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Holiday Travel Tips

Inogen One G4 next to coffee mug

When you have COPD, or any other lung disease requiring supplemental oxygen, preparing for holiday travel is a little different. We are here to help make your travel as easy as possible this season. 

Planning Your Holiday Travel

Traveling for the holidays can be joyful and exciting or, if you have a lung disease like COPD, it can require a lot of careful planning. If you use supplemental oxygen, planning for travel can be particularly tricky. 

Traveling with compressed or liquid oxygen tanks requires an eye to detail when it comes to planning and comes with some restrictions. These oxygen tanks are not allowed on airplanes, and some cruise ships restrict them, too, so any traveling with this type of oxygen may be restricted to car or train.

Since compressed and liquid oxygen tanks can only hold a finite amount of oxygen, you must ensure that you will have enough oxygen with you so that you do not run out. This may mean bringing several large, unwieldy tanks with you to get you through the trip. Imagine trying to lug multiple oxygen tanks through a crowded train station. For many people, this makes holiday travel more trouble than it’s worth. 

Traveling with a portable oxygen concentrator, on the other hand, is an entirely different experience. If you have a portable oxygen concentrator, many of the anxiety-inducing travel complications associated with supplemental oxygen no longer apply. Many portable oxygen concentrators, including all of our Inogen One models, are FAA approved, meaning you can bring them with you on any airplane. You can also bring a portable oxygen concentrator with you in the car, on a train or on a boat

Because a portable oxygen concentrator pulls from the surrounding atmosphere, purifying and concentrating the air to provide medical oxygen to you, you can enjoy an endless supply of oxygen as long as your unit has power. Additionally, many portable oxygen concentrators are small and easy to carry. Our Inogen One models range between 2.8 and 4.9 pounds, and are quite small, so making your way through an airport or train station is significantly easier than attempting to roll a heavy oxygen tank behind you. If you need to travel with supplemental oxygen, a portable oxygen concentrator is the ideal way to go. 

6 Travel Tips for People with COPD

Traveling is always a little stressful, but for someone with COPD who depends on supplemental oxygen, it can be a unique challenge. Holiday travel is particularly busy—therefore, it requires special attention. There are a few tips that can help make traveling with COPD a little less stressful and a lot smoother and safer. Here’s how to get through your holiday travel with supplemental oxygen this year. 

  • Do your research first.
    If you want to travel for the holidays, it is helpful to do a little research in the months leading up to your travel dates. Traveling with oxygen can require special paperwork, an updated prescription and more, so look into what might be required before you make any concrete plans. That way, you can get started on the necessary preparation before buying any tickets.
  • Make an appointment with your doctor before making travel plans.
    It is important to see your doctor before booking any travel. You will need to make sure you are up to date on your vaccinations and that you are in good enough health to travel—especially if you have recently experienced a COPD exacerbation. If your doctor says you can travel, discuss any possible changes you might need in your oxygen therapy prescription for airplane travel or traveling to a different climate or elevation. Get a copy of your oxygen prescription, just in case, and get any medication you use refilled during this visit, too. You can also get started on any paperwork you might need in order to bring your supplemental oxygen with you during travel. 
  • Check with your travel provider to make sure you meet any requirements.
    There are different requirements depending on what kind of supplemental oxygen you use and how you will be traveling. For example, if you travel by airplane with your portable oxygen concentrator, you may be required to present a statement of medical necessity detailing your medical condition and your need for supplemental oxygen during the flight. Each airline, train company or cruise line may have slightly different requirements, so it is essential that you check with your travel company to make sure you can meet all requirements well before you leave for your trip. 
  • Prepare to travel safely to stay healthy.
    As someone with COPD, it is important to take special care during travel, as you may be exposed to any number of germs and viruses that could jeopardize your health. Plan ahead to travel as safely as possible. Allow for plenty of time to get where you are going during travel so that you do not need to rush and exacerbate your shortness of breath or increase your anxiety. It is also essential to bring along a few extra supplies to protect your health. Keep a small bottle of 60%+ alcohol-based hand sanitizer with you to wash your hands when soap and water are not available. Wash your hands frequently, but especially before eating, drinking or touching your oxygen equipment. Try not to touch your face to keep germs away from your eyes, nose and mouth. Finally, wear a cloth face covering during travel to protect yourself from viruses that could cause a COPD exacerbation or serious illness. 
  • Avoid COPD triggers whenever possible.
    Traveling comes with a variety of unknowns, so do your best to avoid COPD triggers where you can. Prepare for the weather by bringing the proper clothing, including a scarf or mask in cold weather to help protect your airways. If you will be traveling somewhere hot and humid, make sure the place you stay has adequate air conditioning. If you are staying in a hotel, request a non-smoking room and floor, and ask about allergens (including pets) in case that is a trigger for you. If smog is a trigger, consider bringing a filtering mask to protect your lungs. Talk to friends and family members about your COPD triggers, like cleaning products or scented candles, to make sure they know what to avoid when you visit.
  • Have everything you need in case of a COPD exacerbation.
    COPD exacerbations are a part of living with COPD, but they can get serious very quickly, so it is important to be prepared for a flare-up, even when you are traveling. Find the closest hospital to the place you will be staying, and ask your doctor or insurance company if they can recommend doctors in the area you will be traveling to during the holidays. Hotels may also have resources available. Make sure you keep a copy of your oxygen prescription with you at all times, as well as a list of all of your medications, while you travel. 

Portable Oxygen Concentrator Accessories That Make Travel Easier

Packing your oxygen equipment for travel may seem overwhelming, but it can be easy with the right equipment and accessories. You will need your oxygen delivery device, whether it is a tank or a portable oxygen concentrator, along with tubing and nasal cannulas. If you use an oxygen tank, you will need to bring multiple tanks, as well as finding an oxygen provider in the place you travel to that can refill or replace your tank when your oxygen runs out. 

If you use a portable oxygen concentrator, like the Inogen One, just bring your Inogen One unit, an extra battery, your AC charger and DC adapter and you are ready to go. Carry all of your portable oxygen concentrator gear in any of Inogen’s specially designed carry bags, and consider using our lightweight Inogen One G3/G5 Cart if you use the Inogen One G3 or G5 for ease.

Traveling During a Pandemic

Right now, travel is especially complicated with the COVID-19 pandemic. For COPD patients and other high-risk populations, travel is not recommended[1] at this time. However, if you must travel for the holidays, it is recommended that you take the following steps:[1]

  • Always wear a cloth face covering in public settings, including anytime you will be around anyone outside your household.
  • Practice social distancing by staying at least 6 feet apart from anyone not from your household.
  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
  • Avoid touching your face mask, eyes, nose, mouth and nasal cannula.
  • Avoid anyone who might be sick.

Inogen Makes Holiday Travel Easier

Inogen was founded with the goal of making oxygen therapy easier and better for patients. We wanted to improve patients’ freedom, independence and mobility while using oxygen, and with that goal in mind, we developed some of the smallest, easiest to use portable oxygen concentrators on the market. Our products make daily oxygen therapy easier, and traveling with the Inogen One is easy, too. All of our Inogen One models are FAA approved, and fit easily under an airplane or train seat, or at your feet in any vehicle. Because they are so quiet, small and lightweight, our Inogen One models are ideal for travel. Find out more about how we can improve your life on oxygen therapy by contacting us today. With Inogen, you can continue to travel while getting the oxygen you need. 

Oxygen. Anytime. Anywhere.


[1] “COVID-19: Holiday Celebrations.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 19 Nov. 2020, www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/holidays.html.


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