For many kidney disease patients the need to be on dialysis treatments can feel like the end of the road; literally. How can you ever travel and do all the things you’ve always wanted to do when your doctor tells you that you’ve got to be hooked up to a machine 3-4 times a week for hours on end? But the truth is, dialysis can help improve and maintain the quality of your life, not keep you tied to a machine. Some patients with chronic kidney disease have been on dialysis for over 30 years and have lived rewarding lives, full of travel, family gatherings, and celebrations. Kidney cars has compiled this checklist of things to consider when getting ready to travel while on dialysis; because we don’t want you to just donate your old car to help fund kidney research, we want you to enjoy many road trips in the years ahead.
Before You Plan Your Trip
Every traveler has a checklist of "things to do" before the date of departure. Preparing to travel while on dialysis adds another list of things to do. Be sure that you check these off well ahead of time to enjoy your travel to the fullest and to avoid any unnecessary difficulties.
Check with your doctor about the state of your health and anything you need to know before planning a long trip. Discuss with your doctor where you plan to go and ask for any suggestions to make traveling with dialysis easier.
Contact your insurance provider to discuss whether or not they will cover your treatments while you travel. Find out which dialysis treatment centers they will cover and if there are any they will not.
Compile documentation of your medical history, insurance information, flow sheets, and any medications you are on. Make a copy of this information to take with you.
Make Your Itinerary
After you’ve done your basic homework, it’s time to start planning your trip. If you’ve never traveled while on dialysis before, it’s a good idea to try one or two short trips before planning any round the world vacations.
Decide where you want to travel to, then research dialysis centers in that area.
Call the dialysis centers, at least 30 days before your trip, to see if they take traveling patients. Make your appointment with them based on when you want to take your trip.
Research what you’ll be eating on your trip. Some foods are higher in salt and potassium and you’ll need to be sure to have access to food that won’t disrupt your health.
Choose a backup dialysis center near where you’ll be traveling just in case you run into a problem. It’s better to over-plan than to be underprepared.
If you do home dialysis, check with the airline you are flying with to find out any special checking procedures for your equipment.
Book rooms that allow you enough space to do your treatments.
A Few Days Before Your Trip
You’ve made your reservations, you’ve got your dialysis appointment made, your hotel booked and now you’re on your last minute packing preparations. Here are some things to do right before you leave.
Call the dialysis center you’ve made your appointment with and reconfirm your appointment.
Gather enough medication for your trip and for several extra day into your carry-on bag, if you’re flying. There’s always a chance that your luggage could be lost. Don’t risk losing your medication, keep it in your carry-on.
Check your blood access, be certain that everything is working well.
You’ve done all your homework, you’ve made all your contacts, and done everything you can to make your experience as headache free as possible. Here’s your last checklist.
Make sure you have phone numbers for your doctor, insurance company, equipment company, and dialysis treatment centers in your wallet, purse, or carry-on baggage.
Enjoying life while on dialysis is just a matter of proper planning and taking the time to consider your options carefully. There’s no reason to feel tethered to a machine. You can travel, see the world, and enjoy the many cultures and destinations awaiting you around the globe.