Nov 20, 2022
Who doesn’t dream of taking a vacation from time to time? Whether your ideal vacation is a cruise, sightseeing in a new city, relaxing on a beach, a family reunion, or maybe just a long weekend to get away, traveling while on dialysis may seem a bit overwhelming. However, travel and dialysis are possible. It may take a little extra planning and preparation, but being able to join in the fun of a family vacation or holiday can have benefits to your overall well being.
With the holiday season almost upon us, many families are planning for vacations requiring travel out of town. Most patients who receive dialysis can travel safely and continue treatments away from home. So let's take a look at some tips for vacationing while on dialysis. We also included tips from members of the LIVING on dialysis Facebook Group.
This information will be sent to the center you will be visiting ahead of your appointment. It is important for them to know as much about you as possible in order to take care of you while you are away from home. You should also carry a copy of this information with you.
"I think it depends on what kind of dialysis you are on. For me, I'm in center and my tips are write it all down! Everyday you will be gone, everyday you'll need treatment, every place/zip code you'll be in/need treatment in. Also names of everyone you speak to and any associated references #'s. Don't depend on a social worker to make the plans for you! Call the other centers yourself, and FOLLOW UP! I usually start with the travel # about 3-6 months in advance. And in the month before, I call other clinic(s) every week! Also, you do NOT have to stick with same branded clinic as your home clinic, you can go to other big name clinics or even local ones on vacation! Find which ones are closest to you and work from there! "-Mariah H.
Don’t overdo it. Plan outings and activities but allow yourself enough time to rest, you don’t want to become over tired. If you overdo it, you won’t enjoy the rest of your vacation. Also be sure to watch your diet and fluid intake, you want to stay healthy as possible and enjoy yourself. If you do require medical attention, your transient dialysis center can put you in contact with a doctor who has been assigned to oversee your care while in the area.
In case an emergency should arise it's always a good idea to be prepared with the following information:
"For us being prepared is the key. Communicate with your team, know what your prescription is and the closest home clinic and ER to your destination. Just incase you needed them. Make a list so you don't forget anything. We have traveled through 26 states this year doing my husband's HHD treatments. We carried 2 weeks of supplies with us and set up travel orders along the way. We set up telehealth appts with the doctor since Medicare allows us to do 2 telehealth appts and then an in-person appt. We carried 3 months of lab tubes and mailers and had our centrifuge. We carry 3 months of ancillary supplies as well, so we plan for long trips. Make sure you have extra supplies just incase. Medications as well, we have transferred prescriptions to Walmart because they are from coast to coast and easy to fill if needed. Like I said preparation is key." - Dawn B.
"1).Extension cords and duct tape are you best friend!
2). I pack all daily supplies in a gallon Ziplock (syringes, alcohol, needles, a bottle of heparin every 6th bag, etc)
3). 2-3 drain lines PER stop!
4). Make a list during treatment one day at home so you get everything you use.
5). If heading out of country that’s a different list of tips haha!
*pack a few days extra of everything!
**also consider where you are staying may have a different set up than you are used to—try to stick with arm at various levels/angles.
**black large trash bags, knife for boxes
If I’m traveling by air I pack 2 small carry on size bags but I check them. One has daily supplies ziplocks and one has saline and a few cartridges. In my younger days I used one humongous suitcase! It’s easier with two and there is no limit to medical you can check free.
I use a rolling cart that machine sits on for treatment and it’s helpful shlepping all the stuff into house/hotel."
"Always have emergency kits just in case something happens. Caps, clamps, gloves, alcohols pads, we keep CVC cleaning kits, if you are doing PD have manuals." - Michael G.
"Make a list of supplies, check it twice." - Ivan C.
If on a transplant waiting list you may still travel. However, you need to contact your transplant coordinator about your travel plans and possibly be put on hold while you are traveling. They can help to decide if you will still be close enough to return if a kidney were to become available, or put your status on hold for the duration of your trip.
This video developed by NxStage Kidney Care provides overall good tips for patients on dialysis that want to travel.
Monica McCarthy has bachelors in Political Science and Criminal Justice from Central Washington University. A majority of her career was spent as a political consultant. She currently works at KidneyLuv as a staff writer.
This material is for informational purposes only. It does not replace the advice or counsel of a doctor or health care professional. KidneyLuv makes every effort to provide information that is accurate and timely, but makes no guarantee in this regard. You should consult with, and rely only on the advice of, your physician or health care professional.