I am making final preparations for my trip to the GOLD conference

Traveling with oxygen requires additional planning and considerations

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by Caroline Gainer |

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A few weeks ago, I wrote about overcoming my fears about traveling from my home in West Virginia to Philadelphia, where I’ll be attending the Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (GOLD) conference on Nov. 13. I am now in the process of putting the finishing touches on my speech and travel plans. Having chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) doesn’t mean I can’t travel; it just means that I must plan.

My presentation at the GOLD conference will focus on managing exacerbations. If you read last week’s column about using a COPD action plan, you got a glimpse of the main thrust of my talk. My PowerPoint presentation breaks the plan down into parts, much like I did in the column.

I’ve submitted my presentation and primary narrative, and the organizing committee has approved them. Hence, the oration is under wraps, as they say.

I’ve also completed much of the other preparations for my trip. The train tickets are purchased, and the hotel room is booked. For the average traveler, this concludes the planning, and nothing is left to do but pack and go.

However, those of us with COPD are not the average traveler, especially if we use supplemental oxygen.

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Traveling with oxygen

First, I need to make sure that I will have an oxygen concentrator in my hotel room. My durable medical equipment (DME) provider is local, so getting a concentrator at travel destinations is more complicated than it would be if my DME provider were national. In that case, all I’d need to do is contact the company and share the name of the place where I’m staying.

Instead, I contact my DME provider, and staff give me the number of a provider in the area where I’m staying. Then, I arrange to have a concentrator and oxygen tubing delivered to my hotel by that local provider.

In the past, I’ve taken my SimplyGo portable oxygen concentrator with me because it provides 2 liters of continuous flow, which is adequate for me to sleep. The problem this time is that the unit needs servicing, and there is a long waitlist for repairs.

For this trip, I am using a service called Freedom Link that provides people like me with oxygen or other necessary medical equipment for traveling. A good friend has used the service and recommended it to me.

Traveling with oxygen by train requires less planning than flying with oxygen does. I do not need a letter from my doctor, nor do I have to fill out forms for the trip. Amtrak requires passengers to notify the company by phone if they plan to bring oxygen equipment. The staff member who answered the phone when I called was charming, and she asked if I had a battery in case something happened to the train’s electrical system.

Before COPD, I did the minimum amount of planning and packed the same day I left for my trip. My husband and I had many disagreements because he would take up the whole spare room and start packing a week ahead of time.

Since I was diagnosed with COPD, I have learned to plan ahead, which makes trips less stressful and more enjoyable.

Note: COPD News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of COPD News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.