There is no need to turn in your passport or let your frequent flyer miles go to waste just because you're on dialysis. Most dialysis patients can travel safely and continue their treatment away from home with proper planning. Here are a few tips that will have you packing your bags in no time:
- Consult your healthcare team before you travel.
- Start traveling on a small scale. Try one treatment away from your own unit to experience how the scheduling process works.
- Before booking a long distance trip, make a list of dialysis facilities in potential travel destinations that accept transient patients.
- Call each facility on the list at least 30 days prior to travel and discuss special needs you may have. Select a dialysis unit you find most comfortable based on location and openings.
- Prepare and bring a copy of your recent flow sheets, medication list, medical history, and health insurance with you.
- Check with your insurance provider to see if they cover the cost of treatment when you travel.
- Start lining up your medications several days ahead, making sure you have enough to cover the trip and for a few days after you get home. Put these in your carry-on bag just in case your luggage is lost.
- Find out what kind of food to expect in your destination location. If unfamiliar with certain foods, find out about their potassium and salt content.
- Make sure your blood access is working well.
- Reconfirm your treatment schedule with the dialysis unit a few days before you travel.
Special considerations for home hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis patients:
- If you use a portable machine for your dialysis treatments, check with the airline before traveling to see if a doctor's note is required to carry the machine on the plane.
- Talk with your healthcare team who can help to arrange for delivery of supplies to your destination.
- Arrange for backup dialysis clinic that would be available should a problem arise when traveling.
- Remember to carry the toll-free numbers of the dialysis and equipment companies for assistance 24 hours a day.
- Plan for adequate clean space where you will do your dialysis treatments or exchanges while traveling.