Passport, Pills, Plan: The Ultimate CF Jet Setter Guide
Planning a weekend break, a long haul trip or just a family holiday has always been difficult with CF. After Covid, many patients are struggling with traveling again due to fear of the unknown.
For those needing to take a break, I have put together the ultimate CF travel guide.
What to discuss with your care team?
Before booking any trips, always consult with your care team. They may want to carry out a "fit to fly" test. This test is conducted ahead of any travel if your spirometry is low (usually below 40%).
A fit to fly test is painless and simulates the drop in oxygen you will experience at altitude to see how your lungs cope. Some airlines and travel insurance companies make this mandatory depending on your health conditions.
Once the team have given you the green light, ask them to fill out a medical travel document. This should include named conditions, current medications and any additional information (like fit to fly test results).
Where to travel?
The exciting bit first; find your destination(s). Then look at the country travel requirements such as visa and travel vaccines. It is good to keep in mind that some parts of Asia and countries with humid jungles or wet rice paddies can be at high risk for mycobacterium infections. Discuss this with your medical team if you have concerns.
Countries with poor sanitation aren't suitable for travelers to use tap water. Take this into account for washing neb pots too, or using sinus rinses. Always use bottled, distilled or boiled water to ensure hygiene.
Malaria and dengue fever can be a big pain in the backside when traveling in tropical climates. It is vital you speak with a pharmacist ahead of traveling to get antimalarial medications for the duration of your trip.
This leads me onto the next most important thing: travel insurance. Not always easy to come by with lung conditions but most definitely required. Always take into account the additional costs it adds onto your travel plans as it can be pricey.
When booking accommodation, consider if it needs to be ground floor or wheelchair accessible. Would you like it a short walk from the pools or beach? Does it have a fridge for medication storage or air conditioning for when your chest is tight in the heat?
What to bring?
Golden rule when packing is to make sure you have enough of your repeat medications. It is a good idea to take your rescue oral antibiotics on your trip too. I like to decant into dosset boxes to help save space.
It is crucial you carry all medications in hand luggage. For any fridge items, store them in a cool bag with original labels.
If you tire easily on walking especially when in hot, humid climates, then sometimes a wheelchair ride from one terminal to another is very much needed. Most airports like this to be arranged in advance, so always contact your airline ahead of your travel date.
Airlines have different policies for oxygen on board, enquire ahead of time to avoid any unforeseen issues with this too.
Always, always wear a mask on the plane and take hand sanitizer. I like to carry saline nasal sprays to keep my airways moist and if the flight is a long haul I keep my nebulisers handy to keep my treatment up.
And that's it, the ultimate CF travel check list to make planning your next trip a breeze!
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