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An airplane and in each window is a woman, oxygen, an inhaler, and a pill bottle

Travel Essentials

Traveling can be a stressful time for anyone. Having COPD and preparing to travel can seem like an impossible task. Not to mention the possibility of encountering the plethora of potential triggers to make breathing difficult while on holiday. Here are some tips to make your travel experience as smooth as possible.

Traveling with COPD

Make packing lists

I’m a planner. I like to plan things ahead of time. When preparing to travel, make packing lists ahead of time if possible to help prevent possibly leaving anything behind. Make different lists for different things. For instance, have a list of all of your medications, including those that you only take on an as needed basis. Make a list of any and all other necessities that relate to your lungs, such as your nebulizer and parts, if you have a home CPAP machine as well and anything you will need to go along with it. Then when you are packing, you can cross off each item as you pack it so the chances of forgetting anything drastically decreases.


Take some time to research the location where you are going, especially if it is a place you’ve never been before. Find out where the closest hospitals are just in case you might need to be seen if your breathing gets bad. If you are driving to your destination, also research as to where any hospitals are along the way. Better to be safe than sorry. Another important thing to research into is the forecast of your destination, then you can plan accordingly. If you’re traveling from a generally dry climate to one with a lot of humidity it might throw your lungs for a loop. Or you might find that you breathe easier!


If you are on oxygen, give your home care company a call to see what their procedures are to make sure you have enough for your trip and where to get more when needed. Also be sure to have enough supplies for your oxygen for the duration of your trip.

Air travel

If you are flying to your destination, carry on your medications and any medical supplies. This includes all oxygen and if you have a CPAP machine as well. With the pressure changes on the airplane in the cargo hold it could damage your necessary items. Call ahead and inform the airline you will be flying on if you will need assistance on the plane. Also, most airports have a service where they can help you get from the plane to curb and vice versa. Airports are huge places and can take a lot out of you when having to walk from point A to point B.

Be sure to tell your doctor about travel!

It is a good idea to call your doctor and let him/her know your plans. Having an open line of communication with your healthcare provider is essential. Ask for any refills you may need while you are talking with them, you don’t want to run out of your meds while away.

Have Fun!

Try not to let your COPD interfere with enjoying your vacation! Remember to rest when needed and take your time. Be prepared and mindful of potential triggers and how to manage them.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • mike1941
    2 months ago

    im still trying to get an answer to my question that im flying to Australia next April will flying or the heat affect my COPD thanks

  • Leon Lebowitz, BA, RRT moderator
    2 months ago

    Hi mike1941 and thanks for your post. I had thought you posted this elsewhere here on or, COPD Facebook, and I also thought I had responded to you there. In the meanwhile, we understand that you are concerned about your extensive travel plans and the affects the heat might have on your COPD condition. Are you planning this for April 2020?
    You must have an idea of how you manage with excessive heat in your current living situation. Does the air conditioning help you? Do you stay hydrated? These are some of the basic concerns of people who have COPD when they are exposed to the summer months.
    To help answer your question, I thought these two articles might provide you with some additional insight. First, this one which focuses on COPD and heat: And next, this one, which provides some tips for dealing with the heat: I do hope you find these helpful to read. You also may want to take this up with your health care provider for additional advice in your specific situation. Wishing you well, Leon (site moderator)

  • shebarker
    2 months ago

    I am a Respiratory Therapist that has worked in home care. There are many great suggestions in this article. I have a couple to add to help make a trip including air travel successful. Always check with the airline when booking to see if they require your doctor to fill out before you are able to fly. Most airlines require this paperwork, and I have seen many patients have to change their travel plans due to not being aware of this requirement. Also most airlines require that you have battery life of 1 & 1/2 times the expected maximum flight time. For example, if you are flying for 4 hours you will need 6 hours of battery duration. Knowing this ahead of time will help ease the stress of traveling.

  • Leon Lebowitz, BA, RRT moderator
    2 months ago

    Hi shebarker and thanks for adding your suggestions to this important aspect of managing one’s COPD. We appreciate your input.
    Leon (site moderator)

  • GlenysR
    2 months ago

    What do you do when travelling interfers with your regular exercise routine? Travelling can often involve lots of relatively idle time as you transit from place to place or in just socialising. I travelled overseas recently to visit family and friends which involved long hours of sitting in transit. I found breaking up the journey into activity sessions like just moving around whilst waiting for a connection or visiting other places enroute to my destination not only beneficial to my physical wellbeing but made the whole experience much more enjoyable.
    My normal daily routine includes at least 30 minutes of exercise some of which for me is challenging so I found ways to incorporate as much of these types of activities into my trip as possible like finding a local pool or gym, or just checking out interesting walking routes nearby.
    On my return home I found it easy to slip back into my regular exercise routine. In fact I was eager to do so as exercise has become such a vitally important and enjoyable part of my life.

  • Leon Lebowitz, BA, RRT moderator
    2 months ago

    Hi GlenysR and thanks for chiming in here. What great suggestions these are! There is actually so much down time (when traveling), that your advice can really contribute towards the success of the travel arrangements. Warm regards, Leon (site moderator)

  • Linnie
    2 months ago

    Our airport is so unimportant here in South Texas that you cannot get anyone to help you at all. They will take your luggage from the curb and put it on a trolley but that is as far as they go. They will not even get you a wheel chair to go from there into the airport and on to your gate which can be very far for someone with COPD and emphysema like me.

  • Leon Lebowitz, BA, RRT moderator
    2 months ago

    Hi Linnie and thanks for responding to this article. I’m sorry you have these challenges dealing with the airport of yours in South Texas. Perhaps you would be able to have a friend or family member come to the airport with you to handle some of these concerns you mentioned. What do you think? Leon (site moderator)

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