Image Credit: Getty Images/ domoyega

Asthma on the Go: What’s in Your Bag?

Reading time | 7 mins

I used to have everything in my bag. Even my high school librarian used to marvel about the number of things I carried around with me.

Nowadays, I travel in a few different ways: minimalist or just about half my life in my backpack. Let’s set the record straight though, because “minimalist” is a tad different when you live with asthma. My friends with asthma, they all roll a bit differently too.

Here is what’s in my bag… and theirs!

What’s in my bag: Minimalist edition

For quick trips out of the house, I rock a hipster belt pack. This is also my favorite bag for air travel to keep my boarding pass, passport, and other small items like my inhaler, earphones, and candy more findable. 

Items for the less minimalist trip: earphones, phone, inhaler, keys, small card wallet also containing a little cash. Random things I found in there: mints, CA$2.25 and a USD quarter (why?), and a guitar pick despite not knowing when I last played my guitar.

What’s in my bag: Full throttle

Here is the reason why I don’t carry my backpack all the time. This is the bag that comes with me for longer days out (specifically if I decide to work away from home).

Pictured: old candy, a pencil case, a ruler, replacement earphone tips, kinesiology tape, the backup phone (in addition to my regular phone!), mittens, business cards, inhaler and spacer, PB&J chocolate bar, sunglasses, a paper clip, pill case, a Braille label, a fidget cube, another inhaler, pens, a stylus, phone cord, phone charger, C-Pen Reader pen, laptop, and my Bullet Journal

I asked a few of my friends with asthma to share photos of what’s in their bag. Graciously, many offered a glimpse into their bags — and lives.

What’s in Stephen’s bag?

When I messaged Stephen in the San Francisco Bay Area asking what was in his bag, his replied, “Minimalist at this very moment.”

Hey, I roll that way!

Pictured: keys, inhaler, wallet

What’s in Jess’s bag?

Jess is a snowboarder and grad student in Southern California. How she wound up there is beyond me, as she literally lives for mountains and snow — her heart is really in the mountains of Vancouver, British Columbia. Jess has asthma, is a massive fan of the Vancouver Canucks, and is also deaf.

When she sent her pic, Jess pointed out the many neck/face warmers she uses to cover her mouth and nose in order to warm the air before it gets to her lungs when she’s out on the slopes.

Pictured: inhaler, screwdriver, headphones, snowboarding goggles x2, hearing aid batteries, snowboard boots, mittens, more mittens, several neck warmers, toque (to us Canadians — it’s not a beanie, y’all), snowboarding helmet.

What’s in Dia’s bag?

Dia is a sport developer from Toronto, Ontario. She works in the non-profit sphere in an organization that supports programming for young people with disabilities. She’s also a blogger (even if she won’t yet call herself one!) and advocate for better design practices in healthcare both in- and outside of asthma. 

Pictured: keys, gloves, Moleskine notebook, earphones, a pen, lip balm, mints, two inhalers, and tissues.

What’s in Bill’s bag?

Bill is a health economist from Nova Scotia, Canada, a father of two (including a daughter with asthma), and the creator of the Faces of Pharmacare campaign. Like me, Bill presently spends a good chunk of time working from home.

Bill sent two pictures.

His comment was: “Typical daily [vs.] typical travel… can you spot the difference?”

Pictured: laptop charger, projector adapter, cellphone/tablet power cords, tape, power bank, earphones, dock adapter for smartphone, laptop, passport, travel immunization record, wallet, cheque book, tissues, bandages, pill container, multiple inhalers, eye drops, business card, car key, iPad, book, notepad, pens, sharpie, highlighter, tiny comb.

The difference? The second picture has a lot more medicine in it! (Also seeing all this in Bill’s trademark courier bag makes my shoulder hurt!)

What’s in Jessica’s bag?

Jessica is a United Church Minister from Toronto and has had asthma and allergies for most of her life. She’s a rescuer of feral cats (and other wildlife), writer, and an avid reader. This is what’s in her bag.

Pictured: two pens, a water bottle, wallet, inhaler, umbrella, tissues, cosmetics bag containing compact, various lip balms, cough tablets, sunglasses.

What’s in John’s bag?

John is a respiratory therapist from Michigan who has had asthma his whole life — you may have read his writing on his site, Respiratory Therapy Cave. Here’s what’s in his bag.

Pictured: laptop charger, laptop, earphones, medicine tablets, two inhalers, a spacer, wallet, nine nebulising solutions, supplements, oral medications.


The takeaway

Even though we all lead different lives (and carry aspects of those different lives around with us wherever we go), the common thread between me and my other friends living with asthma: No one leaves home without their medications. Living with asthma doesn’t mean you can’t do the things you love — you just have to be a little more prepared!

NPS-IE-NP-00041 September 2020