Planning Your Holiday Travel

Traveling for the holidays can be joyful and exciting or, if you have a lung disease like COPD, it can require a lot of careful planning. If you use supplemental oxygen, planning for travel can pose challenges.

Traveling with compressed or liquid oxygen tanks requires an eye to detail when it comes to planning and comes with some restrictions. These oxygen tanks are not allowed on airplanes,[1] and some cruise ships restrict them,[2]  too, so any traveling with this type of oxygen may be restricted to car or train.

Since compressed and liquid oxygen tanks can only hold a finite amount of oxygen, you must ensure that you will have enough oxygen with you so that you do not run out. This may mean bringing several large, unwieldy tanks with you to get you through the trip.[3] Imagine trying to lug multiple oxygen tanks through a crowded train station. For some people, this makes holiday travel more trouble than it’s worth.

Traveling with a portable oxygen concentrator, on the other hand, is an entirely different experience.  Many portable oxygen concentrators (POCs), including all of our Inogen One models, meet FAA acceptance criteria for POCs used onboard aircraft, meaning you can bring them with you on any airplane. You can also bring a portable oxygen concentrator with you in the car, on a train[4] or on a boat.[2]

Portable oxygen concentrators provide a safe source of oxygen-enriched air to provide medical oxygen as prescribed by a physician. Whether operating from battery power or plugged in, portable oxygen concentrators continue to produce oxygen as long as the unit has power.[5]  Additionally, many portable oxygen concentrators are lightweight and easy to carry.

Travel Tips for People with COPD[6]

Traveling is always a little stressful, but for someone with COPD who depends on supplemental oxygen; it can create a unique challenge. Holiday travel is particularly busy—therefore, it requires special attention. There are a few tips that may help you manage your holiday travel with supplemental oxygen this year.

  1. Do your research first.
    If you want to travel for the holidays, it is helpful to do a little research in the months leading up to your travel dates. Traveling with oxygen can require special paperwork, an updated prescription and more, so look into what might be required before you make any concrete plans. That way, you can get started on the necessary preparation before buying any tickets.
  2. Make an appointment with your doctor before making travel plans.
    It is important to see your doctor before booking any travel. You will need to make sure you are up to date on your vaccinations and that you are in good enough health to travel—especially if you have recently experienced a COPD exacerbation. If your doctor says you can travel, discuss any possible changes you might need in your oxygen therapy prescription for airplane travel or traveling to a different climate or elevation. Get a copy of your oxygen prescription, just in case, and get any medication you use refilled during this visit, too. You can also get started on any paperwork you might need in order to bring your supplemental oxygen with you during travel.
  3. Check with your travel provider to make sure you meet any requirements.
    There are different requirements depending on what kind of supplemental oxygen you use and how you will be traveling. For example, if you travel by airplane with your portable oxygen concentrator, you may be required to present a statement of medical necessity detailing your medical condition and your need for supplemental oxygen during the flight. Each airline, train company or cruise line may have slightly different requirements, so it is essential that you check with your travel company to make sure you can meet all requirements well before you leave for your trip.
  4. Prepare to travel safely to stay healthy.
    As someone with COPD, it is important to take special care during travel, as you may be exposed to any number of germs and viruses that could jeopardize your health. Plan ahead to travel as safely as possible. Allow for plenty of time to get where you are going during travel so that you do not need to rush and exacerbate your shortness of breath or increase your anxiety. It is also essential to bring along a few extra supplies to protect your health.
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