Friday, March 23, 2012

Asthma and travel tips for a successful vacation

Summer vacation is coming up. In an earlier blog post I talked about a few of the challenges of traveling and asthma. This time, we are going to look at asthma and travel tips for a successful vacation. She is keenly interested in traveling with asthma because both of her children are afflicted with the disease.

I am not a physician. I am just an asthma sufferer who is sharing some of the vacation tips that we have learned. In addition to myself, both of my daughters have the health challenge. They have exercise induced asthma and react differently to triggers than I do.

Occasionally one of my daughters will have a random attack from perfume or strong odors but most of the time it's exercise that brings on the symptoms. I react more to pollen, ozone and chlorine. This means that the asthma and travel tips for a successful vacation will need to be customized so that every person can enjoy the getaway.

Keep in mind that my use of the word exercise doesn't just refer to an extended all day hike. When traveling, exercise can also mean walking around a zoo or garden, swimming in the hotel pool, playing at the beach or even walking around a shopping mall.

Rainbow over Montana
One of my most successful asthma travel tips is to know what your symptoms are and to pay attention to your symptoms.

Malls can be tricky for me. Sometimes salespeople still spray the air around the cosmetic counters with perfume. A tickle in the back of my throat lets me know to reach for my inhaler. In a few seconds to a minute I'll be coughing my head off and in another minute I'll have problems catching my breath.

Successful travel with asthma also involves talking with  your physician to create an asthma action plan. This will tell you what to do if you have an attack while on vacation.

For our family, advance planning makes it possible to travel with asthma. It's been important to create an plan for traveling and asthma. We've worked hard to make this happen. It involves preventative inhalers and carrying a rescue inhaler. But, it also means using the rescue inhaler about 30 minutes before exercising (aka 'hitting the beach').

One of the asthma and travel tops that we have learned is to carefully select the vacation destination. Extreme heat or cold can trigger attacks for all of my family members. We try to avoid places that have high pollen counts or too much air pollution. Traveling north in the summer or going south in the winter seems to minimize the likelihood of an asthma response when on vacation.

Special filters (like the ones made by Lennox Air Filters) helps keep pollen outdoors and away from inside. The filters, combined with air conditioning, can also help on high ozone and pollution days. During pollen season, destinations with indoor attractions hit the top of our destination list.

One of the helpful asthma and travel tips is to research your destination right before you are scheduled to leave and to be flexible. Review pollen counts and pollution data for cities that you want to visit and pick out the one that works best for you.

For example, I wanted to go to Atlanta one year for a quick getaway. A quick online look let me know that the pollen levels there was off the charts. We changed our plans at the last minuted and headed to D.C. You know what? It was a great vacation.

Granted, it travel and asthma does take extra preparation but it's worth it. Taking a few extra minutes to chose the right location can save hours of frustration and can prevent a ruined vacation.