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Asthma Center

Traveling and Asthma

A week at the beach with your best friend’s family? Your family vacation to Washington, DC? Or how about sleepover camp?

If you have asthma, you’ll be packing more than your clothes for these adventures. You’ll want to be sure that you have your asthma medicine and that you know what to do if you have any breathing problems while you’re away.

But asthma doesn’t have to get in the way of travel fun. Let’s find out how to be prepared when you’re out and about.

Pack Your Medicine

Having your medicine with you is very important. You’ll want to pack both your quick-relief medicines (also called rescue or fast-acting medicines) and long-term control medicines (also called controller or maintenance medicines).

Keep your medicines handy at all times. So if you’re traveling by car, keep them where you can get to them, not in the trunk. If you’re traveling by plane or train, keep them with you in your carry-on bag. If you don’t, and your luggage is lost, you won’t have your medicine. Even if your luggage isn’t lost, not having it with you on the plane or train means you can’t take it when you need it.

When you’re packing your medicine, pack more than you need. It doesn’t hurt to have extra. Your mom or dad can help you decide how much is enough.

Other Important Items

If you use a peak flow meter to keep track of how you’re doing, be sure to pack it, too. It’s also a good idea to bring along a copy of your asthma action plan with you. This plan will tell you what to do if you have breathing trouble and it has your doctor’s phone number on it, in case you need to call.

Home Away From Home

If you will be staying in a hotel, you may find that something in the room triggers your asthma. It’s best to have a sunny, dry room that’s away from the hotel’s pool. But you can’t always control where your room is. If animals trigger your asthma, ask for a room that has never had pets in it. Also, request a nonsmoking room. It might help to bring your blanket and pillow from home.

If you will be staying with friends or family, make sure they know about your asthma triggers before you get there. For instance, your grandma can limit dust mites and mold by dusting and vacuuming carefully, especially in the room you’ll sleep in.

Tell your hosts about any other triggers you have, such as scented candles or fire from a wood fireplace or woodstove. Speaking of smoking, no one should smoke around you. They should go outside.

Having Fun Outdoors

Keep your triggers in mind if you’ll be outside a lot. For instance, you don’t want to do lots of walking or hiking when the air pollution or pollen counts are high or if the weather is very cold. If you will be camping, you should sit away from the fire. Wherever you go in the great outdoors, carry your rescue medicine all the time.

Going Solo

If you’ll be staying somewhere — like camp — without your parents, you’ll have a little more responsibility for your asthma. The best approach is to have your parents tell the adults you’ll be staying with (such as relatives or camp counselors) about your asthma. Your mom or dad can tell them about your medicine and when you need to take it. You might ask them to help remind you about it — or to keep the medicine in a safe place.

Your parents can also tell the adults about your triggers, give them a list of instructions, and provide emergency phone numbers. All of this information should be on your asthma action plan, so if you have one, your parent could just make a copy.

If you think your asthma would be too hard for you to manage at camp, there may be a solution. In many parts of the country, the American Lung Association has special asthma camps that have nurses and doctors on staff as well as counselors. That way, if their asthma flares up, kids will get the care they need so they can go back to having all kinds of summer camp fun!

Reviewed by: Elana Pearl Ben-Joseph, MD
Date reviewed: January 2014