A Guide to Traveling With Asthma
For the 25 million individuals living with asthma in the U.S., preparing for a trip or time away from home involves a few extra steps. It’s important to pack carefully and make sure you have everything you need to manage your asthma, including medication and medication delivery devices. Additionally, since environmental triggers can worsen certain types of asthma, researching your location and carefully planning your activities and accommodations is key.
Use the suggestions below to prepare for your next trip and read our previous blog, Managing Your Medications While Traveling, for more on what to consider when traveling with medication.
Travel doesn’t always go as expected, so bring more of your asthma medication than you need. Plan ahead to refill your medication in advance of your trip, if needed. If you are prescribed both a quick-relief medication and a longer-term control medication, make sure you have enough of both. Depending on the severity of your asthma symptoms, you may want to order a medical identification bracelet.
Consulting your doctor
Depending on your plans, you may wish to consult with your healthcare provider to discuss how your upcoming travel may impact your overall health or your asthma treatment needs. Ask if there are any recommended vaccines for your trip.
An asthma action plan documents your individualized treatment plan. It should include what steps to take if your asthma symptoms intensify, a list of your medications and dosages, and your doctor’s contact information. If you have an existing asthma action plan, make sure it’s up to date. If you don’t already have one, work with your doctor to create one before your trip.
View the American Lung Association’s guide on creating an asthma action plan.
Insurance coverage and prescription laws
Before departing for your trip, review the details of your health insurance plan. Check whether your plan covers doctor’s appointments or emergency visits to a hospital or urgent care in another state or country.
If you are traveling internationally, be mindful that prescription laws vary by country. It’s a good idea to contact the U.S. embassy of the country you’re visiting for more details. Some countries may only allow a 30-day supply for certain medications and/or require you to carry an official prescription or additional information from your doctor with you.
Preventative steps for allergic asthma
Allergic asthma accounts for approximately 60% of all asthma cases in the U.S. With this type of asthma, inflammation in the airways and the development of asthma symptoms occurs after exposure to allergens. Common allergens, or allergic asthma triggers, include household dust mites, pet dander, and pollen.
If you have allergic asthma, there are steps you can take before your trip to prevent a flare-up of symptoms. For example, when staying in a hotel, request a room that is non-smoking and pet-free. You can also anticipate exposure to pet dander while in transit by contacting your airline or train company and asking about their policies.
There are tools that share your destination’s pollen forecast, including Accuweather and Pollen.com.
Here’s a list of potential asthma medications and medication delivery devices to pack. Some may not be relevant for your treatment plan, and if you’re unsure what to bring, ask your care team. In addition, confirm which temperature your medications should be stored at and take those guidelines into account when packing.
- Enough medication for your trip, plus extra
- Medication delivery devices including a nebulizer or spacer (if applicable) - if you are traveling by plane, contact your airline in advance to learn how to pack your nebulizer. If traveling internationally, make sure your device will work with power outlets in your destination.
- A peak flow meter (if applicable)
- An extra written prescription
- Your health insurance card and provider’s contact information
Medications should always be packed in your carry-on rather than a checked bag. While the U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA)’s current limit on liquids, gels, and creams in a carry-on bag is 3.4 ounces (100 milliliters), there are exceptions for medications. Give yourself extra time to allow for screening of these items. If you use a nebulizer, it will likely require additional screening.
Customs officials may ask for proof of your prescription records if your medications don’t have labels or are from another country. If you are traveling internationally, carry physical proof of your prescription to avoid any issues when passing through security or customs. A prescription label or a copy of your prescription will work. (For most inhalers, the prescription label is on the box rather than the inhaler itself.)
While many pharmacy apps allow you to show digital proof of prescription records on your phone, you should have a physical label or prescription copy in case you do not have internet access.
During your travels
While at your destination, always carry your quick-relief medication with you in case of an emergency. Take appropriate precautions to limit your exposure to asthma triggers. If your allergic asthma symptoms are triggered by poor air quality and pollution, checking daily air quality reports — included on many weather apps and websites — can help you prepare. Avoid exposure to smoke as much as possible.
If you are visiting a location with high temperatures, be sure to stay hydrated and consume enough fluids.
Breathe easier with a better pharmacy
Alto Pharmacy is here every step of the way to make it easy to manage your asthma symptoms and prepare for travel. Our team of pharmacists is available to answer questions about your asthma medications, and we offer free, same-day delivery and medication management tools like reminders and auto refills in our app.
Reach out by phone at 1-800-874-5881 or in-app messaging to learn how Alto can support your asthma treatment plan.
This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.