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Travel while on dialysis

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Business trip, family event, or much-needed vacation is possible

At first, people beginning dialysis may not think travel is possible, but the truth is, for most of us, it is. Sure, it takes a bit more planning, but once you do it the first time, you’ll be dreaming of the next place on your bucket list. Plus, your care team has lots of tips and can help you understand how to make planning as easy as possible. 

Plan ahead

  • Let your care team know as you begin thinking about a trip. They can give offer suggestions on what you need to do. 
  • For patients who dialyze in a center, get a list of dialysis centers at your destination. Call ahead and ask them if you can have treatment there as a visitor.
  • When making a hotel reservation, request an accessible room and/or one on the ground floor.
  • If traveling by plane or train, be sure to order special meals, if needed, that fit better with your dialysis meal plan. When in doubt, pack your own meal to control portions and ingredients.

Pack carefully

  • Carry with you at all times your insurance card, medication list, and contact information for your center and kidney doctor. 
  • Bring enough medications for your whole trip with a little extra just in case. Also carry your prescriptions.   
  • For patients who dialyze  at home, talk with your care team about the supplies to bring, or have shipped, to your destination. Ask how best to pack your machine and supplies.  

During your trip

  • Let transportation and hotel staff know early if you need a little extra help with anything.
  • Be sure to get every minute of each dialysis treatment. 
  • Take your medicines as prescribed. 
  • Follow your dialysis meal plan as much as possible. 
  • Do everything you can to help you feel your best so you can enjoy your time away from home.
 

"I can still travel"

 Brian is encouraged to plan a special anniversary trip with his wife. He works with his daughter, social worker and care team to set up treatments at the destination and looks forward to surprising his wife.

Learn about traveling with dialysis

Travel inspiration

Listen to these fascinating stories of people on dialysis taking treatment on the road.

Grand Canyon River Rafting

Join Bill on his 8-day, 225-mile river rafting trip down the Colorado River.

RV Living

Harvey shares stories of his travels around the country in his RV with his portable home hemodialysis machine.

On the High Seas

Scott, a dialysis nurse working on a cruise ship, shares tips on how to have a great, worry-free tropical vacation and still get the treatment you need. 

For those who dialyze at home

  • Tell your care team about your travel plans early. 
  • Your care team must tell the company that sends you dialysis supplies to fill your travel order. To do this, please allow 4–6 weeks’ notice for travel in the US and 8 weeks’ notice for travel outside of the US. There may be some fees, however your care team can discuss those with you.
  • Last minute orders may be charged an additional ‘emergency fee’, which must be paid before your travel order is approved.
  • Some destinations may have equipment voltage and transformer requirements. Ask your care team to confirm the destination requirements and where you can get any additional equipment required.
  • Ask your care team for help or if you have questions.

For those who dialyze in a center

  • Talk to your kidney doctor two  months before booking travel or making plans.
  • As soon as you have travel dates, begin calling centers at your destination, at least 30 days before you’ll need your treatment. Start with your current dialysis provider, as this is the easiest way to arrange for treatment at your destination. If needed, search by location on the Medicare website. 
  • When you find a center with availability, asked them to fax a "Travel Packet" to your dialysis center. 
  • Ask your center for a "Travel Request" form. Complete and return it to your social worker or front desk staff. 
  • Travel will  require updated tests such as chest x-rays, EKGs, TB tests and certain blood work. Your center staff will let you know what you need.
  • Most centers require payment at the time of dialysis. Be prepared so there are no surprises to spoil your trip. Patients are responsible for costs associated with dialysis travel. Contact your insurance company to understand if you have a responsibly for costs. 
  • Ask your care team for help or if you have questions.  
 

Here’s what to say…

When you’re calling dialysis centers at your travel destination, start with this… “I'm traveling to your area and would like to schedule my treatments at your center as a visitor. Do you have availability for the following dates...?”

 

Find dialysis locations near your destination

Peritoneal dialysis packing tips

  • Peritoneal cyclers may be ‘carried on’ if traveling by plane.
  • Ask your dialysis nurse for tips on packing a machine/supplies as well as an ‘airline letter’, explaining the need to ‘carry-on’ your machine. Bring this letter with you when you travel.
  • A 24” travel suitcase on wheels is considered ‘carry-on luggage’. 
  • Travel with both CAPD manual supplies and CCPD machine supplies so you’re prepared for an emergency to convert to manual treatment. Discuss the emergency plan supply need with your care team.
 

Global Dialysis

This website offers an extensive list of dialysis centers around the world. It also offers travel resources and information to help you enjoy your trip overseas.