Taking a trip when you have a debilitating chronic illness like COPD can be challenging, but with a little planning and preparation, it CAN be done successfully. You and/or any caregivers can use these tips to make the whole process go more smoothly.
1. First off, be sure you discuss your plans with your doctor. Your doctor can make sure you have a sufficient supply of any prescriptions. S/he can also tell you what to expect at various elevations, as far as the impact on your breathing, and prescribe supplemental oxygen accordingly. Your doctor can also make sure you are well enough to travel.
2. If you are on oxygen, you'll need to arrange to have oxygen available during your travel and when you reach your destination. If traveling on the ground, you'll need to make sure you have a travel canister that will last long enough to get you where you are going or that can be replenished enroute.
If traveling by air, there are all sorts of regulations and considerations that must be addressed. First off, check with the airline you are using to see what they require. At a minimum, they will probably require a doctor's note or prescription of some kind, as well as a specific type of battery-operated oxygen concentrator. Your oxygen supplier should also be able to help with this.
3. Allow plenty of extra time and rest periods. There is no doubt about it... travel can be tiring, even for a healthy person. For a person with COPD, it can be exhausting. You may need to travel in stages or take overnight layovers to make it easier to tolerate. Be flexible and patient. Getting stressed will only make things harder.
4. Keep moving while traveling. Although travel can be tiring, sitting in one position for long periods of time can lead to muscle cramps, blood clots in the legs and other issues. So, even if you're sitting in a car or a plane seat, try to get up and move around every hour or so. If nothing else, move your legs and feet around periodically and avoid crossing your legs. Keep your circulation moving!
5. Conserve your energy with an organized approach. Although leaving your home can mean changes in your daily routine, you can still pack in an organized fashion, so that your meds, personal care items and so forth are easily accessible. Combine rest stops to take care of both meals and toileting, to avoid multiple stops.
These are just a few suggestions that can help make travel not only possible, but tolerable, for most people with COPD. Remember, planning and preparation are the keys to success.