Tips to Make Traveling with CF a Little Easier

Luisa Palazola avatar

by Luisa Palazola |

Share this article:

Share article via email

Traveling is stressful in itself, and CF makes the task extra complicated. Deciding how much medicine to bring and successfully making it through airport security can be a huge headache, so I’ve compiled a list of tips to help smooth out your traveling plans.

1. Bring all CF-related documentation, medication lists, and known allergies.

What does this look like?

I suggest traveling with a letter-headed doctor’s note that confirms you have CF, plus a list of all medications and treatments (and dosing!) that you take. You can easily store this information on your phone, but having a paper copy is always a good idea. For iOS users, Medical ID is really helpful.

Why is this helpful?

For various reasons! When traveling through airports, our machines and medicines sometimes raise questions and require an inspection. Usually, airport security is understanding, but it is always a good idea to have a confirmation, just in case. Also, having these papers while you’re out of town is a good idea should an emergency arise, as medical teams treating you will have immediate access to your medicines and contact info for your usual doctors.

Pro tip: If traveling abroad or for a significant period, it’s a good idea to find out where the nearest CF clinic is and to introduce yourself by phone or email.

2. Create a packing checklist.

What does this look like? I suggest breaking your packing checklists into groups. Start off with separate lists of your oral meds and inhaled meds. Then, a list of each machine (and its cords and counterparts), nebulizer cups, and sterilization accessories. Also add in alcohol swabs, hand sanitizer, gloves, car adaptors, etc.

Why is this helpful? It’s no secret that we’ve got a lot to travel with, which can become pretty intimidating when packing. Breaking down all your treatments, medicines, and machines into lists becomes helpful in sorting out what you’re bringing, and making sure you don’t forget anything!

Pro tip: To cut down on space, consider investing in a portable tea kettle to sterilize your neb cups for reuse.

3. Always take extra!

What does this look like?

Regarding medicines, it’s a good idea to be a little over-prepared rather than pack just enough. Pack an extra three days’ worth of medicines.

Why is this helpful?

You never know what might happen. You might accidentally spill a vial of Hyper-Sal or may just need an extra treatment during the day. In any case, it’s nice to have a safety net.

Pro tip: Packing your “CF stuff” into one central bag or backpack not only makes things easier, but you also know which bag exactly to always watch out for. Double tip: Packing medicines and ampules into ziplock bags creates a bit of organization and simplifies navigation through your CF bag.

4. Hand sanitizer, hand sanitizer, and maybe some more hand sanitizer?

What does this look like?

Alright, maybe not that much hand sanitizer. But keeping yourself and your space disinfected is important! I recommend traveling with a small hand sanitizer bottle, and to regularly wash your hands when able. Bring along some Lysol wipes to clean surfaces you may eat on (like plane tray tables) or to disinfect public armchairs. It’s not a bad idea to travel with a mask!

Why is this helpful?

The places frequented while traveling (airports, train stations, even gas stations) are visited by thousands of other travelers. The risk for getting sick is going to be higher because of the exposure to so many people and their germs!

5. Plan your airport navigation.

What does this look like? When traveling in an airport, you’re probably toting your Vest, your nebulizer, or some type of medical equipment. It may feel bulky, but that’s totally OK — these things are necessary.

Important things to keep in mind: When it comes to going through airport security, based on your level of comfort, it’s sometimes a good idea to pull everything out beforehand; otherwise, you may be pulled aside and inspected. If you’re traveling with a Vest, airport security will most likely examine it and ask questions about what it’s for. Either way, while it is nerve-wracking, you simply need to tell them a little about the machine in question and why you use it, then pull out your doctor’s note if necessary.

Pro tip: Airlines may ask if you want to check in your medical equipment because “there isn’t space on the plane” I recommend that you don’t. The flight attendants have a small cabin at the front of the plane where you can stow your things. You are not obligated to check in medical equipment if you don’t want to, and airlines are required to provide accommodations and assistance to those with disabilities. However, keep in mind rules regarding flying with supplemental oxygen. Also, because there’s always uncertainty when checking in baggage, I recommend you keep your supplies with you.

Safe and healthy travels!


Note: Cystic Fibrosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Cystic Fibrosis News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to cystic fibrosis.

Your CF Community

Visit the Cystic Fibrosis News Today forums to connect with others in the CF community.