelling with oxygen, click here.