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Going on holiday

Practical issues when going on holiday with a lung condition

On this page we explain the practical issues you might face when planning or going on holiday with a lung condition. This includes arranging travel insurance, sorting out your medication and a useful checklist of things to consider.

Arranging travel insurance

You should arrange full travel insurance for yourself before going on holiday abroad. If you’re travelling with a friend or family member, check they are fully covered too. By taking out travel insurance you can avoid huge medical bills if you are taken ill or if you have an emergency during your trip. Look into the cost of this well in advance as you may find it’s too expensive or you may need to find a specialist provider.

Make sure your insurance policy covers all your medical conditions. You need to have the right insurance for your individual circumstances – there isn’t one insurance provider that is the appropriate choice for every person with a lung condition. If you don’t declare relevant medical information to your insurance provider, your policy may not be valid, leaving you facing a huge medical bill if you are taken ill while on holiday.

When you’re travelling, keep your travel insurance documents in a safe place, such as your hand luggage. On reaching your accommodation, put them in a secure place like the hotel safe. It’s a good idea to leave a copy of your insurance policy details with someone back at home, in case they need to contact the insurance company on your behalf.

Useful links:

  • Safer Tourism Foundation has information about travel insurance essentials, including things to consider when choosing a provider.
  • Money Helper has guidance for buying travel insurance if you’re over 65 or have a pre-existing medical condition. It includes a directory of contact details of providers who specialise in providing insurance for people with serious medical condition.

My advice is to shop around. And always check the insurance terms and conditions, such as when the insurance kicks in from – it may not cover the entirety of your holiday!

Check out Gordon's advice about finding travel insurance with a lung condition.

European Health Insurance card (EHIC) and Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC)

The European Health Insurance card (EHIC) gives you the right to access state-provided health care while travelling in the EU.

From 1 January 2021 (post-Brexit), the EHIC is being phased out. It’s being replaced with the new UK Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC). The GHIC gives you the right to access state-provided health care during a temporary stay in participating countries.

If you currently have an EHIC you can use it in the EU until the card expires. You don’t need to apply for a GHIC if you have a valid EHIC. Once your EHIC has expired, you should then replace it with a GHIC.

The EHIC and GHIC are not replacements for travel insurance. Make sure you always travel with comprehensive travel insurance that meets your needs.

Read more about EHIC, GHIC and how to apply on the NHS website.


Plan ahead

Give yourself plenty of time to organise medication for the duration of your trip. If you take prescription medication, you should discuss your trip with your GP or practice nurse at least two months before you plan to travel. You may need to ask for extra medication to cover potential delays or emergencies. If you have a rescue pack, take this away with you too. If you don’t have a rescue pack, discuss with your GP whether you need emergency antibiotics.

Check what’s allowed

Different countries have different rules about the types of medication they allow to be taken into the country, and the maximum quantity you can take in. Make sure you check the rules for all the countries you’re going to, even if you’re just passing through them.

Some prescribed medicines contain controlled drugs and may require a personal licence to take abroad. Find out more about travelling with controlled medicines on the website

Flying with medicine

If you’re flying, you should carry your medicine and any medical equipment in your hand luggage, along with a copy of your prescription. You can only carry liquids in your hand luggage if they are in containers that hold less than 100ml and are displayed in a clear re-sealable bag, less than 1 litre in volume. If you can’t fit all your essential medicines into this bag, or if they’re supplied in containers larger than 100ml, you may still be allowed to carry these in your hand luggage. Contact the airline and airport to let them know you need to carry additional liquids and ask for any requirements they have to allow you to do this. Don’t forget about the airport you’ll be making your return journey from too.

Top tips

  • Check the expiry dates for your medication will be valid for the duration of your holiday.
  • Some medicines need to be stored at room temperature or lower. If you’re travelling somewhere hot or need advice on how to keep you medicines cool, talk to your GP or pharmacist. They might advise you to store your medicines in a thermos flask or cool bag.
  • If you’re given medication abroad, check whether it can be brought back into the UK. If you’re in any doubt, declare the medication at customs.
  • It’s a good idea to travel with a copy of your prescription and a letter from your GP that confirms the details of your medicine and the health condition you need it for. As well as helping you avoid any issues at customs, it will be useful if you need medical help while you’re away. You could get this information translated into the language of the country you’re visiting. Your GP may charge for writing this letter, as they’re not required to do this under the NHS.
  • Take a photo of your passport, prescriptions and insurance policy details to keep on your phone – so you always have a copy with you!

Check out our holiday checklist

We use your comments to improve our information. We cannot reply to comments left on this form. If you have health concerns or need clinical advice, call our helpline on 03000 030 555 between 9am and 5pm on a weekday or email them.