Traveling with CPAP and Other Medical Devices

Wheelchair patient attended to by nurseMore and more, I get this question about traveling with medical devices. The most common one is CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure). Other common questions are traveling with a scooter, wheelchair, oxygen, service animal, walker and crutches.

In the United States, travel with medical devices is never considered as part of your limitation on baggage checked or carried. So if you need that extra piece, you will not be charged. But there are rules that must be adhered to and it is up to you to disclose your medical devices at least 2 days prior to travel for many items, and in some cases, you should contact them before you even book a ticket..

Take electric scooters or wheelchairs for example. Airlines need to know specifics on the devices ahead of time. Typically, they want to know the size and weight, and whether the batteries are sealed or not. Call your travel agent or airline at least 48 hours before departure

Supplemental oxygen is considered hazardous cargo and typically is not allowed on the airplane either on board or in the cargo hold. Airline policy varies on this. If you require supplemental oxygen, you should contact your travel agent or airline carrier before you book a flight.

CPAP machines are medical devices that allow persons to avoid sleep apnea. They might be used on long haul flights for sleeping, but most times are just carried to a destination to allow for restful sleep overnight. If you intend to use a CPAP on the flight, you will likely want to bring your own battery operated power supply. While many airlines now have power outlets for use in flight, they may not be suitable for the power requirements of your CPAP. Check with your agent or the airline.

Canes and other assisted walking devices are allowed on board, but it is best to notify your agent or the airline ahead of time. If you need wheelchair assistance, it is best to order ahead as well.

Keep in mind that traveling outside of the United States that countries may not be as accommodating to persons with disabilities. It is always best to check on your specific needs before you travel. We can help with that.

With proper preparation, those with medical devices or physical limitations can explore the world.

12 Great Suggestions for Travel Packing.

I have traveled a lot. I visited all 50 states, about 58 countries and 6 continents. I have traveled enough to know how to pack and what to pack. This blog will give you some of the tips and tricks I have learned over the years, and is updated from my original blog in 2016.

Pack what you need, but no more. This is the most important rule. Inexperienced travelers traditionally overpack. Today, this is going to cost you in terms of excess baggage charges, or worse yet, a missing bag because you could not carry it on and it was delayed because you checked it.

Calculate how many days you plan to be gone, and figure out how many outfits needed. Compile a list in advance. Segregate those clothes in a separate area starting the week before the trip, so you know what you might need to buy, wash or locate. Start at your feet and continue to your head, thinking about all of the clothing items you will need. Be sure to check out the dress requirements (climate, activities, special events) ahead of time and find those items. On a recent cruise, there was a white hot night (all white clothes) and an 80s party, so I packed specific items for these events. Figure out what you need in sports equipment that you cannot or do not want to rent. Consider the cost of baggage fees (to and from) as it might be cheaper to rent equipment than to carry on.

If you travel often, put together a bathroom kit with everything in small sizes that you need (shampoo, deodorant, toothpaste)when you travel. Include items like a small sewing kit, earplugs, over the counter medicines like pain relief and upset stomach. Keep this in your suitcase even when you are home. After a trip, replace any items used so you don’t find them missing on the next trip out. Keep all your gels and liquids in a one quart bag with bottles that contain no more than 3 oz. Make sure it is accessible in your luggage for removal during screening. This is true also for any electronics larger than a cell phone.

Travel with color coordinated clothes you can mix and match. Limit the colors you take so that you can pull this off effectively.

Mark up your luggage with tape or ribbon so that it will not be mistaken for another similar looking bag. Make the marking a bright color that is easy to spot from a distance while riding around the airport carousel.

Roll up your clothes to keep the wrinkles to a minimum. Start at the bottom of the item and roll to the top after you have done your initial folding of sleeves, etc. Your appearance will be better since you will reduce wrinkles in your clothes. You dont want to spend your vacation ironing!

If you have a smartphone, leave most of your other gadgets at home. Your smartphone doubles as a map, alarm clock, music player, camera, flashlight, web browser, email communicator, etc. You really do not need to pack an extra GPS, for example. But if you plan to use your smartphone for a GPS, pack a cigarette lighter charger with your smartphone cable, or an external battery as the GPS function will drain your battery fast. I recommend carrying two charging cords and two chargers in case one gets lost or damaged. Of course, if you are traveling to a photographic intensive destination or are a serious photographer, then by all means carry your photo equipment, but skinny down on the accessories to only the ones you will need.

Check your airline baggage size and weight requirements on their website and measure and weigh your luggage before you head to the airport. Airlines have strict luggage weight requirements for checked luggage and some have weight limits for carry on luggage also. Baggage fees change often and depend on airline, passenger status, type of aircraft, type of luggage, credit card used, and destination. If you do not have a baggage scale, use your bathroom scale, for a close approximation. First weigh yourself, then weigh yourself holding the bag and subtract to find the weight of the bag alone. If you are over, consider repacking or choose to accept the fees.

And finally, when you get back home, survey what you used and what you did not. Make a mental note to pack less next time. If you keep a standard bathroom kit in your luggage, now is the time to replenish the items you used on the trip.

Your reward for packing lighter is less strain when you carry your bag, less baggage fees, less dealing with lost luggage and less hassle.

Road Warriors: Do you have any additional suggestions on packing? Please feel free to leave a comment here!

Phuket Thailand: Idyllic SE Asian Destination

I traveled extensively in SE Asia when I worked for 3M. It became one of my favorite regions to visit. I especially loved Thailand. The people were so friendly and the scenery is wonderful. One of our VPs was so enthralled by Thailand that he chose to live there in retirement. I also felt I might retire there. When I became engaged, I asked my wife to be where she wanted to go on our honeymoon. She chose SE Asia, a land she had never seen. In 1988, our honeymoon was to Singapore, Thailand, and Hong Kong. We spent the majority of our time in Thailand in Bangkok and Phuket. Phuket is a Thai island with beautiful beaches and breathtaking landscapes off of the Andaman sea southwest of the Thailand mainland. Few Americans knew about Phuket back then. We met only one American that time. We stayed in the new Le Meridien hotel which was a short plane ride from Bangkok, and a 40 minute drive over unimproved roads. We always wanted to go back, so we returned in 2013, twenty-five years later. As one would expect, sleepy Phuket has become a thriving tourist destination. This time we stayed at the incredible Banyan Tree Phuket. Banyan Tree properties are known for their luxury service and this one did not disappoint. We stayed in one of the luxury suites with our own secluded outdoor private pool with bedroom and living room. The doors to the bedroom opened up directly to the pool and were just a few steps away. At the other end of the pool, you had your own private cabana to sit and contemplate how fortunate you are to be staying here.

We visited Phuket both times in June, which is in the rainy season. On our 25th anniversary trip we did encounter some rain each day. We compensated by adjusting our schedules to be sure to be outside during the times when it was not raining, and did inside activities and tours during the rainy time. This is good advice for all travelers. Have the freedom to revise your activities based on the weather.

If you go to Phuket today, there are some places and events worth considering, depending upon your interests. Check out Koh Phing Kan, known as James Bond Island, where the “Man with the Golden Gun” and its signature rocky pinnacles are picturesque. You can get a tour from Phuket to this protected region via speedboat, longboat or kayak. Or perhaps a day tour of Phi Phi Island with its stunning archipelago flora and fauna and wonderful beach instead.

In Phuket City, consider Muay Thai Boxing on Patong Beach, or at the Saphan Hin Stadium. Check out the Bug Buddha 146 feet tall at the top of Nakkerd Hills. Visit the Bangla Road nightlife with exotic girls and lady boys. Or visit some of the important temples.

For shows, you might consider Simon Cabaret show, which is the biggest trans cabaret show in Phuket. You might not believe your eyes. And for a show the whole family would enjoy, try out the FantaSea Show at Kamla Beach. You might just see more elephants on stage at one time than you would ever see in your life.

Best time to go to Phuket is November to February, the high tourist season. After that, it gets hotter. Mid May through October is the monsoon (rainy) season and to be avoided unless you are looking for low pricing. Getting to Phuket from Minneapolis will take three flights. On Delta or its Skyteam partners, connecting flights via Seattle and Seoul, Guanzhou,  or Shanghai are available. You can fly Sun Country to Chicago and then Emirates Air via Dubai. Other flights are also available. Contact us for information.