Traveling and Dialysis

I love traveling, and being on dialysis, you'd perhaps think it would be much more difficult for me to take trips. Luckily, it's totally do-able. I continue to connect to my dialysis machine, AKA the cycler, every night, same as always. I just have to bring along the cycler and all necessary medical supplies.

I can even hop on a plane. I’ve flown twice since starting dialysis. The most recent trip was a lovely summer vacation this year to Seattle, and the first time was Coachella 2014 for three music-and-fun-filled nights. Both times, after checking it in, airport security had opened up the cycler’s specially-built, extra-durable luggage to inspect the heavy, printer-sized device, and both times, the machine came back to me none-the-worse-for-wear, nestled on the inside cradle with a prominent notice card proclaiming that the hard-working TSA had been there.

The important thing for flights is to call Baxter two months in advance, and let them know the address of where you’ll be staying. They will deliver the dialysis solution bags there. I always ask for a couple of extra bags, just in case I get a faulty one.*

Traveling by way of automobile is even easier. You just need enough room in the car for the bags/boxes of dialysate, in addition to the machine and all supplies.

Having said that, the first few times I took overnight trips, I forgot to bring bleach to disinfect the showerhead at the hotel bathroom, or liquid soap to use on my exit site while I showered. Once, I even forgot to bring my portable urinal for overnight peeing - the length of the tube from the cycler never reaches far enough to get to the bathroom. Luckily, plenty of Targets lay near the roads to Yosemite, Half Moon Bay, and Point Reyes, my past automobile trip destinations.

Here is my Travel Checklist:

  • Cycler
  • Solutions
  • Surgical masks
  • Mini-caps
  • Alcavis high-level disinfectant
  • Disinfecting wipes for table/surfaces
  • Sterile gauze 2x2’s
  • Medipore tape
  • Lap pad
  • Scale
  • Blood pressure cuff
  • Binder of home record log sheets
  • Paper towel roll
  • Portable urinal
  • Cassettes for the cycler (this contains all the tubing that go to the dialysis bags and my catheter)
  • Drain bags
  • Flexi caps (In case you need to stop a running machine for any reason, you attach a temporary flexi cap to the tubing)
  • Bleach
  • A plastic takeout container to hold the bleach-water mixture and the showerhead to disinfect it

It's not a short list, but, if you’re new to PD and are wondering how it might affect your traveling, I would tell you that it’s totally possible.



*This is an uncommon event. Of the approximately 1,400 dialysate bags I’ve opened since starting dialysis, I’ve had just three damaged bags that had to be disposed.