Supplemental oxygen pack with dotted line leading to an airplane

A COPD Travel Guide

It is getting to be that time again for me to travel for the annual Alpha-1 national conference and I know some of you are getting ready to go on summer vacations. Each year since being diagnosed with Alpha-1, I have been going to the annual conference.

Traveling can be quite overwhelming and exhausting, especially when you have to deal bringing too many items due to COPD. Here are some tips for making your travel little easier for any trip.

Tips for traveling with oxygen

Traveling with oxygen isn't the easiest thing to do, but it is manageable. I have written about this before but some things have changed over the years.

The first thing I would suggest doing is calling the airline that you will be using and letting them know that you will be using oxygen during your flight. I would also let them know that you will be needing wheelchair assistance.

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Even if you don't think you need a wheelchair, I would get one. Traveling is very tiresome and you may need to save your energy for the long travel day.

The second thing I would suggest to do is get your oxygen set up for you at the hotel that you will be staying at. You will need to do this at least a month in advance if possible. If you have a nationwide oxygen company then you can call them and tell them what you will need and where you will be staying.

If you need a room concentrator or any other supplies they will have them ready for you at your hotel upon arrival. If you use tanks, you will not be able to take them on the plane so you will have to rent an airline-approved portable oxygen concentrator from your provider or another company. Be sure to have time and a half amount of battery life for your amount of flying time and have them fully charged.

You cannot charge your portable machine on the plane, at least within the U.S., but I know you can on international flights. You can still order tanks to be delivered to your hotel room to use on arrival though.

I always like to remind them that you need tubing with at least 25 ft. and a swivel to connect your cannula. One time they gave me just the nose cannula and it would have been impossible to take a shower with just that. I had to call back the company and wait for everything that they forgot when they dropped it off.

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Other travel tips with COPD

A couple of tips not related to oxygen but is sure helpful is I have been mailing some of the clothing and toiletries that I need to the hotel that I am staying at about week in advance so that I don't have to worry about bringing a suitcase with me along with my oxygen supplies and other things that I need on board the plane.

It's hard enough worrying about that stuff let alone the oxygen, batteries, etc. I also carry a lightweight clean outfit with and carry all of my meds with me just in case my luggage gets lost.

On most airlines it costs for that suitcase anyways so why not spend that money on mailing it and not having the hassle of getting it to and from the airport. Just be sure to check with the hotel you are staying with to see if they will hold a package for you.

If they won't, you could find the closest Fed Ex or UPS and have it shipped there. I do the same when I'm returning home and mail it back to me.

I would also suggest wearing slip-on shoes to make it easier. You have to take your shoes off in the security line so that will help you save time.

I also like to have some tip money on hand to give to everyone who helps me with the wheelchair, etc. It’s not mandatory but I like to give if I can.

To read another article that written about flying with COPD, you can find that here.

Have you traveled with oxygen before? What great tips did I forget? Please share with us below.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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