Educational Blog & Newsletter

Are you ready for a vacation?


If you are new to dialysis, you might feel that vacations are no longer an option for you, but it is possible to travel and have a great time while continuing your dialysis treatments; it just requires some planning and coordination with your dialysis center team. The content here will help you get started planning that trip you want to take!



Where will you vacation


First thing’s first! Where do you want to go? What locale gives you the most breathing room where you feel like you are truly away? Is it the mountains, the sea, a city or just someplace new?


Many people on dialysis feel they need to stay in the US to get proper treatment, but dialysis is done globally. If you want to plan a trip outside of the US, make sure to plan 6-8 weeks in advance. The National Kidney Foundation provides Travel Tips and more details here.


In the United States, there are 10 major dialysis providers with Fresenius and DaVita being the largest. Typically, 2-3 weeks advance planning is sufficient unless it is a popular destination. Each has their own travel service department to help you in finding a dialysis center location (links above), and they are typically open Monday-Friday. So, think about your plans on the weekend and call first thing Monday morning to check for availability.


What help you will receive


Your home dialysis center should have a coordinator to help you with finding a dialysis center near the location you choose to visit. If they do not have a designated person to help you or they are particularly busy, you will need to do some of the leg work, below is information to help you plan your trip.


Discuss your travel plans with your social worker and/or nurse, they will help you determine if there’s someone on the team designated to help with travel plans. The earlier you can provide your dialysis center team information about the trip you are planning the better. They may need information such as:

  • Travel dates

  • Destination (address and contact information if available)

  • Mode of transportation to your destination

Travel planning considerations if you use in-center hemodialysis (IC-HD)


In the best of worlds once you have picked your travel destination, your home dialysis center coordinator will do all the work to identify a chair at a dialysis center for you, but sometimes you need to do it yourself, below are some tips for planning your trip.


Planning your trip:

1. Let your dialysis center coordinator know the dates you are looking for as soon as possible. Even if they don't have time to work on it, keeping them up to date on your dates could help someone else who is planning a trip.


2. Look for dialysis centers near the destination and compare using the Medicare.gov website.


Key tip: It is always good to evaluate centers, read reviews and leave remarks to help the next person that goes to that dialysis center.


3. Decide on the best times for you. Early morning (6am) gives you the whole day to enjoy your location, but for some that is way too early, and sleep is more important. Do what you know works for you! You know your body better than anyone else.


4. Pick one to three dialysis centers. Call your first choice and ask them if they have the date and time you’re looking for and then go down your list from there if they do not. You might not get the time slot you want but knowing that ahead of time helps.


Key tip: If you find a dialysis center location that you like but they are full, ask them when is the best time to book for that location and mark your calendar so you remember to request ahead of time for your next trip. You can also ask to be put on a wait list in case someone cancels.


5. Once the date and time has been confirmed at the location you are visiting, ask your in-center home dialysis center counselor to send your records to the dialysis center location you are visiting. This is to ensure you are given the same treatment as you would have at your home location.


6. Make your transportation arrangements. Don’t forget airlines also provide wheelchair transportation if needed.


7. Most important of all: Have a great trip!


Travel planning considerations if you conduct home peritoneal dialysis (PD)


Considerations when you are conducting home peritoneal dialysis will vary from person to person. Start by discussing plans and asking for assistance from your care partner, loved ones, and your home dialysis clinic can help you determine what you need to consider and what help you might need. Below is an example plan of action for you.


Planning your trip:

1. Once you have decided on your location of choice, discuss your traveling plans with the social worker and/or your nurse to determine if there’s someone on the team designated to help with travel plans. The earlier you can provide your dialysis center team information about the trip you are planning the better.


2. Contact your dialysis supply and equipment company to arrange for your dialysis supplies to be shipped to your travel destination, if desired. Some people opt to travel with their supplies, depending on their mode of travel.


Example: If you are driving 6 hours away from your home you may take your supplies with you versus arranging for your supplies to be shipped to your destination.


Key tip: When deciding if you want to have your supplies shipped consider your mode of travel, number of days you’re traveling, size of the machine, and if you need a care partner.


3. Determine if you have the appropriate luggage for your equipment. If you don’t have the luggage you need, speak with your home dialysis clinic to determine if they have luggage for your dialysis machine.


Key tip: Some home-dialysis clinics have luggage that you can reserve specifically for your travel dates and then return the luggage to the clinic.


4. If traveling by plane, check with your airline for rules and restrictions prior to arriving at the airport. Some airlines may allow you to carry on your cycler.


Travel planning considerations if you conduct at home hemodialysis (HD)


Planning your trip:


1. Once you have decided on your location of choice, discuss your traveling plans with the social worker and/or your nurse to determine if there’s someone on the team designated to help with travel plans. The earlier you can provide your dialysis center team information about the trip you are planning the better.


2. Consider if you want to bring your equipment and supplies with you or if you want to go to an in-center hemodialysis center while traveling. If you decide to do in-center hemodialysis, see the earlier IC-HD section for planning tips.


3. Ask your home dialysis clinic for a checklist to use while you’re packing. Pack your supplies based upon the number of days you’ll be traveling, then add extra supplies and medications for emergencies.


4. In addition to extra supplies, you may want to find hospitals near your destination and take a list of your medications.


5. Some home dialysis clinics will give you a travel packet that will include a portion of your medical records and your treatment information. Your home dialysis clinic may not be able to provide this information if your travel information was given to them on short notice.


6. Have a list of contacts that includes the contact information for the out-of-town hemodialysis clinic, nearby hospitals, on-call nurse, and customer service number for your dialysis supply and equipment company. No matter where you travel, always remember to stay safe, rest often, and don’t skip your treatments.


Most importantly have a great time!


Resources

Easy Ways to Eliminate the Stress of Traveling for Dialysis Patients. AAKP. (2022).


Travel Tips: A Guide for Kidney Patients. National Kidney Foundation. (2022).




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