I don’t know about you all, but I get very excited this time of year about our yearly family vacation. I am a girl who loves to travel and the idea of getting away from the daily hustle and bustle of my life and focusing on just enjoying it brings a smile to my face. However being a mom of 3, I know travel plans can’t come with a bit of planning and preparation and the first thing I do is create a checklist to make sure I have completed all pre-travel “to do” items and that I am bringing everything that I need. People with a lung condition must also prepare and preplan before traveling. The thought of this can be daunting to some but hopefully with my travel checklist you can have some peace of mind that you have “thought of everything.”
Here is BreatheLiveFit’s 10 Things You Should Do Before You Travel When You Have a Lung Condition
1. Consult with your physician about your trip. This doesn’t require you to make an appointment and go in. What I am suggesting is a simple phone call to let your physician know your travel plans and get their endorsement for your trip. It will give you confidence knowing that your physician feels like you are up for the travel. If your physician feels as though your health could be compromised by traveling, this will give you an opportunity to figure out if you are “well enough” to go or come up with an alternative plan. Depending on the area of the world that you may decide to visit, there may be additional immunizations that your physician may want you to have prior to leaving.
2. Frequently check the weather prior to your trip and definitely before you pack. Are you traveling to an area that the air quality, temperature, and altitude may affect your breathing? If you read my Weather Changes blog, you will remember that higher altitudes and weather changes can cause you to be short of breath. Subsequently, you will want to make sure you are dressing for the climate of your destination and packing the right attire. Wearing clothes that are too warm or finding out that your destination is colder than you anticipated may impact your comfort level, stressing the body, and causing more breathlessness. Make sure to pack light layers that can be easily added or taken away in order to make you feel comfortable.
3. Pack helpful info. – Never leave home without a list of your current medications that you are taking. I also think that it is a wise idea to have a written list of emergency contacts as well as insurance info and doctor’s name/phone/and fax. Many travel websites recommend you making 3 copies. One to keep with you, one to give to a travel partner, and one to leave at home.
4. Make sure the medications you are taking will last the duration of your trip. We have all been there… we are packing to leave only to realize that you only have 3 doses of your blood pressure medication left in the bottle. Don’t let this type of stressor and poor planning waylay your plan to be prepared on your trip. Two to three days before you leave, count your pills or dosages and make sure you have plenty of medication to last your entire vacation. If you so incline, have a couple of extra days worth of medication packed just in case you decide to stay an extra day or two or if your flight gets delayed. If you are flying, pack these medications in your carry-on bag just in case your baggage lets lost or misplaced by the airline. Leave your medication in its original packaging with clear labeling.
5. If possible, have an emergency prescription for an antibiotic with you. In the last month, I have started 2 different patients in pulmonary rehab who went on a vacation and became ill. Both of them reported in that they became very ill in a matter of a couple of days and before they knew it, they were hospitalized. I say this not to scare you but to encourage you to have a “back-up” prescription for an antibiotic that you can take if you start to show symptoms of an infection or flare-up. Most physicians are happy to oblige but want you to call them if you decide that you need to start taking it. They may want to give you some other pertinent medical advice as well as make a plan to see you in their office upon your return.
6. Oxygen users should pack extra supplies. If you have an order to wear oxygen, please make sure you have extra nasal cannulas packed in your suitcase. If you use oxygen tanks to supply your oxygen bring extra “rubber washers” and tank keys to be able to change out your tanks with ease. If you have a back-up regulator for your tank, it’s not a bad idea to have it packed as well. If you use a portable oxygen concentrator, bring extra batteries and chargers. If you are traveling by air, most airlines want your battery life to last 1 ½ times your flight duration. Verify all of your batteries are charged prior to your flight. Notify the airline after booking your flight that you are required to wear supplemental oxygen. Find out your airline’s specific requirements for flight. Call the airline 48 hours before your flight to see if there is anything else you need to arrange just to take any worry out of travel day.
7. Make your itinerary “doable.” It is a huge mistake for anyone with a lung condition to pack way too much into their travel plans. Schedule your “must do” items during a time of the day that you have the most energy. Leave time for naps or rest. Exhaustion is a sure fire way for you to feel more breathless and to compromise your immune system. Try to book flights at a time of the day that you can easily make. Avoid rushing if at all possible and allow yourself plenty of time each day to get ready.
8. Consider purchasing travel insurance. Unfortunately people with lung conditions are susceptible to becoming ill. Travel insurance should cover the cost of your trip if you were to cancel last minute. It also reimburses you if you have to return home early or miss a portion of your trip. Some travel insurance policies will cover the cost of lost or stolen bags and flight delays. It’s definitely worth looking into and many times can be pretty affordable.
9. Take advantage of amenities. Most hotels and resorts will try their best at accommodating people with disabilities and medical conditions. Although you are not required to disclose specifics it can take some of the “worry” out of your accommodations if you inquire about what amenities their location may have for people with disabilities. If you would rather stay on the ground floor to avoid steps or elevators, call your hotel in advance and let them know you have a medical condition and that you prefer a ground floor room. If they don’t offer ground floor rooms, see if you can get a room close to the elevator to avoid long walks down a corridor. Request handicap accessible rooms if you require the use of a rollator and/or wheelchair. Make sure the room you are staying in is smoke free. If you have a sensitivity to fragrances, notify the hotel in advance so they can avoid heavy fumes and fragrances in the room from cleaning products.
10. Do your research. The more you know about an area the more comfortable you will feel about going. Find out where the closest medical center and pharmacy is to your hotel. Do an internet search to see what activities are lung condition or senior friendly. Consider renting a mobility device like a rollator or electric scooter if you feel as though walking may be difficult for you. If flying by air, what will your transportation be once you arrive? Will you be transported to your destination by bus, van, or car?
What other pre-travel tips do you do or think about? Comment below and let other readers know what works for you!
Thanks for Reading and Happy Traveling!
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