Hospice patients and others who suffer from medical conditions like COPD frequently use oxygen, and this can make them feel like they’re “trapped” inside their home. However, that’s far from the case. We have tips for traveling with oxygen, so your loved one can gain freedom while staying safe.

Planning ahead is essential when you require oxygen on either a full-time or part-time basis. Start by calling your healthcare provider and getting a copy of your oxygen prescription and any other paperwork. Depending upon where you’re going and how you plan to travel, you may need to arrange for oxygen to be delivered to your destination. If that’s the case, your doctor, your hospice care provider or your medical equipment company can help.

McCortney staff recommend the following steps when you travel with oxygen:

By Car

Keep your car windows open slightly, so air can circulate. If you’re using liquid oxygen, be sure to keep the unit upright on the floor or seat beside you. If possible, secure it with a seat belt. Stash any extra tanks behind the seat. Don’t put them in the trunk – it’s usually too hot and therefore unsafe. Also, NEVER smoke when you’re in the car, and don’t allow anyone else to either.

By Bus or Train

Call the bus or train station ahead of time, and let them know you’ll be traveling with oxygen. In most cases you can take your own, but you may need to show a copy of your prescription first.

By Plane

Personal oxygen tanks aren’t allowed on airplanes, but most airlines will supply you with oxygen for a fee, if you call them in advance. The down side is that this oxygen is only supplied during the actual flight, not while you’re at the airport. You’ll also have to arrange for oxygen to be delivered to your final destination, plus any layovers connected to your flight.

By Ship

Most cruise ships allow you to bring your own oxygen tanks with you, but you’ll need to call the cruise line to make arrangements and you’ll be in charge of delivering them to the ship. Also, they’ll probably want to have a letter from your doctor, a brief medical history and a copy of your oxygen prescription.