Quote of the Day: "No losers, no winners."
When was the last time you traveled? Most Chronic Kidney Disease - especially those who conduct Dialysis - rarely travel because according to patients, "It is a huge hassle." Who can blame them? Too often, patients must wait in long security lines, deal with extended wait times for boarding, pay extra if they carry a heavy portable Dialysis Machine (weighs more than 50 lbs), maneuver inadequate facilities, deal with prejudice, correct misinformation, and in some cases are charged higher prices than other travelers. This can be very frustrating and lead to anxiety, stress, and even fear of traveling. However, traveling can greatly improve a patient's quality of life by feeling more normal, visiting family, relieving stress, and improving freedom. Hence, those with Chronic Kidney Disease should know that they have rights to make traveling easier and more affordable, as outlined in legislation such as The Americans with Disabilities Act as well as The Air Carrier Access Act.
Beyond the fact that the previously stated laws guarantee that travelers with disabilities such as those conducting Dialysis receive equal treatment, they require service providers (hotels, motels, airlines, trains, etc.) to take steps to accommodate Hemodialysis and Peritoneal Dialysis passengers. The following tips and resources will help Chronic Kidney Disease, and Dialysis patients, as well as their companions, anticipate and avoid snags of accessible travel, limit expenses, improve experiences, and help increase overall quality of life:
1. Skipping the long security lines. Dialysis patients who use a wheelchair or are unable to stand without the use of a cane, crutch or walker may be pleased to learn that they will be able to avoid long security lines since most airlines provide designated and briskly efficient Transportation Security Administration screeners by request. The New York Times suggested that it helps patients, "whizz past the security line."
2. Airlines cannot count Dialysis Machines as a carry-on item. Also, Baggage Liability Limits don’t apply if the airline loses or harms your machine—they must pay for your machine based on the purchase price
3. Guaranteed pre-boarding of your airplane. Airlines must allow (but cannot force) a person with a disability such as those on Dialysis to pre-board the plane free of additional charges.
4. Early Hotel Room check-ins. Service providers are required by law in many cases to accommodate travelers with special needs such as early check-ins to hotel rooms. However, most need some time to make the necessary arrangements. Mention your needs at the time of reservation, and call the provider 24 to 48 hours before your arrival to confirm that proper accommodations have been made.
5. When booking a flight or hotel room, be specific and clear when describing a disability. Not all service providers know the Chronic Kidney Disease Community "lingo" and may not understand how serious the disease truly is. Give as many details about what you can and can't do, and don't downplay the severity of your situation. The more information a service provider has, the better they will be able to accommodate you.
Recommended Reading: Steps to a Stress-free Vacation While on Dialysis
Be sure to carry medical alert information. Do not forget to order your No BP/No Stick: Fistula Protector Wristband and try to carry your medical alert papers (primary doctor's name, medications you are taking, etc.) in a place that a medical professional can find easily (wallet, necklace, pocket).
Recommended Reading: Travel Does Not Have To End For Chronic Kidney Disease Patients When Dialysis Begins
Now that you know your rights as a Dialysis patient, travel may be a smoother and more fulfilling experience. If you encounter any problems, then feel free to report the issue(s) to the Department of Transportation, Disability Hotline at 1-800-778-4838 (voice) or 1-800-455-9880 (TTY).
Recommended Reading: Tips Chronic Kidney Disease Patients Must Know Before Traveling
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