11 tips for vacation with medically-complex home care kids

Travel allows you to change up your routine and enjoy time away, but for medically complex children and their families, it can be a scary concept. To help take some of the anxiety out of planning, we created a travel checklist – you can enter your child’s information and print the document off for reminders and tips as you’re preparing for your trip.

These 10 tips can also help you and your family relax and enjoy some away-from-home adventures:

1. Talk with your PHS clinician before the trip

He or she will help you prepare, including getting a copy of your child’s current physician orders to keep with you and helping you with other planning details.

2. Pack or arrange to ship disposable supplies and equipment

You can carry disposable supplies with you or PHS can ship disposable supplies to your travel destination in the United States (except Hawaii and Alaska.) Contact PHS customer service at 651-642-1825 to make arrangements for shipment of supplies from PHS to your destination.

If you are planning to ship your child’s equipment, make sure it arrives safely by packing it in a correctly sized box. Call PHS if you need boxes for your child’s equipment.

3. Bring backup equipment

Pack backup equipment or arrange to have backup equipment ready for your use at your destination.

4. Know your resources

Before leaving home, call a hospital in your travel area and ask for resources that fit your child’s medical needs. Be sure to say that these medical resources are for a child because most homecare and medical equipment providers center on adult care. If you’re unsure where the nearest hospital is in your travel area use the US Hospital Finder website to help locate one.

It is also beneficial to know of local DME or oxygen providers in the area you’re visiting,  in case supplies are unexpectedly needed.

5. Let the airline know

Before buying a plane ticket, call the airline or PHS to talk about your child’s medical needs. If medical support is needed during flight time, your airline may require a doctor’s order. If you need oxygen during your flight time, you will need to use an airline approved oxygen concentrator and ventilator. Typically, they will have you contact Oxygen to Go, which has the forms required for this.

When calling to make arrangements, you can usually request a disability or airline liaison to help with travel arrangements – these people are well-versed in everything from making sure you have all the forms you need to fill out, to arranging help at the airport if needed to get you from check-in to the gate. You will also want to make sure your medical and equipment needs are met at the airport terminal before you board and after you arrive at your destination.

6. Line up oxygen if needed

Some companies specializing in oxygen and related medical equipment for travelers are:

Advanced Aeromedical

For a fee, provides oxygen for airport layovers, hotel stays, cruise ships, and motor tours.

Breathin’ Easy

Identifies oxygen providers in cities throughout the world.

Travel O2

For a fee, arranges for worldwide delivery of medical and oxygen equipment.

7. Bring home with you

Make your hotel or other lodging a little more like home with a familiar stuffed animal, blanket or pillow. Consider a room with a small kitchen. If you have items that will need refrigeration, contact them in advance to arrange for a refrigerator.

8. Fill your medications

Before you leave, contact your pharmacy to ensure you have enough medication for your trip – including a filled refill, if necessary. In this instance, the pharmacy may have to contact insurance if a refill is not yet due to inform them of your travel plans so it can be filled.

9. Keep your schedule consistent

As much as possible, keep bedtimes and wake-up times the same as at home, accounting for time changes. Try to have a trip routine from day to day, even if the specific activities change.

10. Preview and review

Each morning, talk with your child about the day ahead, and review the day each evening.

12. Most of all, enjoy the experience and take plenty of photos and video. PHS would love to hear about your adventures, too!

How do you prepare for time away from home? What works for you and your family while on vacation? Do you have tips, based on your vacation experiences? Any places that have been especially accommodating for you and your family?

We’d love to hear from you.

We provide these resources as a convenience and for informational purposes only. Always consult your child’s doctor regarding your child’s care plan. PHS is not liable for the content of any of the resources listed nor do we endorse any commercial product or service mentioned or suggested.