Know Your Local Care Options

Travel prepared with the phone numbers and addresses of local pharmacies, hospitals, and urgent care centers.

6 min read
In this article
  • If you have cystic fibrosis and are traveling internationally, it's important to identify where you will get medical care, if needed, before you leave home.
  • It is also important to identify a CF care center and a pharmacy at your destination prior to your departure.

Know Where You Will Go

Work with your CF care team to find out if there are CF clinics or hospitals in the areas you will visit in case you need to seek medical attention. 

Ask your CF care team if they know of care options where you are traveling that they would recommend. The Cystic Fibrosis Worldwide website has a list of contacts for many countries. Write down any information you might need, including the following:

  • The name of the clinic or doctor.
  • The phone number.
  • The address of the clinic or doctor.
  • Transportation options to take you to the clinic or doctor.

If You Get Sick While Traveling

Plan ahead so that you know where to go for medical care, if you need it. 

  • In the U.S.: If you're planning to travel within the United States, you can get high-quality specialized care at any of the more than 130 CF care centers and 53 affiliate programs nationwide. Search for a care center by zip code.
  • Internationally: If you're thinking about international travel, choosing a destination with a comprehensive CF care center will ensure that, if you need it, you can receive high-quality care when you're away from home. Search for clinics here.

If you get sick on your trip, don't wait it out. Contact your CF care center for advice.

Bring a prepaid phone card with you in case you are in an area where your cell phone does not work. Depending on the type of cell phone coverage you have, you also may be able to pay extra to use your current cell phone while abroad. You may also want to call your health insurance company or a local hospital or medical center. If you need immediate medical attention, hotel staff can usually direct you to the closest health care facility and arrange transportation for you. 

If you see a doctor in another country, be sure to take your CF care center's emergency and general contact numbers, your passport, insurance documents, your fitness-to-fly letter and any other information you have about your medications and treatment. If you pay for anything, always obtain a signed receipt; you may need this if you file a claim with your insurance. 

If you are unwell upon your return home, contact your CF care center as soon as possible so that you can be checked for illnesses.

If You Need More Medications

The best way to make sure you won't be without medications is to bring an extra supply. Not only should you bring enough for your trip, but you also may want to bring as much medication as your pharmacy will provide you in case of emergencies. You may also want to bring extra written prescriptions in case your supplies run out. However, these pre-written prescriptions may not be accepted or considered valid depending on which country you are traveling to and which pharmacy you use. The pharmacy may also have to order specific CF medications since not all pharmacies carry them, which can sometimes take a business day or longer. If a pharmacy cannot fill the quantity of a prescription due to their limited supply, you can always request less than the amount written on the prescription.

Call your pharmacist and ask about ordering extra medications for your trip, as he or she may even be able to ship extra supplies to your hotel or refer you to partnering pharmacies that carry CF medications. If you need help working with your pharmacy to obtain additional medications, call Cystic Fibrosis Foundation Compass, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. until 7 p.m. ET, at 844-COMPASS (844-266-7277) or email

If You Need Oxygen

If you require oxygen at home, you will require it when you are away from home, too. You are responsible for coordinating your oxygen while traveling, during any travel layovers and at your final destination. Your local oxygen supplier should be able to help you with coordinating oxygen for your trip or direct you to an organization that specializes in travel oxygen.

International Travel to the U.S.

For people with CF who live outside of the U.S., traveling to the States for vacation, university or an extended stay also requires preparation. Prior to your departure, it is important to talk with your CF care team so that you can work together to get any necessary vaccinations, medications, therapies, clearance and coverage for care. In addition to information about the various medical aspects involved in traveling with CF, your care center should also be able to provide you with information about local CF care options and help you develop a plan for emergencies.

To further coordinate your care while traveling to the U.S., you can look up the state that you are visiting using our “Find a Care Center” tool. After you have selected the state from the pull-down menu, contact the center that comes up in the search results and ask a list of key questions to ensure that you can utilize the center as a resource and receive any necessary care. Typically, the program coordinator or another member of the CF care team can provide you with important contact information or explain the options available for international travelers in need of emergency CF care.

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