Whether planning a short car trip, a train trip across the United States or a flight to another country, oxygen therapy does not have to keep you at home! Planning ahead allows you to safely travel and enjoy your trip.
There are four C’s to traveling with oxygen:
- Call Your Doctor - Your doctor knows your medical situation, liter flow, and medications best. Speak to him or her about your trip to determine if the journey is safe for you to make.
- Contact Oxygen One - You can start the process by completing our online travel form here. Our patient care specialists will help you in deciding the type of equipment you require to fulfill your oxygen needs on your trip. We can help guide you in the process depending on how you are traveling and the details of your trip. We also may be able to help you find a provider at your destination in case of an emergency. We will need to know:
- When you are leaving and returning
- Where you are going
- How you are getting there
- Carry Your Prescription - Oxygen is a medical drug regulated by the FDA, therefore it requires a current prescription. While on your trip, you should keep extra copies of your prescription, and any other pertinent doctor’s orders you may have.
- Confirm your Plans - One week prior to leaving on your trip, confirm your oxygen arrangements and any other special preparations with Oxygen One or your equipment rental provider and with your travel provider (airline, cruise line, bus company, travel agent). Be prepared to follow any requirements that they deem necessary.
If You Are...
Traveling by Auto or Motor Home
When traveling by auto, it is important to determine the approximate length of your trip (hours/days) and the number of stops you will be making. It is best to add in extra travel time, typically a 20% safety margin, and prepare for any unexpected problems or delays. During your drive, you will need a form of portable oxygen. You should speak to someone in our patient care department to help determine what would be the best system. If you use your oxygen all the time, you will also want to consider the best portable system so that you can enjoy your trip.
You can bring your oxygen concentrator in the car with you to use once you reach your destination. However, because of the amount of energy used, it cannot be run in the car. Concentrators should be secured in the back seat of your vehicle to transport.
Here are some tips on auto travel that will help you have ease of mind as you begin your car trip or vacation!
- Map out your route - when mapping out your travel route, consider the length of your trip, the number of overnight stops, the length of each day's drive, and where rest stop/rest stop options are located. Once you have mapped it out you can plan when and where you will stop to refill your oxygen supply.
- Depending on the length of your trip or if you are in a particularly rural area, you may want to consider carrying a backup oxygen supply for added security.
- Try to avoid driving through areas with high elevations, as this may cause difficulty breathing.
- When driving, secure all of your oxygen units in an upright position in the automobile, ensuring that they will not fall over.
- Do not store oxygen tanks in your car or anywhere with direct sunlight or in extreme heat, with temperatures exceeding 120° F.
- Keep your car windows slightly open to allow for ventilation.
- Bring an extra supply of tubing, a cannula, and a connector.
- No smoking should occur in the vehicle while it is transporting oxygen.
If You Are...
Traveling by Airplane
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requires that anyone traveling with oxygen provide a copy of their prescription. The preferred method of oxygen use on an airplane is a Portable Oxygen Concentrator (POC). However, each airline has their own regulations regarding oxygen use and which approved POC you may bring aboard. Some airlines may not allow passengers to carry on the FAA approved devices and require that passengers use the onboard oxygen. Other airlines may allow passengers to use their own oxygen while on the runway, but then switch to the plane's oxygen once on board. Some airlines require special forms or letters from your physician prior to travel. Be sure to check with your airline well in advance of your flight to see what their rules and requirements are and to make necessary arrangements. Be prepared to make several phone calls to the airline as each airline has specific rules and regulations regarding POC use or oxygen rental.
Here are some tips to make your air travel fly smoothly!
- Contact your physician for a copy of your prescription and a letter if required demonstrating your oxygen needs. Be sure to carry multiple copies of your prescription with you! Make sure they are with you and not in a checked bag.
- Contact your airline as soon as possible find out their specific regulations for traveling with oxygen, and to get the information on the equipment you may need!
- Fly non-stop, if possible. Whether you are renting oxygen from the airline or using a POC, you will avoid extra charges and minimize the hassle of arranging for oxygen while on layovers.
- Notify the airline of any other special needs, like requiring a wheelchair. Even if your mobility is not impaired, using a wheelchair to travel from the gate to baggage claim can save your breath.
- Re-confirm travel plans with the airline at least 72 hours in advance.
- Carry an extra cannula, tubing, and connector in your carry-on bag.
If You Are...
Traveling by Bus or Train
Most bus and train lines allow passengers to carry portable oxygen, but each line may vary in their rules and regulations. There also may be limitations to the quantity and size of oxygen tanks allowed. Be sure to contact the company well in advance to see what their specific regulations are regarding your oxygen needs. You may need to make a special reservation.
Here are some tips to help you ride easily on the bus or train!
- Always carry your prescription with you.
- Contact the train/bus line at least 72 hours in advance to confirm your confirm final plans and the use of oxygen. Be prepared to follow any requirements the train/bus line asks of you.
- Look at your route and plan accordingly considering the length of your trip, the number of overnight stops, length of each day's drive and any rest stops.
- Secure all oxygen units in an upright position, ensuring that they will not fall over.
- Carry an extra cannula, tubing, and connector in your bag.
If You Are...
Traveling on a Cruise
When cruising by sea, please contact the cruise line you intend to use. Most cruise lines allow the use of medical oxygen but may require 4-6 weeks advance notice. Passengers are generally required to make their own arrangements for oxygen. However, there are some cruise lines that do offer rental medical oxygen. When making travel plans make sure to discuss this thoroughly prior to making reservations.
Here are some tips to make your cruise a smooth sailing experience!
- Contact your cruise line as soon as possible to inform them of your oxygen needs and to find out their requirements and regulations, and then contact them again at least 72 hours in advance of your trip to confirm final plans and the use of oxygen.
- Always have your prescription with you.
- Find out which ports you will be stopping in and consider the length of your trip and what excursions you will be making. Discuss these with our patient care team to determine which portable system will be best.
- Make sure all of your oxygen units are in an upright position, ensuring that they will not fall over in transit.
- Bring an extra supply of tubing, cannula, and connectors.
Traveling with oxygen can seem intimidating at first but by planning ahead, calling Oxygen One, and making the necessary arrangements in advance, traveling with oxygen can be smooth sailing. Once your home, we would love to see a picture of you using your oxygen on your trip!
Oxygen One offers an array of travel equipment, including small concentrators, small liquid oxygen units, and portable oxygen concentrators (POC’s) that are FAA approved. To inquire further regarding travel options that meet your needs and to obtain pricing information, please complete our travel form or contact our office today!