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Make Your Getaway!

By Contributing Writer and PD Patient
Jim McFarlin

“For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go,” the author Robert Louis Stevenson once declared. “I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move.”

Stevenson’s novels include Treasure Island and Kidnapped, so it would appear his travel experiences were mixed at best. If you relish the rejuvenating, life-changing excitement of journeying throughout the U.S. or visiting exotic foreign lands and you have Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD), you may think your “great affair” has to end due to your continual need for dialysis. Guess what? Not so! Keep your bags packed, bubby, because with your doctor’s permission and some advance planning, patients with CKD can maintain an active travel lifestyle.

I know. I am a professional writer (as you surely could tell by my stylish and witty prose above) who has to travel frequently for interviews and editorial meetings. When offered a choice of dialysis options, I consciously selected self-administered Peritoneal Dialysis (PD) because I thought it would offer the greatest flexibility in terms of when and where I could dialyze. But it really doesn’t matter which form of dialysis you’re using, traveling requires organization, scheduling and packing an extra suitcase or two. I have determined that I am horrible at all these things. But like they say in the weight-loss infomercials, if I can do this, anybody can.

First and most important, consult your physician and/or dialysis nurse for approval and advice on traveling. They know a little more about all this than you do and can offer some valuable assistance. They will not, however, under most circumstances, book your flights or hotel rooms. Some things you must do on your own.

You cannot possibly begin soon enough to make travel arrangements. Because I’m frequently on the go, I am almost constantly in a state of preparation. In fact, I live in Illinois, which is known as “The Preparation State.” But if this is your first excursion with dialysis, even if it’s only a brief trip, you should consider starting the process up to a month in advance with so many new details to absorb – even longer if you’re heading for a hot-spot destination like Florida, Las Vegas, New York or Canada.

If you’re on Hemodialysis (HD), you can reserve a space at a treatment center near where you’ll be heading. (“Seat for one, please.”) Your regular dialysis facility or social worker can be a huge help in making your accommodations. Medicare and private insurers generally will pay their usual portion of dialysis treatments you receive away from home.

Your dialysis center can also forward your dialysis prescription and other vital records to the facility you’ll be visiting. But to be on the safe side, carry copies of your medical information with you and call ahead to the new center to confirm they have all the particulars they need on you and that they’ve actually heard of you before. And just like at home, whatever you do, don’t be late for your appointment!

For PD you can arrange to have dialysis solution and other supplies drop-shipped to your destination with several weeks' advance notice. I often stay at a friend’s condominium when I’m working in Detroit and was delighted to learn that supplies can be delivered to private residences as well as hotels and resorts. (Probably less delighted than my friend, who has to receive and manage the deliveries until I return.) If you are staying at a hotel, be sure to call ahead and let them know you’re expecting important medical supplies that need to be stored in a dry, clean area away from direct sunlight and placed in your room upon your arrival. Politely suggest that the hotel staff probably will need a dolly. And a truss.

When I’m driving to my location, I usually just throw some cases of dialysis solution in my trunk. Well, more accurately, I place them in my trunk. Those suckers are heavy! And I always take at least one more box than I’ll need in case of unexpected leakage.

So keep your passport up to date and start planning your next getaway. Even with CKD, you can travel, even for travel’s sake. Get your move on. 

Learn more about traveling with PD 

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