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Traveling with Oxygen: Tips for New Portable Oxygen Concentrator Users 16 May 2024

Who doesn't like to travel? The excitement of seeing new scenic places and experiencing new cultures is one of life's many wonders. But, before the advent of Portable Oxygen Concentrators (POC), this joy of exploration was taken away from COPD patients undergoing oxygen therapy. Fortunately, times have changed.

POCs have made traveling possible and safe for people with respiratory issues. However, there may still be hesitation for new users when traveling with oxygen. In this blog post, we aim to share some helpful information from pre-trip preparations to specific tips for different modes of travel to help you prepare with confidence.

General Tips for Traveling with a Portable Oxygen Concentrator

1. Consult Your Doctor

Before planning your trip, it's important to speak with your doctor about your travel intentions. Destinations with high altitudes, high pollution levels, or extreme temperatures can affect your oxygen requirements. So, clearly discuss your oxygen needs with the healthcare provider and ensure your prescription is up to date.

2. Perform Regular Maintenance

Inspect the condition of your portable oxygen machine ahead of time. The best way to ensure proper operation is to regularly use the device as instructed and carry out routine maintenance and cleaning. Not using the device may lead to operational issues. This habit can prevent any unexpected issues during your trip.

3. Buy Travel Insurance

Invest in travel insurance, especially when traveling by cruise or airline. This insurance can be a lifesaver in case of any health emergencies or issues with your POC during the trip.

4. Carry Medications and Health Documents

Double-check if you have all the necessary medications and health documents before the journey. These papers should include your oxygen prescription and any other relevant medical information that may be needed in an emergency.

Some airlines and cruise ships request relevant documentation for carrying a travel oxygen concentrator onboard. So, call in advance to clarify your doubts and inquire about the documents that you need to present.

5. Stay Hydrated

Staying hydrated is particularly important when you rely on supplemental oxygen. Drink plenty of water to keep your respiratory system functioning well. Limit your alcohol and caffeine consumption, as they can contribute to rapid dehydration if taken in large amounts.

Tips for Traveling with Oxygen by Car

Road trips offer you the flexibility to pause anywhere and anytime to take a breather or address emergencies. However, this freedom comes with careful planning and preparations.

1. Plan Your Trip

Before starting the engine, map out your journey and locate rest stops, hospitals, and accommodations along the chosen route. For long trips, schedule regular breaks to rest and recharge before continuing your adventure drives.

2. Test the Condition of Your POC

Conduct a thorough check by running your POC inside the vehicle way ahead of your trip. Ensure that it operates perfectly and charges its battery when connected to the car's power outlet. In case of any issues, immediately contact your homecare provider for repairs to guarantee a smooth journey.

3. Keep People Informed

Update your family or guardians on your travel details and location to ensure they can swiftly respond in any emergency. This practice becomes easy for patients using Zen-O or Zen-O lite portable oxygen concentrators with 'Clarity' – an innovative online remote tracking platform. It allows your family or healthcare provider to monitor your location, oxygen usage, battery levels, and more in real-time, offering peace of mind for everyone involved.

4. Charging Your Travel Oxygen Concentrator

Carry extra batteries to last the entire duration of the journey. Use the rest stops like restaurants and hotels to recharge the batteries or charge as you move by utilizing the DC outlet in your car or RV.

5. Do NOT Smoke Near the POC

Never smoke or expose the POC to open flames, as oxygen is highly flammable. If any of your traveling companions want to smoke, ask them to do so outside the vehicle, at a safe distance from the device.

6. Do NOT Leave Your POC in the Car

Avoid leaving your travel oxygen machine in the car, as extreme heat and cold can damage the device. Carry your unit in a carry case, backpack, or pull cart provided with your POC when you step out of the vehicle to protect it from theft and harsh temperatures.

7. Secure Your POC

Finally, secure your unit with a seat belt or extra straps to prevent any damage during the trip.

Tips for Traveling with Oxygen on Airlines

Air travel for COPD patients has become easier with FAA-approved POCs, allowing uninterrupted oxygen therapy on flights. Below are some tips for flying with an oxygen machine.

1. Follow Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Guidelines

Ensure you carry an FAA-approved portable oxygen concentrator like the Zen-O or Zen-O lite. Secure relevant documents from your doctor required by the Federal Aviation Administration, detailing your need for an oxygen device for onboard usage.

2. Know Your Airline Policy

Each airline has its policy regarding portable oxygen concentrators, so it’s essential to check in advance. Most require notification at least 48 hours before your flight and may need a doctor’s note.

3. Communicate Your Needs

Arrive early to allow ample time for security screenings and to communicate your needs to the airline staff.

4. Ensure Extended Battery Life

Airlines often require that your battery life exceeds 150% of the flight time. Pack extra batteries just in case, and remember, they should be carried in your carry-on to avoid issues with checked baggage.

5. Prepare for International Travel

If you are crossing borders, it's wise to carry a prong power plug adapter to charge your POC regardless of the outlet type at your destination.

Tips for Traveling with Oxygen on a Cruise

1. Learn Your Cruise Policy

Similar to airlines, cruise lines have their own policies. Reach out to your cruise line well in advance to discuss your needs and any documentation they require.

2. Power Considerations

Inquire about the availability of power outlets in your cabin to ensure you can charge your device.

3. Familiarize Yourself

Get to know the layout of the ship, particularly the locations of medical facilities. Participate in safety drills and have a plan for emergencies.

4. Off-Ship Activities

When planning shore excursions, consider the level of activity and access to power for charging. Taking it easy and choosing experiences that align with your energy levels and oxygen needs is okay.

Traveling with a portable oxygen concentrator requires planning and preparation, but it doesn't have to limit your ability to explore and enjoy new experiences. By following these tips and ensuring you're well-prepared, you can travel confidently and explore our big, beautiful world.

If you are looking for compact, lightweight portable oxygen concentrators that adhere to the FAA standards for your next trip, check out our Zen-O and Zen-O lite units.

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