Respiratory Review

Travel tips with oxygen

Just because you use oxygen doesn`t mean that you can`t travel. It does mean, however, that you have to plan ahead. Changes in time zones and increased activity are things that need to be taken into consideration. Here is a checklist to help you prepare for the next time that you travel.

  • Did you ask your doctor about traveling?

Especially if you have been hospitalized recently, check with your doctor for travel clearance.

  • Have you completed the necessary paperwork to travel? A letter from your health care provider that verifies all of your medications, including oxygen, may be needed.
  • Do you have a copy of your oxygen prescription? You will need to show your prescription to travel personnel, so be sure to carry the prescription with you.
  • Do you have the name and phone number of the following health care professionals with you: your doctor, your respiratory therapist, your oxygen supplier and home health care company representative?
  • Do you have enough medication to last the entire trip? Remember to pack all medication and supplies in your carry-on bag. Keep a list of current medications with you at all times.
  • Do you have emergency medical identification to wear?

Below are additional tips for travelers on oxygen therapy:

  • Contact your home health care company and tell them where you are going and how you are getting there. They can assist you in arranging for oxygen when you reach your travel destination.
  • Be sure that you know how to use your portable oxygen system and know how long your oxygen will last. Check ahead to see if oxygen refills will be needed to complete your trip.
  • Did you contact your travel carrier (airline, cruise ship, bus) before departure? Be sure to ask if there will be a fee related to oxygen use.
  • Check with your health care provider if you have further questions.

Traveling by air:

  • Contact the airline several weeks ahead to obtain their policy and make arrangements. The airline may require a letter from your physician, some medical history, and a current oxygen prescription.
  • Before boarding the airplane you will need to leave your own portable oxygen tank at the gate. Make advance arrangements to leave your portable unit with a family member or plan to have your oxygen supplier pick up the unit at the airport.
  • You will not be able to use your own oxygen on the airplane.
  • Arrange for oxygen during layovers and when you arrive at your destination. Direct flights are recommended whenever possible.

Traveling by car:

  • No smoking should be allowed in the car.
  • Crack the car window open a bit.
  • Place the oxygen unit upright on the seat next to you. Secure the oxygen with a seat belt. Put the extra oxygen units flat on the floor next to the seat.

Traveling by bus or train:

  • Contact the local terminal management a few weeks before your scheduled departure.
  • Tell the management that you are traveling with oxygen and ask to be seated in a non-smoking area. You will probably be able to take your own oxygen on board.

Traveling on a cruise ship:

Call the cruise line approximately 4 to 6 weeks before departure

  • The cruise line will need a letter from your physician, some medical history, and a current oxygen prescription.
  • Before you depart, make arrangements to have your oxygen units delivered directly to the cruise ship.