One of the primary benefits of home dialysis is the overall freedom and flexibility it offers. Traveling can be a challenge for people on dialysis, but recent advances in technology and services are now making domestic travel a more convenient and feasible option. While those on peritoneal dialysis have traditionally had an easier time traveling, many home hemodialysis patients now have more choices than ever before with the availability of equipment that is more portable, easy to set up and supported with supplies that can be delivered anywhere in the continental United States.
Peritoneal dialysis (PD) patients typically have an easier time traveling because their treatments do not require access to a machine, and the necessary supplies are smaller and more portable. The primary requirement if you are traveling on PD is to pack an adequate amount of supplies and any necessary medications in a safe and easily accessible way. You should consider making a special first aid kit to carry with you that includes two days worth of essential supplies to help prepare for any unforeseen circumstances, such as a baggage delay when traveling by plane. You should also make certain that your carry-on baggage meets security and airline regulation well in advance.
People on home hemodialysis (HHD) use varying of types of equipment. Traveling on HHD is most convenient for those using the NxStage-System One® machine, which is smaller and more portable than other machines. The NxStage machine can be checked on airplanes as baggage, so make sure to check with your training nurse about using specially designed hard or soft portable cases that can be purchased from the manufacturer. The use of a hard or soft case may depend on the specific aircraft you use when you fly, and it’s strongly recommended that you call your airline in advance to check on their policies and restrictions for carry-on baggage. If you use another type of HHD machine that cannot travel with you, or you do not want to travel with your equipment, your home dialysis care team can work with you to locate dialysis centers and coordinate visits for treatments while you’re away. It is recommended you coordinate these details with plenty of advance notice.
With careful planning and preparation, many people on home dialysis can experience the freedom of traveling for business, pleasure or the holidays. Your individual travel needs will depend on your type of home dialysis treatment, and your dialysis team can help you through that process. The first step in planning a trip is to call your doctor and tell him about your travel plans. It is very important to keep your home dialysis care providers informed so they can ensure that it is safe for you to travel and assist with accommodations to make your travel as smooth and worry-free as possible. They can guide you on how to maintain your treatments while on the road, what to bring with you, how to schedule in-center appointments if needed, and much more. Following are additional tips to consider:
If you are on home dialysis and concerned about traveling alone or have a hard time planning a vacation, you can also choose from a number of vacation packages that cater specifically to dialysis patients. These vacations, including special cruises equipped with necessary dialysis equipment and medical staff, can provide an opportunity for those on dialysis and their families to get away without worrying about their medical needs.
Advances in technology and services have made HHD and PD more flexible than ever. With flexibility comes the freedom to hit the open road (or open skies, for some). Traveling for home dialysis patients, whether it’s for fun or business, is possible.
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