Travelling with CF

Planning your holiday

Travelling overseas is an exciting prospect - it's a big world out there with lots to see! Travelling with a medical condition like CF means that you may need to do some extra preparation and planning before heading away on that trip, to make sure you have a fun, hassle-free time away.

Some travel destinations present unique challenges for people with CF (PWCF) such as travelling in countries with hot climates, and some tropical regions, so please discuss your travel ideas with the CF team before booking your trip.  

Travel Insurance

There can be some difficulties for PWCF obtaining travel insurance that covers CF. If you are able to get cover for CF related problems as well as general travel insurance it can be reasonably expensive. For this reason, you may want to consider travelling to countries that offer reciprocal health care to New Zealanders. At present these countries are Australia and the UK. There is information on what is covered by these agreements on the Ministry of Health website.

Medication and Nutrition Supplements

When travelling, we recommend you keep a couple of days worth of medication in your hand luggage in case your bags go astray! That way you will have medication available and time to either get more meds, or for your bags to turn up without running out. If you take nutritional supplements, speak to the CF dietitian about the best way to arrange a supply of these while overseas. Travel can be demanding and tiring and keeping ahead with your nutrition can help you stay energised and well during your holiday. 

Your CF team can provide you with a letter to show customs & security regarding the medication you will  have with you. This is especially important if you have syringes/needles, or equipment such as nebulisers with you.  

Travel Vaccinations

Depending on where you are travelling, it may be recommended that you have vaccinations prior to travelling. Some vaccines need to be given well in advance of your travel, so it pays to get onto this early. Your GP can advise you what vaccinations are recommended for the countries you are travelling to. Travel vaccinations are not funded. 

Might you need Oxygen when flying?

When flying on aircraft, there is less oxygen available in the air in the cabin - 15% oxygen compared with 21% oxygen when on the ground. For most people with normal oxygen saturations, this presents no difficulty. If your oxygen saturation at sea level are 94% or below, it is likely you will need oxygen while on the aircraft at altitude.

If you do need oxygen, the airline you are travelling with will require a medical certificate from the CF team, stating that you are fit to fly and how much oxygen you need. Some airlines provide oxygen (at a cost) and most will allow you to carry an airline approved portable oxygen concentrator that runs off a battery to deliver oxygen while in flight.

It is really important to talk to the CF team before booking your flights to see whether you may need to fly with oxygen. Sometimes the cheapest airline ticket may not end up so cheap if the airline charges a lot for oxygen!

Useful Sites

Official NZ Travel Information

CFNZ Website - Travel for people with CF 

Travel Insurance the basics ​

Travelling with CF
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Page last reviewed: 28 April 2014
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