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Vacation on Dialysis

People on dialysis can enjoy different types of vacations. You can set sail on a cruise ship, book a vacation abroad, road trip across the country, or visit famous attractions and entertainment spots. Whether you are on in-center hemodialysis, home hemodialysis (HHD), peritoneal dialysis (PD) or in-center nocturnal dialysis, there are vacation options that will allow you to still get dialysis treatments either at a dialysis center or by bringing your dialysis equipment. Advanced planning for a vacation is necessary when you are on dialysis and it is recommended that dialysis patients talk with their nurse and social worker well in advance of traveling. In addition to their nurse and social worker, patients should check their Medicare or other insurance to determine if treatment will be covered while traveling, especially if considering a vacation abroad. But once the plans are set, you won’t have to worry about arrangements for dialysis treatments and can enjoy all the benefits of getting away on vacation.

Attractions and amusement parks on dialysis

If it is a family trip you’re looking for, check out one of the many theme parks or amusement parks around the U.S. One of the most recognized is Walt Disney World®. Located in Orlando, Florida, Walt Disney World includes the Magic Kingdom® Park, Epcot® theme park, Disney’s Animal Kingdom® and Disney’s Hollywood Studios™. Orlando also plays host to Universal Orlando®, Medieval Times® Dinner and Tournament and Sea World®.

Although smaller in acreage, the theme park phenomenon was born in the Disneyland® Resort in Anaheim, California. The family can explore the different “lands” in the original park and also have fun at the newer Disney’s California Adventure® Park. Walk along Downtown Disney® to see different shops and eateries, all leading you to the two parks. California plays host to the original Sea World® in San Diego and Medieval Times® in Buena Park. Los Angeles also has a Universal Studios Hollywood® and CityWalk. If you stay in San Diego, you can venture off to wildlife settings including The World Famous San Diego Zoo® and Wild Animal Park®.

Busch Gardens® theme parks in Florida and Virginia offer exhilarating roller coasters and loads of entertainment for the amusement park enthusiast. You can also search throughout the U.S. for a variety of museums, botanical gardens, zoos and unique landmarks that can be visited on your next vacation.

Many places in the U.S. provide entertainment and attractions, but there really is no place like Las Vegas, Nevada. If over-the-top shows, resort hotels and table games pique your interest, look no further than the glitz and glam of this diamond in the desert. From the bright lights of themed hotels to the ringing of slot machines, Las Vegas is the West’s city that never sleeps. 

Las Vegas is one of the most visited cities by people on dialysis. People with chronic kidney disease can find many dialysis centers throughout the greater Las Vegas area.  

Las Vegas has managed to bring many worldly landmarks into one area. Paris Hotel and Casino has a (small) replica of the Eiffel Tower; the Statue of Liberty replica looks colossal in front of New York New York Hotel and Casino; and pirates put on a spectacular waterfront battle in front of Treasure Island Hotel and Casino. If you can’t make it to Venice, Italy the Venetian has gondola rides throughout the hotel in its manmade canal. 

Vintage Las Vegas is just a little ways from the Strip in the downtown area. Downtown Las Vegas features classic hotels and casinos. The Golden Nugget and the Gold Coast are a couple of highlights. The Fremont Experience is a street draped in lights with vendors and street performers to entertain you as you stroll. Off the strip you’ll find The Rio, The Palms, The Orleans and Green Valley Ranch.

Cruise vacations on dialysis

A cruise can be a great escape. Take in the vast ocean views, lay out by the pool or participate in the many activities a cruise has to offer. 

People on peritoneal dialysis (PD) can pack their supplies and bring them on the cruise ship. Be sure to bring extra supplies in case of any travel delays. You can do manual PD exchanges in the privacy of your cabin or use your cycler in the evening. 

Home hemodialysis (HHD) patients may bring their portable NxStage® machine on the cruise ship, although it may take extra planning. Both in-center hemodialysis and HHD patients can plan a cruise that provides treatments on the ship. Independent travel company, Dialysis at Sea®, is one place that provides a cruise vacation for dialysis patients. A nephrologist and nurses are onboard to administer hemodialysis treatments. After treatment is done, you can get back to your vacation. Check with your travel agent for other cruises offering similar services.

You can sail to tropical climates such as the Caribbean, Australia or South America, or cruise to cooler places that include Alaska and Canada. The time spent on a cruise varies and is dependent on where you want to travel, how long you decide to vacation and what is affordable for you.  

Entertainment is plentiful on the ship. Listen to a live band or try your hand at karaoke. If you’re the betting type, there are casinos on some cruise ships. Rock climbing, trivia games, sunbathing, theater shows and spa treatments are some highlights included on many ships. Find out what types of entertainment are available on the ship before you book your cruise.

When the ship docks, you can go sightseeing, horseback riding, hiking, and shopping. The cruise line may provide a list of offshore activities beforehand, along with times of when the ship leaves each port.  

A variety of food offered is available almost anytime on cruise ships. Consider bringing a list of what you can and cannot eat so that you keep your kidney diet in mind while cruising. Ask the servers onboard about different meal options, such as vegetarian dishes or what types of protein-enriched foods they offer.

A cruise is a vacation that people on dialysis and their loved ones can take pleasure in together with the convenience of having dialysis available onboard.

Camping and road trips on dialysis

Many times a good vacation is all about heading out onto the open road. According to the U.S. National Park Service, approximately 400 natural, cultural and recreational areas stretch out from sea to shining sea. Whether you visit the Redwood Forest in northern California or the beaches of Virginia, there is so much of the country to see when you do a road trip. You can try camping or taking an RV, book hotel rooms or make accommodations at a bed-and-breakfast. As with any trip, prices will determine where you decide to stay and how long you decide to travel.

Consider when and where to perform your dialysis treatments as you trek across the country. Such planning shouldn’t get in the way of exploring the wonders of the U.S. If you are an in-center hemodialysis patient, you must book in advance to dialyze at a nearby center. This should be done at least three months beforehand to ensure that you can get a space. If you treat your kidney disease with home dialysis, be sure to make room for your PD or HHD machine and supplies alongside your road trip gear. You will want to create a clean and draft-free area in order to properly perform home hemodialysis or peritoneal dialysis. If your trip lasts longer more than 10 days, have your PD or HHD supplies delivered to your destination so that you don’t need to carry all of it with you on your travels.

You can map out the dialysis center closest to where you would like to go. Ask your social worker to help you locate a center, whether you dialyze there or do home dialysis, in case of any emergencies while on vacation. Once you have the information, you can plan a trip that is both pleasant and convenient for your dialysis treatments.

Have you ever wanted to ride through the Rocky Mountains or take a mule ride down the Grand Canyon? Other places to see on a road trip are the Oregon coast, South Zion National Park in Utah or the Great Lakes.

When at a campsite, you can ask a park ranger for a map of the surrounding trails for a hiking adventure. In the evening, you can grill some of your kidney-friendly foods over a campfire for dinner. When venturing on the highways, pull over to purchase organic foods at a fruit stand or visit a local restaurant. There are many state and county fairs that kick off in the warmer months. During the fall, Albuquerque, New Mexico, holds its annual International Balloon Festival showcasing hundreds of hot air balloons taking flight. Or go east to New England and watch the autumn leaves turn.  

Even big cities are surrounded by places where you can camp at night and explore city life during the day, or vice versa. You can camp near the beaches of Malibu, California, take in the surrounding wildlife outside of Chicago, Illinois or get away from it all on the weekends in Upstate New York.

Vacationing abroad on dialysis

You may have your sights set on far off destinations. Does a trip to go up the Eiffel Tower in Paris sound appealing to you? How about taking a gondola ride in the canals of Venice? Or does hiking up and down the Great Wall of China sound like your idea of the ultimate vacation? How about taking in some seaside views in Australia? If this sounds like you but you feel that dialysis weighs down on your across-the-sea adventures, fear not. Chronic kidney disease affects many people around the world. Dialysis centers are located around the globe and if you have the funds and desire to plan this dream vacation, you can dialyze abroad. 

Medicare and most insurance companies will not cover dialysis treatment costs if you decide to go abroad. It is recommended to price these treatments beforehand so you have an idea of the cost and how long you would like to stay overseas. 

Peritoneal dialysis patients can have their supplies delivered to the place they visit. With sufficient planning, the PD supplies will be there when you arrive at your destination. In case of any travel delays, be sure to bring extra supplies.

For home hemodialysis patients, the NxStage machine can be taken abroad, but you should realize that NxStage doesn’t support their system outside of the continental U.S. People who do bring the machine will be on their own if they require more supplies or if a substitute machine is needed. Again, this can still be accomplished with the proper planning. HHD patients can opt to dialyze at a center abroad. Ask your home dialysis nurse to help you arrange treatments overseas. With proper planning, you can visit places such as Britain’s Buckingham Palace, take in the views of the Swiss Alps or celebrate Oktoberfest in Germany. Almost anywhere you choose to travel, dialysis can be accomplished while vacationing abroad.


A vacation can give you a sense of freedom and adventure and also be a way to reconnect with your loved ones and friends. Sail the high seas on a cruise, experience America on a grand road trip, vacation at a theme park and other attractions or fly to a faraway destination overseas – whichever you choose, know that you can maintain your dialysis treatments and at the same time enjoy getting away from it all.