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Spring Break Preparation and Packing Tips

Traveling abroad with cystic fibrosis can be quite the adventure! While sometimes overwhelming, CF isn’t an excuse to stay put and miss out on new experiences. In my experience, having CF and all it entails is a great reason to book those plane tickets and enjoy some rest and relaxation. It might be just what the doctor ordered!

With a little preparation and extra attention to packing, everyone living with CF can have a healthy and enjoyable trip this spring break! Follow these simple tips to make the process easier and you’ll be on your way to your well-deserved vacation.

Consider a “tune-up” before traveling abroad

I don’t know what it is about impending fun that alerts the CF exacerbation bell, but it never fails! Every time I am close to leaving for vacation, my body waves the white flag and is in need of some back-up. Following a few weeks of home IVs, I usually feel better and am truly ready for my trip!

If you are somewhat like me and your CF has a mind of its own, consider scheduling a “tune-up”. A tune-up is a scheduled round of oral or IV antibiotics prior to your trip. I know it can be a hassle to take time out and surrender to the hospital and the effects of the antibiotics, but it may make a big difference in how you feel on vacation. That way, you can make sure you are at your best while traveling abroad!

Gather your documents

While airport security staff is often just doing their jobs, traveling abroad with large amounts of medications and unusual medical equipment for cystic fibrosis can make the security process daunting--especially internationally. Make going through security easier on yourself and plan to gather all your medical travel documents weeks before you leave.

I had a very unfortunate situation with airport staff in a foreign country last summer and found it most helpful to have the following documents ready to go:

  • Security and baggage policy for each airline
  • Explanations of medical devices such as the vest and nebulizers
  • Signed letter from your doctor stating which medications and devices you are traveling abroad with and why

Having thorough and easily accessible information will allow you to clearly advocate for yourself in those stressful situations!

Pack medications first

Always pack your medications, nebulizer cups, supplies, and medical devices first to ensure everything you need will fit. It’s helpful to sort pills into a weekly pill organizer to save space (I enjoy this one!) while having your prescription information available in the event they are checked by TSA. Once you're sure you have everything in the medical category packed away, then start on all the other items such as clothes, toiletries, etc.

Go mobile

When traveling abroad, go as “mobile” as possible with your medical care. If you have a mobile vest such as the Hill-Rom Monarch Vest, pack that for airway clearance! It’s extremely travel-friendly and convenient. Cordless nebulizer compressors are also a great way to make sure treatments get done while on-the-go. However, don’t forget the charging cords!

Another tip for sanitizing neb cups while traveling is to use baby bottle sanitizing bags. They are found at most grocery stores, are reusable, and only require a few minutes and a microwave.

Prepare for the unexpected

A lot can go right on vacation--sun, sand, and quality time. Unfortunately, a lot can go wrong as well. I always try to think ahead and prepare for the unexpected while traveling abroad with cystic fibrosis.

For example, it’s never a good idea to pack your medication in a checked bag that would get accidentally lost or sent to another destination. I like to split the daily necessities such as enzymes, insulin, pain medicine, and inhalers between my purse and carry-on in case I happen to be without either.

In addition, I’m always sure to pack a few days of extra medication and supplies in case anything were to happen and my trip home is delayed. Lastly, it’s also a good idea to pack oral antibiotics just in case you experience a change in symptoms and need to be treated while you are away. Hopefully thinking through the possible “what-ifs” will help secure you a happy, healthy and enjoyable spring break!

Happy travels!

Are you traveling for spring break this year? What are some of your best traveling tips? Share in the comments below.

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