10 Holiday Travel Trips for People with COPD

10 Holiday Travel Trips for People with COPD

Crowded airports – holiday traffic – unfamiliar winter roads – travel during the holidays can be stressful for anyone, but it can be especially challenging if you have COPD. Does this mean that people with COPD are homebound for the holidays? Absolutely not! With a little planning, preparation and the following travel tips, your holiday travel with COPD can go off without a hitch:

  1. See your doctor – Prior to making holiday travel plans, pay a visit to your doctor to make sure you’re healthy enough to travel. This is especially true if you’ve recently suffered from a COPD flare-up. If you’re traveling by airplane and don’t normally require supplemental oxygen, talk to your doctor about possibly needing it during in-flight travel or trips to higher elevations.
  2. Get vaccinated – Did you know you’re more likely to catch the flu when traveling, especially by air, train or bus when exposure to crowds is far more likely? Getting a flu and pneumonia vaccine (if your doctor says you need one) will protect you against illnesses along the way that may trigger a COPD flare-up.
  3. Remember your medications – Be sure to pack all your medications, including your inhalers, in your carry-on luggage or overnight bag. Ask your doctor for an extra supply of medications in case your trip home gets delayed. Keep a hand-written or printed list of all your medications in case you end up seeing a doctor for some reason during your trip.
  4. Prepare for bad weather – Although it’s a great idea to check weather reports before you travel, it may not be possible to predict future weather conditions if you’re going on an extended holiday vacation. Always pack clothes for cold weather, including a weather-resistant coat or jacket that will protect you against rain or snow and a winter scarf to wear over your nose and mouth to shield you from breathing cold air that may trigger symptoms.
  5. Give yourself plenty of time – Feeling rushed creates anxiety which may lead to increased shortness of breath and a worsening of COPD symptoms. Give yourself plenty of time to get where you’re going so you can travel worry and symptom-free.
  6. Don’t forget your statement of medical necessity – If you’re traveling with oxygen by airplane, check with the airlines to determine the type of statement you’ll need from your doctor detailing your condition and your need for supplemental oxygen during in-flight travel. Failure to meet airline requirements for traveling with oxygen may result in denied use of your portable oxygen concentrator during travel.
  7. Avoid COPD triggers – COPD triggers that may worsen your symptoms may be more frequently encountered while traveling during the holidays. When booking an overnight stay at a hotel, request a non-smoking room and floor. If allergens are one of your triggers, search for a hotel – like the Hilton – that offers allergen-free rooms. If smog is bothersome, avoid travel to smoggy regions like Los Angeles, Pittsburg or Phoenix. When visiting family, ask them to avoid lighting the fireplace or burning scented holiday candles that may irritate your lungs.
  8. Carry along an alcohol-based hand sanitizer – When traveling, soap and water may not always be readily available. That’s why it’s important to bring along an alcohol-based hand sanitizer (in the appropriate-sized container if traveling by airplane) and use it frequently to avoid excess germs that may cause an infection and a subsequent COPD flare-up.
  9. Remember the essentials – Make sure your Inogen One G3 backpack is filled with all your Inogen One G3 accessories including an extra Inogen One G3 single or double battery, the Inogen car charger, the Inogen AC power adaptor and extra nasal cannulas.
  10. Search for local help in advance – Look up names and phone numbers of local doctors and hospitals in case you need help along the way or when you reach your destination. Keep a copy of your medications, including your oxygen prescription, to give to any local providers.

With the Inogen One G3, visiting family and friends during the holiday season just got easier. For more tips on traveling with portable oxygen, visit Inogen’s travel section.

 

By Deborah Leader RN, BSN, PHN

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