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Respiratory diseases and travelling

If you suffer from a respiratory disease and want to breathe with ease on your holiday, you should plan your trip in advance.

Prepare for your trip in advance

When planning a holiday, pay attention to what condition the hotel is in and whether it has a ventilation system. Use services like Tripadvisor to see how other customers have rated the hotel.

You can also contact the hotel directly. We recommend that you choose a hotel that has a ventilation system with cooling and air filtration in the hotel rooms and common areas.

You should always take out travel insurance. Check the terms of your travel insurance carefully before going on a trip.

Ask whether the insurance covers emergency transport to your home country. You should also ask if the insurance covers medical expenses for a pre-existing respiratory disease or other long-term illness. If anything is unclear, you can request a personal appointment with the insurance company to go through the terms and conditions carefully in writing. You can take out the insurance from a private insurance company.

You should save the insurance company’s emergency number in your phone in case you fall ill.

You can order a European Health Insurance Card from Kela. It is extremely helpful as it allows you to access medical treatment in EU and EEA countries and Switzerland.

Read more about the European Health Insurance Card and healthcare within the EU.

Pack the following items for your trip:

  • sufficient medication
  • printed prescriptions
  • sleep apnoea machine (if applicable)
  • European Health Insurance Card.

If you are travelling far, remember the importance of sleep:

  • Prepare for the time difference in advance.
  • Wake up at roughly the same time every day. This helps you maintain a regular sleep schedule.

Flying with a respiratory disease

Respiratory diseases may require special attention when travelling by plane. The air inside the aircraft is thin because of the higher air pressure. This can cause breathing difficulties for people who suffer from respiratory diseases.

People with severe COPD or a rare respiratory disease should always ask for their treating physician’s opinion before travelling. You should also check with the airline whether it is possible for you to travel. Some airlines may require a medical report stating that you are fit for air travel. 

You should not skip your sleep apnoea therapy even when you travel. Without the machine, the symptoms will return after a couple of nights. If you are planning to travel by plane, you should get travel compliance documentation from the CPAP manufacturer in advance. The airport security personnel will ask for it during security control. You must carry the CPAP machine in your hand luggage, even if you do not plan to use it during the flight. The baggage scanners will not damage the machine. 

At the airport, the walk from one gate to another can be long. Many European airports offer assistance to disabled passengers and passengers with reduced mobility. Finavia recommends passengers to book assistant services in advance. Read more about Finavia’s assistance service.

Buying prescription medications abroad

You can buy prescription medications in other European countries if you have a printed prescription with you. In the future, it will be possible to purchase medicines with an electronic prescription from European pharmacies. This possibility was first introduced in Finland and Estonia, and in the future, it will be introduced in other European countries as well. In the future, it will be possible to purchase medicines, including medicines that require cold storage, at the destination. However, please note that having a Finnish prescription does not guarantee that the specific medicine will be available abroad. You cannot get a reimbursement for your purchase from the pharmacy directly. Instead, you need to make a claim when you return to Finland.

Learn more about the subject in Kanta Services.