Traveling With Oxygen



  • Surface Travel
  • Air Travel (11/97)
  • Surface Travel

    There is a concentrator that runs off a car battery; built into a Samsonite suitcase, as I recall, though I haven’t seen it advertised lately. But rather than purchase an expensive piece of equipment for temporary use, I’d suggest:

    1. D or E cylinders. Easy to throw in the back of a car, can be refilled at welding shops. If the flow rate is less than 5 lpm, I’d add an Oxymatic, a conserving device which doesn’t blow the oxygen in all the time, but only intermittantly. This can triple the time a cylinder lasts: an E cylinder lasts about 2.5 hrs on 2 lpm, around 7 hours with the Oxymatic. You can get aluminum (i.e., lightweight) D and E cylinders.

    2. Consider a liquid system. We supply a liquid base unit which straps in the back seat of the car; portable liquid carriers can be filled from it. The length of time it lasts depends on the flow rate. Oxymizers can be used with liquid too. Refill requires service/oxygen from a home oxygen company.

    Both of these are covered by Medicare; we usually work/negotiate with the patient’s usual oxygen supplier if somebody’s visiting from out of town, since Medicare only pays one oxygen bill per month.

    A First Person Account

    A couple months ago I undertook a cross country roadtrip and yes, I brought my ever-faithful oxygen tank with me along with everything else I could possibly pack in the car. I use a liquid oxygen setup and it actually worked out quite well, all things considered. I strapped a 40 lb reservoir in the back seat – the one I had was kind of bulky (took up the space of one person – maybe 2 1/2 ft high, 1 1/2 ft diameter) but they might make them smaller, Im not sure. Plus, I took along 2 smaller portable tanks for hiking, etc. Using 2L/min at night for ~8-10 hours each night I think the 40 lb. tank lasted about a 1 1/2 to 2 weeks. If you call any O2 supply company they can calculate approx. how long a tank will last based on liter flow and how often you need O2 (ie, continuously or just at night). But be aware that other things can affect this time (the rate of evaporation is much faster in hot weather and alos leakage can occur if the tank is not perfectly upright). When I started running low I just called the nearest branch office and told them that I needed a refill ( I used LinCare which has offices pretty much all over the US). They prefer at least a day notice but there were times when I couldn’t wait that long. If its a dire emergency you could probably get it filled at any relatively large hospital – just make sure you carry a copy of your O2 prescription with you. If its only a 2 or 3 day trip then refilling the tank probably wont be an issue but its better to be safe than sorry!!


    Air Travel (11/97)

    Question: My husband just called USAir to ask how I should bring my portable 02 along. In other words, should I take it in my carry-on or pack it in my luggage and check it in. Anyway, they said NO portable tanks on the plane AT ALL, even if they’re checked in and not being used. What am I supposed to do? I need the portable 02 when we get down to Florida for walking around, etc. (for sleeping I have a home care company there “lending” me a concentrator for the hotel room)

    Answer: You have to rent from an O2 company in Florida. That’s what I always had to do when I traveled. My insurance paid for it, knowing I couldn’t provide my own. Remember the plane that exploded and sank in the swamp in/around Florida last year? That’s the risk if you have flammable stuff in the hold! Personally…even though its an inconvenience to me, I’m glad they (most airlines) don’t allow it. Some of my bottles have been ‘leakers’ (with different companies) from time to time. Also, the airline has no way of knowing WHAT you ACTUALLY have in those bottles. For all they know, you could be a terrorist with an explosive in the tanks. Anybody can steal an O2 bottle and fill it with something else.