Travel with CF

Travel suitcase

So you’ve got itchy feet, and want to see the world!
There are few restrictions on people with CF travelling, but it does take some serious planning and forethought.

Things to think and make plans about:

  • Climate: There is no specific climate best suited for people with CF, but be aware that any change in climate could affect your lung function.

Note: tropical conditions in Northern Australia and Southern Asia are known to harbour a bacteria that is very detrimental to a CF person’s health, Burkholderia pseduomallei – Melioidosis.  Travel to these areas should be avoided during the wet, monsoon season. For more information about this life-threatening bacteria see the UK Cystic Fibrosis Trust’s guide on Melioidosis and Tropical Travel.

  • Terrain: Consider your ability to get around, especially in hilly or rough terrain.  Altitude can also vastly affect the level of oxygen and therefore your lung function.
  • Accommodation: Are facilities available for you to do your treatments? (electricity, refrigeration)
  • Flights: Although aeroplane cabins are pressurised to compensate for high altitude, the oxygen concentration is lower than at ground level.   Talk to your CF team to see if this deoxygenation will cause a problem for you.  You may need to consider taking an oxygen supply on the plane.  If you do need oxygen your CF team have the contacts to assist you with the arrangements, but remember to have all the qualifying paperwork, and approvals PRIOR to arriving at the airport, or they won’t let you fly.  All airlines have differing policies so check with YOUR airline what they require.
  • Medication: Plan to take all required medications with you, as they may not be available, or in the same form, where you are going.  Ensure that you have a letter from your Doctor outlining all the medication and equipment that you require and keep all medications in their original packaging, this helps you to clear customs.  Also check whether you require a medical certificate.
  • Equipment: Nebulisers and cleaning equipment, O2 concentrators, power supplies, battery packs and adaptors should all be considered when travelling.  Ensure that you have the correct adaptors for use in the countries you will be travelling to.
  • Insurance: Most insurance companies will not cover Cystic Fibrosis complications (as they are considered a pre-existing condition), but you should have insurance coverage for other mishaps such as lost luggage and travel disruption. Some of our members have had success arranging for travel insurance to the US via the travel insurance brokers www.healthinsurance.co.nz. They consider CF on a case by case basis, and may approve cover for medical and evacuation. All queries are reviewed by Bupa’s medical assessors so that there is no confusion about the coverage.
    The insurance is for worldwide travel, and for those under 37 costs US$4.50 a day with an admin fee of $42. Over the age of 37 costs US$6.80 up to the age of 70. For more information contact Sandra@healthandtravel.co.nz.

CFNZ has produced a Travel Guide for People with Cystic Fibrosis, which goes into more detail.