With the vacation season underway, you may be preparing for an upcoming trip. We understand that traveling while managing a respiratory condition can be a challenge, so we’ve assembled a handful of tips to make you feel safe and secure while enjoying your time away from home.
Before You Leave
Be prepared. It’s a good idea to plan ahead for your vacation a couple of weeks in advance of leaving. We recommend talking to your doctor about your travel plans first to make sure it’s safe for you to go on your trip. Tell your doctor exactly how long you plan to be traveling, the form of transportation you’ll be taking, as well as your destination. The climate and weather of your destination could be a factor in causing potential flare-ups.
It’s also important to plan ahead for an emergency situation. We recommend doing research ahead of time to find out where the nearest hospital is from where you’re staying. If you find yourself in a situation where immediate medical assistance is needed, you’ll know exactly where to go without any hesitation.
Take along extras of all medications you might need to take during the trip. A basic rule of thumb is that if you think you have the perfect amount of medicine packed, bring a little bit more than that; it’s always better to be over prepared than under. Also, it may be a good idea to scatter your medication between all of your luggage as a hedge against lost or delayed bags in transit.
Traveling with a partner is not only extra fun— it’s safe, too. Ensure your travel partner is prepared and understands what medicines you need to take and how to properly handle delivery devices.
During the Travel
It's not only where you go, but how you get there— various modes of transportation have unique safety and comfort considerations.
We recently read a study that showed a 4% decrease in oxygen levels in airplanes at cruising altitude, despite the use of cabin pressurization technology. While this may not be noticeable to a traveler with healthy lung function, it could very well be enough to exacerbate a traveler with COPD. The Federal Aviation Agency (FAA) permits travel with portable nebulizers, such as Flyp, and airlines. Travelers requiring supplemental oxygen may also carry their own FAA approved battery-powered portable oxygen concentrators on flights - for a helpful resource, see this guide from Inogen, makers of the new Inogen One G5.
Traveling by car may be the safest way of traveling due to not being confined in the vehicle for an extended period of time. To mitigate air-quality concerns, it’s recommended to change your cabin air filter every 15,000 -20,000 miles. In areas of especially poor air quality or in heavy traffic, experts suggest driving with the windows up.
Sailing, anyone? Hopping on a cruise sounds like a worry-free trip, but it’s important to prepare ahead still as you may be restricted to the ship for an extended period of time. Contact the cruise line ahead of time and inform them of any oxygen-related needs. If you’re planning to travel with oxygen or a portable concentrator, you may need to coordinate approvals by the operations department of the cruise. This will likely require a note from your physician, so consider bringing this up during your pre-travel discussion.
Check Out These Vacation Spots
We hope these travel tips will help you enjoy a healthy and happy trip. All of this vacation talk left us daydreaming of a place far away. We’ve assembled a list of some of our favorite destinations (known for their clean air quality, of course). Bon voyage!
One of the more popular places to travel that is highly praised for its fresh air is Hawaii. Even the heaviest populated areas such as Honolulu will be healthy places to visit and even stay for extended periods of time. If you really want to get away from the cities, you can try going to the smaller islands of Molokai and Maui. The mountain ranges of these islands have some of the cleanest air in all of Hawaii.
Islands tend to have the cleanest air of all vacations because of their seclusion. Another great island vacation we recommend is the Canary Islands of Spain. This place takes you away from all big cities so you can focus on enjoying the surrounding Atlantic Ocean, clear skies, and fresh air that will keep you feeling relaxed and stress-free.
Go-green, in the mountains.
If you want to take a less exotic vacation and stay in the country, we recommend taking a trip to Burlington, Vermont. There are plenty of activities spanning from biking, hiking, parks, and beaches all within 30 miles of the city. The air quality is great for anyone with COPD and is ranked as having some of the cleanest air in the whole country.
For someone with COPD, traveling away from home can be a scary situation because a flare-up could happen at any time. However, you cannot let your disease control life. Taking advantage of some of the tips we provided may let you enjoy your vacation in peace. Preparing ahead of time for COPD-friendly trip may be that important step to make your vacation a paradise.
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