Traveling While on Dialysis

Being on dialysis does not mean that your traveling days are over.  Many patients travel to destinations all over the U.S. as well as overseas. Whether you are taking your second honeymoon, visiting friends or family, it only takes some advance planning.  Our experienced staff will assist you in finding a location for treatment wherever your destination takes you. 

If you are planning a trip to our area for business or pleasure, contact us to arrange your treatments at one of our clinics where you will continue your treatments in a pleasant, supportive atmosphere while away from home on business or just exploring the sights and sounds Chattanooga has to offer.  We can also help if you are thinking of relocating to our area.

Whether you are traveling or relocating, our staff will:

  • Answer your dialysis travel questions, including insurance coverage for treatments
  • Locate a dialysis facility closest to your destination
  • Make your treatment reservations for you

Talk to your Social Worker at your clinic to begin the process.  He or she will contact us and begin the planning that will make your trip enjoyable and as stress free as possible.


  • PLAN ahead.  Start as early as possible.  We recommend a minimum of one month for planning your trip. You may wish to start earlier if your travels take you to popular destinations or you are traveling in the summer months or during the holidays as these are heavy travel times.
  • BE PREPARED as there may be occasions when a facility may not be able to honor your request and you may have to accept a less desirable dialysis day or shift, depending on what is available at the destination facility.  You may have to travel further from your destination to receive treatment if the requested clinic is full.
  • EMERGENCY TRAVEL:  Most dialysis facilities will make  every effort to accommodate patients in the event of an emergency such as illness or death in the family.  Your records can be faxed ahead, or you can hand carry them with you. In many instances, arrangements can be made within 24 - 48 hours.  This should be done in true emergency situations ONLY.
  • Traveling while active on a TRANSPLANT list: It will be important to include your transplant center in your travel planning.  You will want to make sure they have your number to be able to contact you while you are traveling. Discuss your plans with your transplant coordinator.  You need to consider: Will your travel plans allow you to return on time in case a kidney becomes available?
  • INSURANCE COVERAGE during your travel:
    • Medicare will cover 80% of your treatment costs within the U.S. and its territories.
    • Secondary insurance will cover the remaining 20%.  Some policies may require you to pay that up front and bill the insurance later.
    • Most state Medicaid programs will not pay for treatment outside of your home state. If you have Medicaid as a secondary policy and choose to travel, you will likely have to pay your share (20%) up front.
    • Private or Employer Group policies will require prior approval for treatments away from your home facility.
    • Your social worker or "transient coordinator" will be able to tell you ahead of time what your financial obligations will be.
  • UPON ARRIVAL, check with the center as soon as possible to confirm your appointment. Find out how to contact the facility doctor. You may also want to speak with the Social Worker or the facility Administrator and schedule a visit to meet the staff so you will feel more comfortable when you go for your treatment.
  • WHAT IF I GET SICK?  Unfortunately this may happen.    Although you hope to avoid it, you may even require hospitalization.  Your transient treatment team will be prepared for this possibility and will provide the necessary care for you during your hospital stay.  The doctor caring for you will most likely talk with your home doctor to coordinate your care. Being prepared will help to lessen the stress:
  • If traveling alone, make sure your family knows your travel plans
    • Have IMPORTANT phone numbers with you for your primary care doctor, kidney doctor, your home and transient dialysis center, etc.
    • Make sure that anyone traveling with you knows where you keep your medications and your records
    • HAND CARRY essential information, medications and essential medical supplies in case of the unexpected (luggage can be lost).
    • Make sure you have enough medications to last the entire trip with some extra to carry you through in case of emergency.  You may wish to carry written prescriptions just in case your stay away from home is extended.

WHAT IF I DON'T PLAN AHEAD?  This is not wise and we advise against it..  In most instances facilities will decline to accept patients without prior arrangements  even if you carry your medical records with you.  You will most likely be directed to the nearest hospital with dialysis capability for evaluation.  Treatment will only be performed if the evaluating physician deems it necessary based on your lab work.  If your condition does not qualify you for emergent dialysis, you will have to return to the hospital emergency room again when you become ill and in need of treatment.  Most hospitals do not perform routine outpatient dialysis treatments..   

  • THINGS TO CONSIDER to make your experience less STRESSFUL
    • When making a hotel reservation, you can request a first-floor room or a handicapped-accessible room, if stairs or distances are a problem
    • Know your limitations.  Don't overdo it!
    • Be realistic when planning activities. 
    • Allow enough time to enjoy sightseeing outings and activities without becoming overtired.
    • Be sure to watch your diet and fluid intake.
    • If you do become ill, call the dialysis center or local doctor as instructed.

Have you ever dreamed of a cruise, but thought it impossible now that you are on dialysis?  It is possible. To explore that opportunity, go to  The current cruise calendar can be found at

Travel Tips -The National Kidney Foundation: A to Z Health Guide (

We wish you the best in your travels and look forward to seeing you. And while you are visiting our area, here is a great resource for what to see and do. 

Chattanooga Kidney Centers 3810 Brainerd Road · Chattanooga, TN 37411 · 423.486.9510