Toothbrush? Check. Map, itinerary, and phone numbers? Check. Note from your physician and extra batteries? Um…

While you or a loved one know how to manage portable oxygen equipment in your daily lives, the newness of travel can disrupt routines as you scramble to follow new rules. But whether it’s be air, by sea or by land, you can be better prepared with these tips for traveling with portable oxygen:

Note: Contact your provider anytime you are traveling outside your provider’s normal service area. You may need a back-up provider for out of town travel. Check to see if a medical release form is required from your doctor to travel or if a prescription is needed listing your liter flow and duration of use.

Traveling by car:

  • Prior to departing, make sure your oxygen unit is secure in the vehicle to avoid tipping or tangling of tubes. Never transport your oxygen in the trunk.
  • Oxygen requires ventilation, so be sure to crack your window during your trip.
  • Some oxygen systems have DC power adapters which enable you to charge your battery through your vehicle’s lighter power source. Check your manual to verify your equipment can do this.
  • Ensure you travel with adequate oxygen needs in the event of traffic delays.

Traveling by bus or train: 

  • You can take your own oxygen by bus or train but there may be a weight limit.  Check with the train or bus company for specific guidelines on any limitations.
  • Bring extra batteries or tanks just to be on the safe side.

Traveling by plane:

  • In advance, contact your airline to understand their policy on portable oxygen. Some airlines will even provide you with oxygen on the plane.
  • Oxygen cylinders are not permitted for travel on plane. However, an FAA approved portable oxygen concentrator is permitted by airlines, if needed. Check with your airline to confirm.
  • The FAA requires portable oxygen units have battery life to cover 150% of flight time. For example, a four-hour flight, would require a battery life of six hours. Each airline has additional battery requirements, so check with your carrier in advance.
  • Always travel with your AC/DC power supply. If you have the opportunity during layovers to charge equipment, locate an outlet and plug in. Powering up while you wait will save you the battery juice later on.
  • Visit www.airlineoxygencouncil.org for airline policies related to in-flight use of portable oxygen.

Traveling by ship:

  • You are permitted to take your own oxygen tank or concentrator on a cruise ship, but it’s best to notify the cruise line of your oxygen needs ahead of time.
  • Plan ahead to take enough oxygen to last the entire length of your travels

Do you have any traveling experiences or tips to share with us and others? Let us know in the comments section!

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