Vacation and Travel Tips for Dialysis Patients


Nov 20, 2022

Vacation and Travel Tips for Dialysis Patients

Vacation and Travel Tips for Dialysis Patients

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.

Tips for In-Center Hemodialysis


  • Consult your doctor.  Before you make travel plans,  it’s a good idea to talk with your doctor and make sure you are healthy for your planned vacation. They will also be able to assist with copies of medical records and prescriptions before your trip.  
  • Plan ahead.  Start planning your trip at least 6-8 weeks in advance. Patients on hemodialysis will need to plan for transient dialysis (dialysis treatments away from home).  Your dialysis center can assist you in making arrangements, or may have a staff member who will make the arrangements for you.  
  • Be flexible.  Space in dialysis units can be limited.   Let the center know in advance about specific days you would prefer treatments but be flexible.  You may need to check with more than one center in the area you are traveling to.  Once you have arrived at your destination, it's a good idea to call and confirm your appointments.  
  • Gather medical information and prescriptions.  Carry all your medical records and information as well as copies of prescriptions with you.  If you are traveling by plane do not put them in checked luggage in case of lost luggage.  You should always have access to them as well as let your travel companion know where you keep them.  

Dialysis centers will need the following information:

  1. The dates you need dialysis treatment
  2. Your name and address
  3. Your medical history and report from a recent physical exam. 
  4. Recent lab reports
  5. Recent EKG
  6. Recent chest x-ray
  7. Your dialysis prescription and 3 to 5 recent treatment records.
  8. Dialysis access type
  9. Special needs or dialysis requirements
  10. Insurance information.
  11. Where you will be staying in the area
  12. A medication list that you take during treatments and at home

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.

Have realistic expectations

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 an emergency

In case an emergency should arise it's always a good idea to be prepared with the following information:

  1. Make sure family knows your travel plans
  2. Have important phone numbers and names of your doctor and dialysis center
  3. Have a copy of your medical records you carry with you. 
  4. Bring enough medication to last entire trip plus enough extra to deal with any emergencies such as spills or travel delays.  Also bring copies of your  prescriptions with you.
  5. Let your travel companion know where you keep your records, ID, and medications.  

Tips for Home Hemodialysis Patients

  1. Work with your dialysis care team ahead of your travel to coordinate the shipment of supplies or treatments at your destination.
  2. Notify the airline, hotel, cruise ship, etc. of any special requests in advance of your travel.
  3. Contact your insurance carrier and find out what expenses they will cover when traveling
  4. Keep your medical information in your carry on bags
  5. Bring extra supplies and medication (recommend minimum two days) in your carry on bags
"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."
-Debbie M.

Tips for Peritoneal Dialysis Patients

  1. Contact your travel destination (hotels, cruise ships, etc.) and explain your situation and find out what their process is to receive dialysate.
  2. Work with your medical supplier to ship the dialysate to your travel destination.
  3. Make a kit that includes two days of essential supplies and keep them with you (don't check them in with your luggage).
  4. If traveling by air, make sure your carry on luggage meets TSA guidelines.

"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.

Transplant Waiting List

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.

Related Articles

What is Dialysis?

What Do You Do When You're on Dialysis?


The National Kidney Foundation


About the Author

Monica Thomas

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.

Patient Education Disclaimer

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.

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