Are you reluctant to take a family vacation because you have a child with asthma? Chances are, your family has had to alter its lifestyle in some instances, but overall, you try to make your child's life and that of your family as normal as possible. A family vacation is a great way to spend quality time together and share a fun and enriching experience. The good news is that you don't have to forego your trip because of your child's asthma. You do, however, have to do some planning and take some necessary precautions before and during your trip.

Destination and Accommodations

When planning your trip, the first concerns are where you will be going and where you will be staying. A key factor in your choice of destination is your child's asthma triggers. If cold weather is a trigger, you might not want to plan a ski vacation. Consider instead a biking vacation during a warmer time of year. If pollen is a concern, camping or hiking during springtime might not be a good choice. Beaches are usually not a big concern for asthma sufferers, unless sun allergies or eczema are triggers.

Where you stay takes planning as well. Make sure your hotel has smoke-free and pet-free rooms available. Stay away from inner cities where pollution is a problem. The chlorine in swimming pools may trigger an asthma flare-up, so ask for a room away from the pool. If you stay with family or friends, make sure they understand your child's needs. When necessary for your child's asthma control, ask that no one smokes in the house, that rooms are free of dust or fireplace smoke, and that contact with pets be limited.

If you are travelling abroad, be sure to research the area to determine climate, pollution, and availability of medical care. Make sure your medications will pass through security and customs and that your insurance will cover care wherever you go. And if your child uses an electric nebulizer, make sure you bring a voltage converter.

Trains, Planes, or Automobile

Consider the type of transportation you will be using. If you fly, make sure you have necessary medications in carry-on luggage in case your child has a flare up during the flight. With both plane and train travel, call ahead to see if you can be seated away from pets or service animals, and if your child has food allergies that can trigger an asthma episode, arrange to bring your own food or snacks. If you are travelling by car and your child is allergic to mold or pollen, be sure to clean the ventilation and air conditioning system and replace air filters. And of course, no smoking in the vehicle.

Health Management

Before you go, make sure your child has a complete checkup and that his or her asthma is under control. Other precautions and preparations include:

  • Make sure vaccinations are up to date, especially flu shots.
  • Create a list of all medications and related equipment your child uses, and check them off as you pack them so they aren't mistakenly left behind.
  • Refill prescriptions and carry them where you can easily get to them in case of emergencies. Make sure the medications are in their original packaging.
  • Consider bringing a portable nebulizer that is battery powered or that can be plugged into a car's cigarette lighter or power adapter.
  • Bring insurance cards, and have your child wear a medical alert bracelet or necklace in case he or she gets separated from you or you can't speak on his or her behalf.
  • If you don't have an Asthma Action Plan, create one with the help of your child's physician. It should outline his or her medications and treatments, triggers and how to avoid them, and what to do in an emergency.

Taking a family trip with an asthmatic child may be a bit more difficult, but entirely worth the extra challenges. No one know your child's disease, symptoms, and triggers better than you, so plan a destination and mode of travel that minimizes the dangers. Plan ahead, carry through, and enjoy your vacation!