We love vacations! And we’re thrilled you might be taking one! To have the best vacation possible, we’ve come up with some ideas for you

Before you go...

Planning is key, so think about the following:

  • Ask your doctor if there are any types of vacations or activities that are not safe for you. For example, some people with CHD should not travel to high altitudes or go mountain climbing, skydiving, or scuba diving.
  • Think about how much walking you will need to do. Are there multiple flights? Will you have to quickly change airport terminals? Can you carry your own luggage?
  • Plan rest times into your vacation
  • Learn about the medical facilities where you’re planning to go
  • Ask your doctor or nurse if there is a CHD centre where you’re going or you can search the ACHD travel guide to see if there is one close to your travel destination 
  • Buy health and cancellation insurance (just in case)
  • Give a copy of your travel plan to your family members

Things to take

  • Your medications – put them in your carry-on if you are flying and be sure to take enough to last the whole trip plus several extra days
  • A list of your medications (keep this in your wallet)
  • A copy of your last cardiology clinic letter and ECG in case you need to seek medical attention during your vacation (you can ask your doctor for this)
  • As little luggage as possible (avoid packing heavy bags)
  • The contact information for your cardiologist

Altitude and CHD

Most people with CHD can travel to high-altitude countries without any problems. However, you should talk to your doctor before booking your adventure. For people with certain conditions, like pulmonary hypertension, we can do testing to find out if high altitude trips are safe for you. 

In high altitudes, there is a change in the air pressure that makes it harder for your body to take in oxygen. This gets worse as you go higher. Some people with CHD will have symptoms even at medium altitudes. The symptoms of altitude sickness can range from a headache and nausea to more serious things like shortness of breath or heart failure. This is why it is so important to know your risk before you book your adventure.

Flying Overseas: Be aware in the air

Good news – most people with CHD will not have any problems flying in commercial airplanes. However, if you have low oxygen levels (like cyanosis or Eisenmenger Syndrome) or have problems with fluid on the lungs (like heart failure), you should talk to your cardiologist before getting on a plane – you may need oxygen to fly safely.

Here are some other general tips when flying:

  • Avoid stress. Plan for extra time at airports.
  • Get out of your seat and walk around every hour to prevent blood clots
  • Keep your medications in your carry-on luggage
  • Drink plenty of water to keep hydrated when flying and avoid coffee, tea and cola.

The Adult Congenital Heart Association website also has helpful information about traveling