Discharge Instructions: Traveling with Oxygen

Discharge Instructions: Traveling with Oxygen

Your health care provider has prescribed oxygen use for you. Using oxygen doesn't mean you can't travel. You just need to plan ahead. Tell your home health care provider and oxygen supplier where you're going and how you're getting there. They can help you arrange to have oxygen tanks ready at your destination when you arrive. Many oxygen suppliers have offices across the country, and some even have offices abroad. This sheet provides some tips to help you plan your trip.

By Car

  • Avoid open flame and any sources of high heat.Do not smoke or allow anyone else to smoke in the car.
  • Open a window.
  • Don't allow anyone to smoke near you.
  • Place the oxygen unit upright, either on the floor or on the seat beside you.
  • Secure the unit with a seat belt.
  • Store extra oxygen units upright.

By Cruise Ship

  • Notify the cruise company that you will be traveling with oxygen. Most cruise lines require a 4- to 6-week notice to travel with oxygen.
  • Ask your health care provider to provide the cruise company with a letter that includes a brief medical history and your current oxygen prescription.
  • Make arrangements for your oxygen units to be delivered directly to the cruise ship before you depart.

By Plane

  • Make your airline reservations several weeks ahead. Although your oxygen tank is not allowed on the plane, most airlines will supply an oxygen system for a fee.
  • Send a copy of your oxygen prescription, approval for air travel, verification of need for in-flight oxygen, and a completed medical information form to the airline. Bring enough copies of this letter with you for all flights.
  • Arrange for extra oxygen tanks to be at your destination before you arrive.
  • Bring along your own nasal prongs or nipple adaptor. Some airlines only supply masks.

By Bus or Train

  • Call the local terminal management at least 3 days before you depart.
  • Tell them that you're traveling with oxygen and request seating in a nonsmoking area.
  • Plan to take your own oxygen unit onboard. This is usually allowed.
  • Bring extra oxygen tanks as baggage if allowed by the bus or train company.

When to Call a Doctor

Ask for a doctor or for help right away if you have any of the following:

  • Pale skin or a blue color to your skin
  • Heavier or faster breathing than usual
  • Trouble breathing, even with your oxygen in place
  • Chest pain