Traveling with Asthma and Overcoming Travel Fatigue

I love to travel. Whether it be for work and asthma advocacy or a family vacation, I love to explore new places and experience new things. For those of us with asthma, traveling poses its own unique set of challenges both before, during and after your trip. While having asthma shouldn’t prevent us from traveling and enjoying the things we love to do, there are a few things that are important to do both before, during and after to help prevent flare-ups.

Before traveling with asthma

In addition to packing the essentials, we have to pack all of our asthma medications and nebulizer if you have one. I also always be sure to have my face mask with me for any unforeseen instances where I might be exposed to triggers. Even though I am very careful and stay alert to my surroundings as much as I possibly can, there is always the chance of something sneaking up.

Do a bit of research before you leave on your vacation as to the area where you will be visiting and staying. Watch the forecasted weather reports and look up where the closest hospital and/or urgent care is just in case you might need to seek medical care.

Give your doctor(s) a heads up that you will be traveling and make sure your asthma action plan is up to date and take a copy with you on your trip.

During your travels

Try to schedule time to take breaks (I’m a huge fan of naps!) as often as you can and don’t push yourself too hard. I love to go hiking but I take it slow when I need to and don’t always take the difficult more challenging trails. Stay hydrated even if you aren’t doing anything strenuous. If you are dehydrated your body will feel more sluggish and can lead to loads of issues.

After getting back

REST. Jumping right back into the swing of things after vacation poses a set of challenges, especially if your trip wasn’t a relaxing one. Taking time to rest and recover is so important. Have you ever heard the term, “I need a vacation to recover from my vacation?” This is so true!

It is not uncommon to feel completely exhausted after a trip and if we aren’t careful, it can flare up our asthma. Pay attention to your body and what it needs for awhile after returning home.

My recent experience traveling with asthma

Recently, I went on two trips back to back and ended up with pneumonia. For my birthday, my family and I went camping and hiking in the West Virginia mountains for two weeks. A couple days after we returned home I then traveled to Philadelphia for an advocacy conference for another few days. This particular conference is the highlight of my professional career every year. Being with others who are as pumped for advocacy as I am makes for an incredibly fun and rewarding experience (and very little sleep!).

Needless to say, I was absolutely exhausted and worn out once I returned home. After only one day off I returned to work, so my body didn’t have the time it needed to recover from everything. I learned the hard way the importance of taking it easy, even while traveling. Being a respiratory therapist myself, I should know better - but I am human. 

I wasn’t the best at listening to my body and I definitely suffered because of it. I took time off work to rest and recover (pneumonia isn’t fun!) and really took my time getting better and didn’t rush into going back to work at the hospital. I am so much better now and will definitely be taking it easy during and after any future trips I go on!

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