Having asthma shouldn't stop kids from enjoying a family vacation, sleepover camp,
or a trip with friends. With careful planning, they can get all the benefits of time
away from home.
Before you travel, make sure that your child's asthma is well controlled. If it's
been getting worse, check in with the doctor. Your child might need a change in medicines
or a visit with the doctor before going away.
What Should We Pack for Traveling?
When packing, be sure to include:
Medicines: Keep quick-relief
medicine (also called rescue or fast-acting medicine) and long-term
control medicine (also called controller or maintenance medicine) handy, not buried
in the car trunk. If you're flying, take them in your carry-on luggage. That way,
you'll have them if needed during the flight or if your checked bags go astray. Time
zone changes can be tricky. While traveling, try to have your child take medicines
at the usual home time. Upon arrival in another time zone, adjust the dosage times
to the local clock.
your child uses one, you might want to get a portable version. Many of these can be
plugged into a car's 12V accessory power outlet (or the cigarette lighter in older
vehicles). If you're traveling abroad, make sure you have the adapter you need to
Peak flow meter, if your child uses one.
Important information: Be sure to have your health insurance
cards and information, your child's asthma
action plan (that way you'll have the names of medicines, dosage information,
and your doctor's phone number, just in case). For travel abroad, consider taking
a letter from the doctor that describes your child's diagnosis, medicines, and equipment.
This can help you with airport security or customs. It's also a good idea to have
the generic names of all medicines, in case they're called something else in another
How Can We Avoid Asthma Triggers During Travel?
Triggers are everywhere, and your child may run into a few while traveling. Always
be sure to have quick-relief medicine handy in case of emergencies.
Here are some tips for the trip:
Traveling by Car
If pollen counts or pollution levels affect your child's asthma and are high during
your trip, travel with the windows closed and the air conditioner on. If your child
is allergic to mold or dust, run the air conditioner or heater, with the windows open,
for at least 10 minutes before getting in the car. This helps clear the air.
Traveling by Plane
The air quality on planes may affect your child's asthma. Smoking is banned on
all U.S. airlines' commercial flights, and on all foreign flights into and from the
United States. But rules differ on charter flights, so if you're taking one, ask about
their smoking policy and request seats in the non-smoking section.
The air on planes is very dry, so encourage your child to drink plenty of water.
Many airlines allow the use of battery-operated nebulizers (except during takeoff
and landing), but check on this in advance. Nebulizers aren't routinely included in
aircraft emergency kits due to their bulky size. But inhalers with spacers have been
shown to be as effective as nebulizers in treating asthma and might be easier to keep
handy during travel.
How Can We Avoid Asthma Triggers at Our Destination?
Your child's triggers will determine the best ways to avoid them and prevent flare-ups.
Watching Out for Weather Conditions
If pollen or air pollution are triggers and you're traveling to an area with
high readings, you may want to go during times of the year when pollen counts and
smog levels are lower.
If your child's asthma is well controlled, you should be able to enjoy sightseeing,
hiking, and other fun activities. Just keep the asthma triggers in mind when planning
what you'll do. For example, avoid lots of walking or hiking when air pollution or
pollen counts are high or in very cold and dry weather. If you're camping, keep your
child away from campfires. Ski vacations or hiking trips aren't out of the question.
But make sure you plan for plenty of rest (indoors if possible), and carry your child's
quick-relief medicine at all times.
Be prepared to change your plans if your child is struggling with asthma symptoms.
Staying With Friends or Family
Make sure any friends or family you stay with know about your child's asthma triggers
before you arrive. Although they won't be able to clear away all dust mites or mold,
they can dust and vacuum carefully, especially in the room where your child will sleep.
Because it can take months for animal dander to be effectively removed from a room,
even if a pet isn't allowed in it, you might not want to stay with friends or family
who have a pet if animal dander is a trigger for your child.
Renting a Room
If you stay in a hotel, ask if it has allergy-proofed rooms. Requesting a sunny
room away from the hotel's pool might also help. If animal allergens are a trigger,
request a room that has never had pets in it. And you should always stay in a nonsmoking
If you're staying in a rented cottage or cabin that's near the beach or in a forest,
ask that it be thoroughly aired out before you arrive.
Wherever you stay, consider bringing your child's pillow and blanket from home
so there's some hypoallergenic bedding.
Can Kids With Asthma Travel Alone?
If your child travels solo (to sleepover camp, to friends or family, etc.), talk
with the adults in charge. It's very important for parents, counselors, or chaperones
to have copies of the asthma action plan, a list of medicines, and all emergency phone
numbers. Also send written (and notarized) permission for them to care for your child
in an emergency.
Sit down with your child before the trip to go over the asthma action plan and
what to do in an emergency. Your child should know his or her asthma triggers, when
and how to take medicines, and how to recognize the signs of a flare-up.