Traveling With Asthma: Part II

Nancy Sanker Health Guide
  • Traveling to foreign lands….

    Traveling abroad takes extra preparation, but yields extra-special memories. Let’s make sure yours are positive! Since some overseas flights allow smoking contact the airlines well in advance and request a seat away from the smoking section.

    Know the generic name of medications in case they need to be replaced. If you use a nebulizer, remember to take an adapter. Pollen and pollution exists outside of the United States so become a detective and investigate before you leave. Our family has experienced success and disaster. My son did his homework and discovered his sources were right. Traveling through Eastern Europe in winter when the air is coal-polluted can be a nightmare for the unprepared visitor with asthma. But he and his wife found out the hard way that pollen in Poland in August can make sight-seeing a blur. Effective over the counter medications were impossible to find.
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    Preparations for travel abroad will be easier if you contact the International Association for Medical Assistance to Travelers. Membership is free, but donations are appreciated by this non-profit organization and in return you will receive a directory of English speaking physicians worldwide who have been trained in the U.S., Canada or the United Kingdom. The IAMAT also provides forms for your personal clinical records, immunization information for specific countries and worldwide climate charts.

    To donate, become a member and download the above information, visit For more information or to join via snail mail, contact:

    International Association for Medical Assistance to Travelers

    417 Center Street

    Lewiston, New York 14092

    Phone – 716.754.4883

    Good night and sleep tight…

    At the end of a busy day, every traveler needs a restful night’s sleep, but sometimes that’s a challenge for the person with asthma. Planning ahead can make a difference here too.

    1. If possible, take your own pillow. If not, take a protective pillow cover. If you will be staying in a cabin, take your own sleeping bag or at least a bag liner.

    2. When making hotel reservations, ask for a smoke-free and even pet-free room, if available. Also, request a room far away from the chlorine-packed pool.

    3. Are you staying in a home with pets? When your host says, “Don’t worry, I’ll keep Chessy, the cat out of your room,” don’t be pacified. Pet dander lingers. Try to find another place to stay or pre-medicate, according to your allergist’s recommendations. Also, check to see if your home-away-from-home is smoke free.

    Breathing is basic…

    Once again, planning is your key to successful travel Know about your triggers and consider them as you plan your adventure. Will pollution or pollen be an issue? Visit to check on current pollen counts. Camping during ragweed season makes some individuals yearn for home – who needs that kind of vacation? If you are planning on staying in a cabin or tent ask about mold or dust mites. Depending on the answer and the level of sensitivity, you can either change your plans, pre-medicate (according to your asthma action plan or ask that the site be aired out before your arrival.

  • Hiking, walking and skiing can be miserable if pollution or pollen is high or if the weather is extremely windy, dry and cold. A protective mask may be helpful while skiing. Remember to have rescue medication available at all times. If it is cold, keep the inhaler close to the body so it stays warm.
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    When your child is on his own…

    Sending your child with asthma off to camp or an extended sleep-over can be daunting for everyone involved. Boy Scout camp was scary for me, but what a memorable and empowering experience for my son! You will feel better by being prepared, involving your child and doing some role informal playing to insure your child knows how to respond in a variety of situations.

    Talk to the counselor or chaperone in advance. He/she should have a copy of your child’s asthma action plan, list of medications, emergency phone numbers and written/signed permission (this may need to be notarized) to care for your child in an emergency. Before your child leaves, review his asthma action plan, remind him of his triggers and have him repeat what he would do if he started to experience a flare. These are the new “three R’s.”

    If possible, arrive at camp early so you have time to meet key personnel and introduce your child to them. At the end of the successful experience remember to say “thank you” to the staff for their exceptional care with a letter or token of your gratitude.

    Whether you are vacationing as a family or sending a child off on a solo experience, memories are there, just waiting to be reviewed, relived and relished for years to come. Careful planning is your key to success. And most of all, remember to have fun!
Published On: July 07, 2006