Travelling with severe asthma

Advice for travelling or going on holiday with severe asthma

Health advice > Severe asthma > Making life easier with severe asthma

Travelling with severe asthma may mean extra planning in advance. Find out about travelling with equipment like your nebuliser and travelling with reduced mobility.

On this page:

Can I travel with severe asthma?

Travelling and going on holiday with severe asthma is possible, it may just mean more forward planning.

It’s a good idea to speak to your healthcare specialist before you plan to travel. If you haven’t seen your GP or asthma nurse recently, get a review and check that your personal asthma action plan is up to date.

You will also be able to ask your GP about any travel vaccines you may need. If you are taking steroids, or have taken them recently, let them know, as this could affect when you can get your travel vaccinations.

Your doctor or asthma nurse will be able to provide a letter about your severe asthma and your medicines. You will need this, or a copy of your prescription, to take your medicines with you if you’re going on a plane.

We have lots more information about travel insurance and vaccinations before going away.

Travelling with reduced mobility

If you have severe asthma and find it hard to climb stairs, there are regulations in place to help make things easier for you when you are on public transport – like flying or taking a train.

If you’re flying

If you’re flying, you need to tell the airline of your mobility needs at least 48 hours before you fly ‒ ideally, let them know at the same time you book your flight. However, airports have help point locations where you can ask for assistance, even if you haven’t pre-arranged it.

If you’re travelling by train

Train operators also offer help to passengers with reduced mobility. You can book assistance for your train travel up to two hours before your journey is due to start. Find out more on the National Rail website.

If you’re travelling by coach

Coach services, such as National Express, provide passenger lifts for making boarding easier for wheelchair users. It is recommended that you contact National Express 36 hours before your journey to tell them of any assistance you may need. You can contact them on 03717 818181.

What help can I get?

If you have a carer or someone travelling with you, book assistance for both of you so you can stay together.

The kind of assistance you can ask for includes:

  • help getting to the boarding gate or around the station. Even if you’re mobile, there can be long distances to walk within airports, so ask how to book a wheelchair
  • help getting onto the plane, train, or coach. If you’re unable to climb the stairs, there are lifts available on planes and some coaches
  • help carrying reasonable amounts of luggage.

Travelling with your medicines

Your inhalers

If you’re flying, 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 see them.

Other countries may have different rules on carrying liquids on board a flight, so it’s important to check these rules with your airline and airports before travelling.

Your peak flow meter

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

Your nebuliser

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 nebuliser.

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. Check the airline’s policy on carrying and using nebulisers on board the plane.

If you have severe asthma or have recently been prescribed oral steroids, some airlines ask that you have a medical certificate confirming your fitness to fly.

Be prepared for emergencies

If you have severe asthma, you should be prepared for emergencies, like having an asthma attack. Before you travel or go on holiday, make sure you:

  • always have your reliever inhaler (usually blue) with you
  • take a list of emergency numbers you might need
  • have a written asthma action plan (on paper or on your phone) that lists details of the treatments you need in an emergency. It is helpful to give this to the people you’re travelling with and healthcare professionals if needed
  • if you’re going abroad, try and learn a few foreign phrases such as: “Where is the nearest emergency hospital?” You could also have these written down and kept with you
  • take extra medicine with you in separate bags in case any luggage gets lost.

More support

There’s more support and information to help you with travel if you have a disability. We also have more general information about travelling with asthma and going on holiday with a lung condition.

  • ABTA – Provide advice on how to book holidays that meet your needs at every stage of your journey.
  • GOV.UK – Provide a guide for people with disabilities planning to travel abroad.
  • CAA – Information about your rights when travelling by air.

For more support about travelling with severe asthma, you can call our friendly Helpline team on 0300 222 5800 (9am - 5pm; Mon - Fri). Or you can WhatsApp them on 07378 606 728.

Last updated April 2022
Next review due April 2025

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