Traveling With Children with Asthma: Tips for a Safe and Enjoyable Journey

A family traveling in an airplane to their vacation destination.

It’s normal to worry about putting your child in situations that can trigger their asthma. After all, an asthma attack can be upsetting for everyone, even if it’s a minor one that’s easily managed with medication. This doesn’t mean, however, that you should avoid planning a trip with your child.

Traveling with children who have asthma doesn’t have to be much more challenging than traveling with children who don’t. All it takes is a bit of planning ahead and knowledge of what to do if there’s an emergency.

Packing: Thinking Ahead

One of the most important steps for planning any kind of trip is knowing what to pack — it’s even more crucial if you’re traveling with a child who has asthma.

You’ll want to speak with your child’s pediatric pulmonologist to know what medications you must take. You’ll likely need both quick-relief medicine and long-term control medicine, and you’ll want to have it close at hand. The last thing you want is to look through an entire suitcase when your child’s struggling to breathe.

You should keep in mind that if your child takes long-term maintenance medication, you will need to make the necessary adjustments if you’re traveling through or to different time zones.

While traveling, give your child the medications at the usual home time. Adjust the dosage times when you arrive at your destination.

For many children, getting the relief they need from asthma symptoms requires the use of a nebulizer. You need to carry it with you as you travel, but regular ones can be bulky. Instead, try a portable version. If you’re traveling abroad, ensure you have the right adapter.

Have all your child’s medical information on hand as well. You’ll want your child’s asthma action plan with you so that you have the names of all of the medications as well as your child’s doctor’s phone number and more.

If you’re traveling abroad, you may want to get a letter from the doctor that describes the diagnosis as well as the medications and dosages they take.

Avoiding Asthma Triggers While Traveling

It’s tough to avoid all triggers, but there are some ways to minimize your child’s exposure to them.

If you are traveling by car and pollen triggers your child’s asthma, you’ll need to know the pollen count throughout your journey. If it’s high, travel with the windows closed.

If your child is allergic to mold and dust, run the heater or air conditioner while the windows are open for at least 10 minutes before getting in the car.

Traveling by plane can be more of a challenge because of the air quality a typical airplane will have. Commercial flights into and from the United States all ban smoking in the cabin, but charter flights have different rules, so make sure to ask about this if you plan on taking one.

Because the air in any kind of plane is dry, encourage your child to drink lots of water. Some airlines allow the use of nebulizers, so you’ll need to ask about this. If the airline allows it, bring it into the cabin with you. Inhalers with spacers are another good option.

Avoiding Asthma Triggers at Your Destination

When you get to your destination, there are also some strategies you can rely on to avoid as many asthma triggers as possible.

Pay Attention to Weather and Air Conditions

Before you choose to travel to a location that experiences high pollen levels at some points of the year, it’s important to choose a time when those levels are not as high. The same thing applies to smog levels.

You must also consider the activities you do with your child. If pollen is an issue, walking through a park with lots of flowers in the spring or summer is generally not a good idea. You also want to avoid lots of hiking or walking in cold or dry weather.

If you are going camping, keep your child away from campfires because the smoke can definitely trigger an asthma attack.

Most importantly, you must always have a plan B if asthma issues arise.

Staying With Family

If you’re planning on staying with family or friends as you travel, make sure you let them know about your child’s needs. They won’t be able to remove all of the dust and other allergens from the home, but they can strive to keep your child’s room as allergen-free as possible.

If your child is allergic to pet dander, avoid staying with people who have pets because it can take months to remove all dander from a room — even if the animal no longer enters.

Renting a Room

If you’re renting a room, make sure to ask if they have any allergy-proofed rooms. If there’s a pool, request a room that’s far away from it. Also, make sure to always stay in a non-smoking room. Consider bringing your child’s pillow and blanket from home if they’re hypoallergenic.

Children Traveling Alone

Children who have asthma can travel alone, provided their asthma is as under control as possible. Make sure to let the adults around your child know about their special requirements and give them copies of your child’s asthma action plan.

Making Traveling Easier for Children With Asthma

To make the traveling experience as rewarding as possible, taking the time to speak with your child’s pediatric pulmonologist is essential. They can offer tips to help you plan ahead so that you can all focus on enjoying yourselves and not on worrying about asthma triggers.

At Newport Children’s Medical Group, we offer guidance for families who have children with pulmonary issues. Your child can receive the exact care they need, and you always have specialists ready to offer their support. Contact us at Newport Children’s Medical Group today.