Having a feeding tube or IV line can make traveling stressful. Learn to enjoy travel with nutrition support by planning ahead and knowing what to expect.
Top 6 Steps To Prepare for Travel
- Consult with your healthcare provider prior to arranging your travel to determine if it is appropriate and how to handle an emergency while away. You may find it helpful to have your physician write a letter to explain the need for the supplies and formula you will be traveling with. Have the physician’s letter accessible to you at all times, along with a day’s worth of supplies.
- Prepare for a possible emergency by having a plan of action. Identify hospitals on your travel route and where you will be staying. Discuss with your physician appropriate steps to take if you become ill or are unable to give yourself your nutrition while away.
- Make arrangements for refrigeration at your destination for storing your PN bag or opened, unused cans of formula.
- Prepare your list of supply needs ahead of time. Pack a couple extra of each of your commonly used supplies in the event of loss or breakage. At a minimum, you should always have flushing supplies with you.
- Make a list of phone numbers for your doctors, agencies, and home health companies. If you need assistance or have a problem, this will make it easy to contact someone.
- Call Option Care Health in advance of your travel to notify us so we can support you and help arrange your delivery.
Flying? Use the following tips to assist you prior to your air travel:
- Contact the airline, train, or transportation security authorities at least 72 hours in advance of your travel as to whether your medical supplies are allowed through security checkpoints.
- When traveling by air, pack 1-2 days’ worth of formula/TPN and supplies in your carry-on bag. You may need to obtain a letter from your physician, explaining the medical necessity of the formula/supplies, to expedite the TSA screening process. TPN will need to be in a cooler with ice packs while not in use.
- Carry feeding supplies and formula separately from other luggage to make screening easier
- Put everything in zippered plastic bags so that when you get to the security checkpoint, it will be easy to pull them out without having to dig through your whole carry-on bag.
- Declare your items to a security officer ahead of time. Security checkpoint inspectors may choose to test your pump or inspect more closely for safety reasons.
- Allow extra time in case you run into delays at security. This is advised for all travelers, but going through the security screening process with larger-than-usual quantities of medical liquids and individuals with special needs can take extra time.
- Consider applying for the TSA Pre✓® option if you travel regularly. This may expedite your time through security.
TSA Tips and Assistance:
- The TSA Cares hotline can provide additional assistance when traveling by air. They can be reached at 1-855-787-2227 or TSA-ContactCenter@dhs.gov. The hotline’s hours of operation are Monday-Friday from 8am-11pm EST and weekends and holidays from 9am-8pm EST.
- Use the TSA’s Disability Notification Card. This card can be printed from this link and handed to a TSA agent upon arriving at the security checkpoint to make screeners aware that you will need some type of additional consideration during the screening process. The card will not get you out of any part of the screening process, but it will discreetly alert them to your needs.
TSA Website Guidelines:
- “You may bring medically necessary liquids, medications and creams in excess of 3.4 ounces or 100 milliliters in your carry-on bag. Remove them from your carry-on bag to be screened separately from the rest of your belongings. You are not required to place your liquid medication in a plastic zip-top bag. If a liquid, gel, or aerosol declared as medically-necessary alarms, then it may require additional screening and may not be allowed.”
- “Ice packs, freezer packs, gel packs, and other accessories may be presented at the screening checkpoint in a frozen or partially-frozen state to keep medically necessary items cool. All items, including supplies associated with medically necessary liquids such as IV bags, pumps, and syringes must be screened before they will be permitted into the secure area of the airport.”
- “TSA officers may test liquids, gels or aerosols for explosives or concealed prohibited items. If officers are unable to use X-ray to clear these items, they may ask to open the container and transfer the content to a separate empty container or dispose of a small quantity of the content, if feasible.”
- “Inform the TSA officer if you do not want your liquid medication to be screened by X-ray or opened. Additional steps will be taken to clear the liquid and you will undergo additional screening procedures to include a pat-down and screening of other carry-on property.”
Traveling safely with formula for tube feeding:
- In the event your formula must be opened, bring something to pour the formula into, such as empty baby bottles with tight-fitting lids or empty plastic water bottles. To avoid spoilage, travel with a small, soft cooler and ice packs. Remember, opened formula is good for 24 hours when it is kept refrigerated.
- If you use a pump for your feeding, call your Option Care Health coordinator to determine if having an emergency gravity bag for travel is right for you.
- Determine if your travel location has refrigeration for opened, unused formula.
- If traveling outside of the United States, weigh your options to see which method of transport would be best: shipping formula to where you are staying or paying extra luggage fees and taking the formula on the flight. Check with your airline about waived baggage fees for medical supplies.
- If the TSA screener asks you to open the bag to test your parenteral nutrition formula, you should notify the person that you are not able to open the formula because it is a sterile solution. The TSA does not require testing for sterile liquids.
Option Care Health is here to help you live life to the fullest. Learn about options for infusion therapy while traveling and see our Tube Feeding and Parenteral Feeding checklists to help you get ready for your trip and travel safely. Bon voyage!