Tips for Holiday Travel with Supplemental Oxygen

  • Nov - 01 - 2022
  • Elixair Medical

Toy airplane on top of passports with world map backgroundIf you require supplemental oxygen on a regular basis, travelling for the holidays can be a lot more difficult. However, if you plan ahead and know what to prepare for, your trip can be safe and enjoyable, regardless of your oxygen therapy needs. Keep reading to get some important tips on making it easier to travel with your supplemental oxygen.

Know the Type of Oxygen You Use

Hopefully you’re quite familiar with what type of oxygen therapy device you use, because this information can be very important with certain modes of transportation. Here are the 3 types of oxygen that most people use:

  • Compressed oxygen tank – A tank of pressurized oxygen gas, which may be large and require a cart, or small enough to carry.
  • Liquid oxygen unit – A tank of oxygen gas cooled to a very low temperature; typically comes with a portable unit that can be carried or pulled on a cart.
  • Portable oxygen concentrator (POC) – A device that takes in air from your environment, cleans it, and concentrates the oxygen to deliver more of it to you.

Now that we’ve established the types of oxygen units most people use, let’s talk about how to travel with that oxygen.

Airline Travel

It’s important to be aware that airlines do not allow compressed gas or liquid oxygen on a plane for safety purposes. You can, however, use an FAA-approved POC, and some airlines will even offer in-flight oxygen for free. If you intend to use the airline-supplied oxygen, keep in mind that this is only available on the airplane, and not in the airport.

You should alert the airline that you’ll be using oxygen (either your own or the in-flight oxygen) when you book your flight. Some airlines will require paperwork from your doctor, or will ask you to fill out a medical form. This will allow you to bring the device onto the plane, in addition to your normal carry-on.

If you choose to bring your POC when travelling on a plane, be sure to bring extra batteries for it, as well as your own nasal prongs. Additionally, you should arrange for any necessary oxygen supplies when you arrive at your destination, and during layovers.

Bus and Train Travel

As with airline travel, you should alert the bus or train office that you’ll be travelling oxygen; you should typically do this at least three days in advance of your trip. While most bus and train companies allow personal oxygen devices on board, you should ask them about their policies to ensure there are no surprises. Bring extra oxygen units in your baggage (depending on the type of oxygen you’re using) and carry your prescription or your device with you.

Car Travel

When travelling by car, you don’t have to worry about the policies of various travel agencies, so naturally you can use any type of oxygen you want. However, it’s important to take proper care of your oxygen device and units throughout the trip. Ensure any oxygen units you bring are stored upright in a secure position on the floor; if you’re placing them in an empty seat, secure them with a seat belt. Keep the windows open a small crack to allow air to circulate, and don’t allow anyone to smoke in the vehicle.

If you’re going to be out of the car for an extended period of time, and there’s a chance the vehicle will heat up, make sure you don’t leave the oxygen units in the car. Remember, even in winter, cars can still get quite warm in some states during the afternoon hours.

Cruise Travel

If you’re taking a holiday cruise, you should alert the cruise company that you’ll be traveling with oxygen as soon as possible; most of them require between four and six weeks’ notice to travel with oxygen, so if you haven’t alerted them to this need yet, do so right away. You should also ask your healthcare provider to provide a letter that briefly describes your health history and oxygen needs, and have it sent to the cruise company.

You should also contact your oxygen supplier and work with them to have oxygen units sent to your cruise ship before departure. They may also be able to arrange oxygen tanks for your ports of call.

Prepare for Your Oxygen Needs during the Holidays

We know how the holidays can sneak up on you, but if you plan to take any trips in the coming months, we strongly encourage you to start planning now. Contact Elixair Medical today to learn more about portable oxygen concentrators and our other oxygen therapy supplies. We will be happy to assist you and answer any questions you might have about ensuring that your oxygen needs are met during your upcoming trip.