Traveling Abroad With COPD

COPD doesn’t have to mean confinement to your home. Portable oxygen concentrators allow you to take your oxygen therapy with you anywhere in the world. With guidance from your doctor and the right equipment COPD patients can enjoy the freedom to travel abroad for vacations, business or to visit family. Here are some tips regarding traveling abroad with COPD.

Traveling Abroad with COPD

Can You Travel with COPD?

While COPD can feel like a barrier to travel for most patients, modern portable oxygen concentrators offer the same effective and reliable oxygen therapy as home units. Traveling abroad with COPD is certainly doable. With a portable oxygen concentrator and approval from a doctor most COPD patients are free to book trips, including international trips without concern.

How Does Altitude Affect COPD? 

Traveling to other countries may mean having to take high altitude flights. High altitudes can worsen symptoms of COPD as it requires more oxygen to breath normally. Use an FAA approved portable oxygen concentrator to support your respiration during high altitude travel and make sure your respiratory illness is within a safe range for high altitudes by checking with your doctor.

Tips for Air Travel with Oxygen If You Have COPD

Schedule an Appointment with Your Doctor

Let your doctor know you plan to travel abroad. Your doctor will know best if your COPD is not too severe for air travel. For most cases of COPD, a doctor will recommend proper supplemental oxygen use during your trip, including adjustments to your oxygen flow settings and even a recommended portable oxygen concentrator.

Carry Your Medical Records

Be sure to bring your medical records on your trip. If any emergency occurs, your medical records will inform doctors abroad about your medical condition. Even if traveling in a country where English may not be the native language, documentation can be translated and may be critical to your healthcare. 

Try Not to Travel Alone 

A traveling companion is always helpful when going abroad with COPD. Even though you may be fully capable of traveling alone with COPD, having someone else in attendance can help in an emergency. If you become incapacitated due to your illness, a friend or relative is present to act if you can’t.

Check and Review Your Insurance

Check in with your health insurance provider to review coverage for any medical needs while traveling abroad. Make sure your policy covers you if you need to see a doctor in another country for any reason. You may need to supplement health insurance to support your international travel plans if your policy only provides domestic coverage.

Carry a Portable Oxygen Concentrator

Select a reliable portable oxygen concentrator that fits the needs for your trip. Good portable oxygen concentrators (POCs) are small, lightweight, compact and FAA approved for travel. Many portable concentrators come with handy carrying cases that allow you to continue discreet oxygen therapy during an international flight. Make sure the portable oxygen concentrator you select meets your oxygen therapy prescription requirements.

Check for Your Medical Supplies and Nebulizer

Backup Supplies 

Take along extras such as connectors, nasal cannulas, and backup batteries for your portable oxygen concentrator to keep your trip abroad stress-free. Don’t forget any prescribed medications.


Pack a portable nebulizer as a quick fix for respiratory difficulty while abroad. Misted medicine can be a helpful aid for minor breathing problems, so you don’t always have to rely on supplemental oxygen.

Carry and Use a Pulse Oximeter

Take along a pulse oximeter to monitor your blood oxygen levels on your trip. Pulse oximeters are inexpensive and compact instruments that ensure that oxygen is saturating from your respiratory system to the rest of your body. It’s the easiest way to know when away from home if your COPD is causing a drop in blood oxygen levels.

Check all Oxygen Equipment

Nasal Cannula

Bring a new nasal cannula on your trip so you don’t experience leaks while you are away from home.


Batteries for portable oxygen concentrators give you power when none is available. Look for batteries with long life so you don’t have to recharge often. Make sure your batteries are compatible with your portable oxygen concentrator.

Exercise Your Calf Muscles

Your trip abroad may involve some walking. So, it’s important to get yourself limber for any extra physical activity, especially if your COPD has kept you inactive for a period of time. Be sure to exercise your calf muscles with stretches to ensure you don’t get cramps when walking about.

Prepare for Medical Care at Your Destination

You can think ahead to prepare for any emergencies by finding a doctor for a quick check up at your international destination. Find a doctor that speaks your language and can be informed ahead of time of your COPD before you arrive. A simple examination can give you peace of mind for the rest of your trip.

Where Can I Buy Travel Oxygen Concentrators for Traveling with COPD?

You can find portable oxygen concentrators at most medical supply stores. Or you can shop online effortlessly as you prepare for your trip abroad with everything you need at The Oxygen Concentrator Supplies Stop. Our knowledgeable staff will help you with the supplemental oxygen essentials for international travel.