1 in 20 people with asthma have severe asthma

Travelling when you have severe asthma

Planning ahead can help you feel more confident about trips and holidays when you have severe asthma.

In an Asthma UK survey, over half of people said their severe asthma held them back from travelling. So how can you make sure you don't miss out if you are feeling up to a trip? People with severe asthma tell us holidays and trips can make their asthma symptoms worse, so it's important to plan ahead for:

  • Changes in your everyday routine
  • Changes in weather
  • Coming into contact with triggers, such as pollution and pollen
  • Higher stress levels.

 This page has useful information to help you feel more confident about making plans and enjoying your time away:

You can also use this other page to find lots of useful tips and ideas about choosing the right trip for you, getting vaccinations, flying and carrying your asthma medicines abroad.

Being prepared for emergencies

If you have severe asthma, you may be more likely to need emergency treatment on a journey or in hospital if your asthma symptoms get worse or you have an asthma attack. Worrying about this, or about how your friends or family might cope, can put you off planning a trip. So it's vital you plan ahead for an emergency and talk to any travelling companions about it too.

,Before you go on a trip, make sure you:

  • Always have your reliever inhaler (usually blue) with you

  • Share a picture or copy of your written asthma action plan with your travelling group

  • Make a list of emergency numbers so you can get help quickly when you’re abroad. For example, health insurance, your doctor, the local hospital in your destination

  • Download a translation app or learn a few key phrases such as: “Where is the nearest emergency hospital?” in the language of the country you’re visiting to give you peace of mind before you set off

  • Get details of the treatments that would help you most in an emergency on to your action plan. Or take a copy of your emergency treatment plan with you if you have a separate one. You can hand it to the health professionals in A&E and get the treatment you need quickly.

Dealing with mobility issues at the airport

If you have severe asthma and find it hard to walk and/or climb stairs, there are regulations in place to make things easier for you at airports and on planes. You need to tell the airline about your needs at least 48 hours before you fly. Ideally, let them know at the same time you book your flight. Even if you haven’t pre-arranged it, airports have help points where you can ask for help, just be aware it may take a while to arrange, so arrive in plenty of time.

The kind of assistance you can ask for includes:

  • Help getting to the boarding gate. Even if you’re fairly mobile, there can be long distances to walk inside airports, so ask about how to book a wheelchair
  • Help getting onto the plane. If you’re unable to climb the stairs into the aircraft there are lifts available
  • Help carrying reasonable amounts of luggage.

Travelling with asthma equipment

Inhalers

You’re allowed to carry essential medicines such as inhalers in your hand luggage but you’ll need a letter from your doctor or a copy of your prescription. You’ll need to put your inhalers and medicines into the clear sealable plastic bags that are provided when you go through airport security in case the security staff need to examine them.

Other countries may have different rules on carrying liquids, so it’s important to check these rules with the relevant airlines and airports before you travel.

Peak flow meters

If you normally use a peak flow meter, take it on holiday so you can monitor your asthma symptoms while you’re away. If you’re flying, see our tips on flying with a peak flow meter

Nebulisers

Some people with severe asthma are given a nebuliser by their asthma specialist to use at home.

If you’re travelling abroad, remember that other countries may have different electric sockets and voltages, so you’ll either need an adaptor, or a battery-powered portable version.

If you’re flying, you’ll also need to talk to the airline if you’re likely to need to use your nebuliser during the flight – get permission to do so before booking your tickets. Most airlines allow battery-operated medical equipment such as nebulisers to be used on board but don’t allow ones that need a mains supply.

Some airlines will ask for printed information on the flight safety of the device (you can get this from the manufacturer). You won’t be able to use a nebuliser during take-off and landing.

 

 

Last updated March 2019

Next review due March 2022