According to the American Thoracic Society, an estimated 1.5 million adults in the United States use supplemental oxygen to live longer and improve their quality of life. Many oxygen users are unfamiliar with the steps to travel with oxygen. Before any form of travel, contact your healthcare provider. Your healthcare provider will assess if you are safe to travel. Always charge any internal or external batteries if your oxygen device has one before traveling.
When traveling by car, make sure that your oxygen is upright and secure in a seatbelt. Do not let anyone smoke in the car, turn on the air conditioner, or crack a window for air circulation. Do not leave your oxygen in the car because extreme temperatures (hot or cold) can damage your device internally.
When traveling by bus, reach out to the bus company before travel to understand their requirements for traveling with oxygen. Most buses or ground transportation carriers will allow the use of a portable oxygen concentrator or oxygen canisters. If you have oxygen canisters, there may be a limit to how many canisters you are allowed to bring. Make sure to confirm the amount with the bus company, and always bring your required documentation and extra accessories, just in case.
When taking a cruise, first call the cruise line to tell them you will be traveling with oxygen. Most cruise lines accept all forms of oxygen devices. You will need to contact your oxygen supplier to determine how much oxygen needs to be sent or taken on the cruise. You will also need to discuss your stops or ports of call, and your oxygen supplier may be able to arrange for oxygen to be there. If not, some cruise lines have pre-approved suppliers, making the process easier. Some cruise companies work with oxygen companies to offer portable oxygen concentrators for rentals. Always pack extra accessories.
When flying, most airlines will allow a concentrator on board if it is approved by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Call the airline with plenty of notice to understand their policies. The FAA only allows portable oxygen concentrators. They do not allow compressed gas cylinders, liquid oxygen, or oxygen canisters. Some airlines will offer inflight oxygen for a fee. Remember that using the airline oxygen will not include oxygen for the airport while waiting to board or for layovers. Always remember to bring extra accessories and batteries if needed.
Do not let oxygen stop you from traveling and enjoying yourself, but always discuss with your healthcare provider.