As a parent of a child suffering from asthma, any planning of a family trip requires further thought and planning. From personal experience you can plan a lot but still have to be prepared for surprises. Allergic factors in one country may be morbid in another country, and weather can always surprise.
So the secret to a successful trip is to prepare for the worst in advance and start your vacation in a calm mind. In no case should the treatment be stopped due to the trip and It does not matter if the weather at destination is ideal and the travel period is not during the transitional seasons.
Preparation for taking an asthmatic kid on a trip abroad
Don't stop treatment during vacation
If your child is receiving long-term care or preventive treatment, make sure that the treatment is not interrupted during the vacation. If you are considering stoping the treatment during the vacation, please consult your child doctor before deciding.
Asthma action plan
Make sure to prepare a Asthma Action plan that tells you what to do if your child symptoms start to get worse. Your Action Plan should be individualized based on the medications they take, their best peak flow measurement, and their medical history (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 by a different name in another country). You and your child health care provider can work together to develop the plan. In case you don't know how to do it, you can download a draft from below sites:
Before making any plan, the first thing we need to do is make sure the asthma of our children is under control. To do this, we must take our children to the doctor for checkup in order to assess the current asthma situation. Don't forget to consult him about the planned destination in case we need to take further care. Be sure to get from your child's doctor, a medical history letter that includes a list of medicines, known allergy list and any additional medical detail that is required in an emergency.
Make sure to go over your child Asthma Action Plan with his attending physician and fix it if necessary.
Reminder list - Don't forget to:
- Evaluate asthma current condition
- Consult for additional precaution per destination
- Get medicine prescription for the entire stay (buy them before the trip since they can be used only in your country of origin)
- Ask for a medical history of your kid asthma and list of medication
- Prepare Asthma action plan
Make sure you take an insurance which will cover your child asthma without any restriction.
Medical facilities per destination
Find out which medical facilities are available at our destination. Keep their details within reach.
Taking medicine supply
Now that we have received confirmation that our child's asthma is stable, we can start planning, and most importantly is to start with our children's medicines. Our focus is on both quick and long-term care, and taking both of them with us to the plane. We have to make sure we carry their medicines in our handbag and split the rest of the medicines between our suitcases. In the case of a car ride, we must keep the medicines with us and not store them in the trunk.
Taking nebuliser & puffer and spacer device
Most asthma patients need either a nebuliser or a puffer and spacer device. In the case of a nebuliser we may prefer to take a portable nebuliser which works on batteries and it can be plugged into the car's electricity. In case we take our home nebuliser we must make sure we have the appropriate power outlet per destination we plan to visit.
Portable nebuliser devices from Amazon (we're affiliate partners of Amazon):
- Portable Steam Inhaler Personal Vaporizer Handheld Machine for Kids and Adult with Rechargeable Batteries
- Hustore Handheld Steam Inhaler, Portable Personal Ultrasonic Nebulizer, Cool Mist Inhaler kit, Ideal For Kids, Adults and Daily Home Use
- FEELLIFE Rechargeable Portable Mesh Travel Steam Inhaler Air pro3, Hand held Cordless for Kid Adult
What Should We Pack for Traveling?
- Medicines – split between hand luggage and spare supplies in our suitcase.
- Nebulizer or puffer and spacer device
- Asthma action plan
- Medical history letter
- List of medical facilities per destination
- Travel health insurance card and information
- Take along a dust-proof pillow and mattress cover. This can protect you from unfamiliar allergens on hotel beds.
Avoiding Asthma Triggers
In order to avoid asthma triggers during travel by car or by plane, below are the most common recommendations for precaution when:
By vehicle: If the pollen count or infection levels affect your child's asthma and are high during travel - travel with the windows closed and the air conditioner on. If your child is allergic to mold or dust, turn on the air conditioner or fan, with the open windows, at least 10 minutes before getting into the car. It helps clean the air.
By plane: Air quality in airplanes can affect your child's asthma. Smoking is currently prohibited on most flights. But the rules are different on charter flights, so if you take one, always ask about smoking policy and if allowed to smoke on a flight, remember to ask for non-smoking seats.
The air on the planes is very dry, so the child should be encouraged to drink plenty of water. Many airlines allow battery-powered devices (except during takeoff and landing) but need to check ahead because each airline applies their own rules. Nebulizers are not routinely included in emergency aircraft kits due to their bulky size. But inhalers with spacers have been shown to be as effective as nebulizers in treating asthma and may be easier to maintain during the ride convenience.
At our Accommodation
If you know what your child asthma triggers are, it’s a good idea to prevent them when ordering a room. most common requests you should ask for include:
- An allergy-proofed room.
- Sunny room away from the hotel's pool.
- Room that has never had pets in it.
- Nonsmoking room.
- Ventilate the room.
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At our Destination
If pollen or air pollution are triggers - Try traveling during time of the year in which pollen counts and smoke levels are lower, in general, try to avoid traveling during transit seasons.
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.
Most important is to be ready to change your plans if your child is struggling with asthma symptoms.
When 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.
When your kid travel alone?
If your child travels solo (to sleepover camp, to friends or family, etc.), talk with the adults in charge. Make sure he will have a copy 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.