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Tips for Traveling While Living with ILD

Being diagnosed with interstitial lung disease (ILD) does not necessarily mean you need to stop doing the things you enjoy doing, like taking vacations or visiting friends and family.

The symptoms of ILD can create challenges when traveling. When planning and taking longer trips, it’s important to consult the healthcare team for advice. Whether you are traveling by car, bus, boat, train, or plane, it is still important to make arrangements that consider your condition.

Having a clear understanding of your destination, transport options, and any special requirements is important to make sure you have a healthy and happy experience.

Things to Consider When Choosing Your Destination

Sometimes places that you might want to travel to can be more difficult to visit if you have ILD. There are factors that can make certain destinations more challenging.

You should discuss your options with your healthcare team, the travel provider (e.g., travel agent or airline), and insurance companies to make travel plans that work for you.

Below are some examples of things to consider before deciding where you are going to travel to:

  • The altitude. At high altitudes, there is less oxygen in the air. This may make it harder to breathe. Therefore, you may need to have additional oxygen or adjustments to your current oxygen therapy when traveling to high altitudes.
  • The climate at your destination. Very hot or cold climates may make it harder to breathe or cause symptoms such as coughing or breathlessness to flare up.
  • The terrain. Walking uphill or on rough terrain is more difficult than flat roads or level ground. This extra effort may make your breathlessness worse.
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Quick Tip

Before planning a trip, always speak to your healthcare team to discuss your destination and assess any special arrangements you may need.

General Tips to Consider Before Planning a Trip

Going on a trip can be a great way to spend quality time with family and friends. However, it is important that you do everything you can to prevent any incidents that could affect your health.

  • Plan in advance. If you leave things to the last minute, you could forget something important. Think about how far you can walk, how many stairs you can manage, how accessible the toilets will be, and what transport you can use. Always check to see if your destination can accommodate people who are less mobile.
  • Think about your medications. Some people may have a variety of different medications they take to support their health and well-being. Be sure to remember to bring any medications with you, and bring extra in case your travel is extended. If you are going to another country and your medicine contains a controlled substance, you may need to prove that the medication has been prescribed to you.
  • Insurance. Always carry a copy of your health insurance card with you. You may also need a specialist medical travel insurance policy, as standard policies may not cover you if you need medical care. Speak to your healthcare team or insurance provider for additional guidance on the types of coverage needed.
  • Shop around. Different insurance companies have different policies for people with lung conditions, so find the best deal for you. Ask travel agents if they offer vacations for people with special requirements where your needs will be looked after.
  • Speak to your healthcare provider. Before you go, you should always speak to your healthcare team. They will determine if you need supplemental oxygen or adjustments to your oxygen therapy if you already have a prescription. They may also discuss the destination and any special requirements you will need.
  • Ask questions. Travel agencies, airlines, and other travel providers may have specialist teams to help people who are less mobile or have health conditions. Ask plenty of questions about your trip so that they can answer any issues or concerns you may have.
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Quick Tip

When traveling to certain destinations (and especially when flying), people with ILD may need to have supplemental oxygen therapy, even if they don’t need it every day.

Read & Learn, Icon

Find tips for traveling with supplemental oxygen in this helpful guide.

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