Traveling on Dialysis

With a bit of planning, you can travel almost anywhere and keep to your treatment schedule.

Let’s go

Being on dialysis doesn’t mean you can’t take a vacation or go on a business trip. In fact, many of our patients return from their travels full of adventurous stories to share with their friends and family members.

With planning and preparation, you can travel almost anywhere in the world and keep to your treatment schedule. Talk with your doctor and your social worker and let them know about your plans well in advance. Read through this page to get tips about dialysis while you travel.

 

Visit a dialysis center at your destination

If you usually dialyze in one of our centers, then visiting a local dialysis center at your destination is your best option. If you’re a home hemodialysis patient and don’t wish to travel with your equipment, you may also choose to dialyze at a center in the city you’re visiting.

Dialysis centers across the globe cater to visitors who need treatment while traveling. Your doctor and social worker can help you arrange dialysis at your destination.

→ Find a center near your U.S. destination

→ Find a center near your international destination

Get visitor dialysis at Northwest Kidney Centers

 

Use portable equipment to dialyze on the go

If you’re a home dialysis user, then you aren’t tied to a dialysis center schedule. With portable equipment, it’s possible to dialyze many places you wish to travel.

For a home dialysis patient, travel requires extra planning. For example, if you’re traveling by plane, you may need to ship your dialysis fluid to your destination ahead of time. To make sure you have everything covered, discuss your travel plans with your doctor and the home nursing staff one to two months before you plan to leave.

Find out more about home dialysis

Your travel checklist

 

In-center dialysis

✓ Discuss your travel plans with your unit manager or doctor one to two months before your trip.

✓ Call to arrange dialysis appointments at a center in the area you’re traveling to.

✓ Ask your nurse or social worker for the travel worksheet to help you plan. Fill the worksheet out when you’ve found a place to dialyze, then give it to staff members at your unit so they know where you’ll be receiving treatment.

✓ Ask your insurance provider how dialysis costs are covered while you’re away.

✓ Complete any paperwork required by the center.

✓ Confirm your dialysis appointments with the center one week before you leave.

✓ Ask us for your last three treatment log sheets and give them to the center you’re visiting.

✓ When you book flights, ask for a low-salt meal.

✓ Pack medications and relevant medical records in your carry-on luggage.

 

Peritoneal dialysis and home hemodialysis

✓ Talk to the home dialysis nursing staff about your travel plans.

✓ Talk to your nurse about how to pack your supplies or ship them in advance.

✓ Ask your airline for a low-salt meal.

✓ Pack medications and relevant medical records in your carry-on luggage.

✓ Write down the contact details of a dialysis center at your destination just in case you need help or forget any essential supplies.

Visitor hemodialysis at
Northwest Kidney Centers

Planning a visit to the Seattle area? If you’re traveling to the greater Puget Sound region, we’ll happily host your treatments in one of our 15 dialysis centers. Please get in touch at least 30 days before you arrive so that we can arrange times and dates that work for you.

Fill in a visitor request form

In-center dialysis patient Emmett Smith.

Common questions

Although dialysis centers normally need at least one month to prepare for a visiting dialysis patient, we can try to help you arrange last-minute treatments in a facility at your destination if you need to travel suddenly. Talk to your nurse manager or social worker as soon as you know you’ll need to travel.

If Medicare is your primary insurance provider, around 80 percent of your dialysis costs while traveling within the U.S. will be covered. It’s up to you or a secondary provider to pay the rest.

If you have State (Medicaid), private or group insurance, it’s important to contact your insurance to check on coverage for dialysis outside of your normal service area. Some insurance companies limit coverage out of state, out of the country or on a cruise ship. Ask your insurance provider what percentage the company will pay. Also find out whether you need to go to a contracted provider or get preauthorization or a referral in order to have dialysis covered.

If you don’t follow the procedure set out by your insurance company, you could be left with a large bill to pay.

Pack your medications and relevant medical records, including your doctor’s contact information, in your carry-on luggage. If you’re a home dialysis user, consider shipping your dialysis supplies to your destination in advance.

Also, be sure to pack your own kidney-friendly snacks because airport restaurants do not always offer the healthiest choices.

When you book your flights, ask for a meal that fits your doctor’s recommendations for healthy eating. Choose a hotel with a restaurant that offers healthy choices. Carry enough food with you to cover your needs until you arrive at your destination.

If you’re a peritoneal dialysis or home hemodialysis patient, you may want to ship your dialysis supplies to your hotel in advance. Call the hotel to let them know important medical supplies will be arriving in your name. 

Yes. Before you go, share your travel itinerary with your transplant coordinator. Depending on how far you plan to travel, you may need to be placed “on hold” until you return. However, if your coordinator determines that you could return with enough time to receive a transplant, your status on the waiting list won’t change.

billpeckham

 

 

“We had great runs through the rapids and daily fantastic side trips. We had July weather: wind, rain and hail, alone and in combination. I had a dozen moments of a lifetime. Seeing the canyon was a gift. I am so thankful for it.”

 

— Bill Peckham, who gave himself hemodialysis treatments during breaks in a raft trip through the Grand Canyon