Travelling with PH

Travel Resources


Tips from a PH Nurse Coordinator

By Carolyn Pugliese, RN, MSN, Nurse Coordinator Ottawa Pulmonary Hypertension Clinic

Travel can be stressful. For individuals with pulmonary hypertension, there are several important factors to be considered, especially when flying.  Preparing in advance for your trip will make your holiday travel more enjoyable. Below are some tips and information that will make planning your trip, and travelling, a little more comfortable.


Tips from PH Patients

  1. Pack as light as you can.
  2. Make sure your suitcase and carry-on luggage have wheels.
  3. Make sure all your medications are in your carry-on with the proper labels and official prescription receipts.
  4. Take extra medication in case you get delayed or stuck somewhere.
  5. Order oxygen in advance.
  6. Ask for a wheel chair if you need it. (Some companies will wheel you on and off the ferry/plane etc as needed)
  7. Find out in advance if hotel has elevators and request to have room close to one.

If you have any tips you would like to add, please contact PHA Canada at

Travel Tips from a PH Veteran 

Jas James has thrived with PH for 12 years. Her travel tips were published in PHA Canada's Spring 2013 issue of Connections magazine. Her advice was so comprehensive that we've published it again here. 

"Based on my personal travel experience, I’ve come up with travel tips that I hope PH patients find helpful. It’s been suggested that I travel to places where there is a PH clinic nearby, or to remain within Canada and the US. Of course it’s always great to have someone travel with you. Read on for more important considerations to make before travelling. 

Check what you need to fly: Make sure you talk to your PH doctor if you decide to take a flight. Your doctor may do an altitude simulation test to see if you need oxygen for your flight. In my case, I’m able to fly without oxygen, but you should be sure to check. Make sure and have medical insurance if you are leaving the province or country. I also try and have a backup plan in case I do need medical attention as far as getting back to Canada.

Prepare for your flight: Consider what you’ll need on your flight. Always carry your medications on board with you: I always take extra along in case I have a delay. Make sure you carry your oxygen prescription with you and have your medications in their original containers with labels. I also carry my medical insurance policy and itinerary with me as, well as emailing copies to my family.            

Pack light: If you’re travelling alone, try to pack as light as you can. This makes the travel as easy as possible without extra items weighing you down. I only take oral medications, so it's not a big problem for me.

The day before: Do things in order to prepare for your journey. Watch your sodium intake and make sure to get enough rest. It’s also important to consider any time zone change: you’ll have to start adjusting your medications in the morning a little at a time on the way.

Be comfortable: Wear comfortable clothing when flying. I wear Crocs so they are easy to get off and on through security without having to bend much, and they’re great if your feet swell. I use a small shoulder purse and a light nylon backpack so my hands are free to wheel my carry-on bag with my oxygen concentrator. Try and get an aisle seat so you can get up easy and move around .There's also less walking if you can get a seat near the front of the plane.

Remember your oxygen needs:  I use oxygen at night, and have to rent a concentrator wherever I stay. I’ve found it difficult at times to find a supplier. Recently, my insurance company agreed to provide me with a portable concentrator. It fits in a rolling carry-on bag that I can slide under the airplane seat in front of me. It can run up to 3 L continuously, so it’s perfect for night time use. I did have to get a letter for the airline stating I would not use it on board and would not need medical assistance. It is great now even to take in my car if I just have an overnight stay somewhere.

Get help: I always try and have someone drop me off and pick me up at airports. It really makes life easier than having to try and park a car and get all my belongings."

Contributed by: Jas James, PH Patient, Cobble Hill, BC.


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