Choice of vacation for patients with respiratory diseases

Everyone loves to travel and explore the world in the summer. Holidays offer a wonderful opportunity to relax, have fun and get to know new cultures. People with respiratory diseases do not have to miss out on the fun and relaxation that a holiday can offer. A trip with friends, family or a caregiver can be a unique experience.

Key factors in choosing a respiratory-friendly holiday destination are air quality, climate and access to doctors. For example, destinations at high altitude, remote destinations without immediate medical facilities and difficult means of transport should be avoided.

In principle, it is important for chronically ill respiratory patients to travel with hygiene awareness in order to minimize exposure to germs and bacteria. A visit to zoos and animal parks can be tempting during a holiday, but can also quickly trigger allergic reactions. Also, smoke from campfires can worsen the symptoms of COPD and asthma. Our tip: Even from further away, a campfire can brighten up dark holiday nights.

Seaside vacation

Lung diseases are often accompanied by breathing difficulties, scarring in the lung tissue, persistent coughing with mucus formation and other problems. This often prevents or at least makes it more difficult to perform intensive physical activities. Depending on the severity of the disease, however, patients still have the opportunity to enjoy the charms of the sea without having to strain themselves too much during typical activities such as swimming, surfing and other water sports by the sea.

During a walk on the beach, one can enjoy the wonderful fresh air and soothing relaxation. Sunbathing can also promote the production of vitamin D and improve immunity to lung diseases. Medical research has found that patients with existing lung diseases can benefit from sun exposure and vitamin D. It has also been scientifically proven that clean, salty sea air helps fight sinus infections, reduce mucus formation, reduce wheezing and sinus pressure, soothe coughs and relieve asthma and bronchitis.[1] Sea air serves as a tonic for the lungs and the entire respiratory system.

People with lung diseases often prefer a warm climate with salty air, as is for instance the case in the Mediterranean region.


A cruise by ship also offers permanent proximity to the sea and creates unforgettable holiday moments and exciting adventures. A special advantage: ships have a medical station to treat emergencies. Caution is advised, however, as the medical facilities on board can also be limited. This depends on the size, the route, the length of the cruise and the demographic situation of the passengers.

Due to weather and environmental conditions, respiratory diseases are the most common medically treated illness on cruise ships. Therefore, affected patients on cruise ships must report their illness in advance and inform themselves about restrictions and the special considerations for people with chronic health problems.

City trips

When choosing a city, special attention should be paid to how the medical care in the city is organised before the start of the journey. The availability of doctors is also of particular importance. Depending on the country of travel, conditions here can of course vary greatly.

Geographically, cities in coastal areas are usually recommended, as they offer the purest air with less pollution due to their proximity to the sea. In return, cities with high levels of particulate matter or exhaust emissions should be avoided as far as possible.

Due to the high pollution levels after a warm summer, in our regions city trips should be avoided in autumn.

Vacation in the mountains

At higher altitudes, breathing difficulties can become worse due to lower oxygen levels. Changes in air quality can quickly make it difficult for people with COPD to breathe. If you feel the same, you should check the air quality at your destination before you leave. Information is available from online weather reports, but look for reliable sources such as the real-time air quality index.

However, it should also be noted that in mountainous areas (from about 1600m) the pollen load is lower than in flatter areas. Patients with allergic asthma might benefit more from such a region.

Asthma/COPD accommodations

In addition to climatic health resorts, there are also offers specifically aimed at asthma and COPD patients. These are holiday homes that are tailored to the needs of people with respiratory diseases. For example, Landal GreenParks [2] offer exactly this possibility. The accommodations are equipped with a smooth floor covering such as laminate flooring or tiles. Furthermore, the guidelines of the Asthma Fund have been followed in the choice of fabrics for curtains and furniture. The holiday homes are also smoke and pet free and in some parks there is no fireplace in these accommodations. The COPD accommodation is also cleaned in accordance with specific instructions. Everything for a carefree stay that you can enjoy. So holidays are a matter of course for you too!

Air quality abroad

Air pollution is a health concern for everyone, as it can minimise life expectancy and cause lung and breast cancer.[3] Clean air should therefore be a priority during a holiday, with or without lung disease. The Real-time Air Quality Index and the Air Pollution Index shows the current data on air quality worldwide.

However, it plays a special role especially for patients with chronic lung disease. Air quality is a major factor in the ease with which people breathe. The degree of industrialisation at the holiday destination plays a major role here, as it has a particular influence on air quality. [4] Air pollution and emissions today represent a serious risk for people with chronic respiratory diseases. COPD or asthma patients should therefore avoid extreme temperatures or places notorious for polluted air.

The good news is that many destinations promise clear air. For your next holiday, we present three beautiful places where you can take a deep breath, relax, enjoy hiking and experience an unforgettable adventure.

1. Copenhagen

Copenhagen is the capital of Denmark and the country’s largest city. The city has been ranked second in Europe [5] by Friends of the Earth in terms of air quality and environmental friendliness. The city offers wonderful places to enjoy your holiday. You can visit the Tivoli Garden, Christiansborg Castle, the rich cultural history in the Danish National Museum, the sculpture of the Little Mermaid, the Danish National Gallery and the Round Tower. No matter where you go in Copenhagen, the quality of the air for safe breathing is noticeably pleasant everywhere.

2. Santa Fe, New Mexico

This destination is well known for its air quality, but also for its art galleries. The city’s 188,210 inhabitants enjoy the full benefits of air quality thanks to its 1.5 million hectares of national forest. Because of it, Santa Fe has always enjoyed the recognition of the American Lung Association (ALA) for safe ozone levels, claiming low levels of smog and pollution. This charming city is a fascinating place with a rich history, an up-and-coming restaurant scene and long sunny days.

3. Honolulu, Hawaii

Who hasn’t always wanted to go to Hawaii? Honolulu is not only a popular holiday destination for adventure. Indeed, the island’s isolation in the middle of the Pacific Ocean makes it safe from pollution and offers relief for the lungs. Honolulu lies 2,000 miles off the North American mainland. This makes it impossible for particles emitted by coal combustion to reach Honolulu. So enjoy the hospitality of its 907,574 inhabitants, the Pacific breeze and marvel at the natural scenery of a paradise on earth!

Special remarks

Please always remember: A long flight can increase the risk of deep vein thrombosis. In addition, the body needs time to get used to water, food, air and other conditions in other places. A holiday abroad may require vaccinations or medication to prevent certain diseases. However, this may depend on the area, the season, age and state of health.

Planning a holiday requires adequate preparation to meet special needs.

  • Travel with a copy of your medical records, medical reports and prescribed medication. Carry a list of names and locations of a doctor and hospital at your destination.
  • Make sure oxygen cylinders are delivered before departure. Alternatively, you can call the airline regarding their policies and procedures for personal oxygen equipment.
  • Avoid traffic fumes and allergens by keeping the windows closed if possible.
  • Ensure a smoke-free environment: Choose a non-smoking hotel or ask for a non-smoking room.
  • If you are staying with family or friends on holiday, ask politely that they do not smoke near you and only smoke outside.
  • If strong odours aggravate your symptoms, avoid staying in a hotel room with fragrant soaps, lotions or cleaning products.
  • Water parks and swimming can be fun, but chlorine or other chemicals found in swimming poolsand waterslides can irritate your lungs.

Install the health app Kata® on your smartphone before you travel. It can be your travel companion and help you to inhale correctly even during your holidays.

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