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The Ultimate Guide to Flying with TPN Series Part 2: How to Pack

Hi-dee-ho! Welcome to part 2 of the Ultimate Guide to Flying with TPN series. Today’s post is all about how I pack my Total Parenteral Nutrition for air travel. 

Packing TPN

I use 2 carry-on size suitcases when I travel with TPN. One holds all of my medical supplies and the other is where I pack my TPN. If you’re on TPN I’m sure you know how heavy it can get when you’re trying to move several bags and ice packs at once. It’s friken heavy so a suitcase on wheels is a must for me. A rolling cooler is another option. You can see the one I used a few years back here

As long as your luggage fits in the overhead compartment of the airplane you can bring it on board at no extra charge and it will not count toward your carry-on limit. I prefer to take it onto the plane myself instead of checking it with the potential of loss or damage. 

Most ice packs don’t stay cold long enough so I did a little research (and by me I mean Dan did) and we found 2 different kinds that have worked wonderfully for flying with TPN. 

FlexiFreeze comes in sheets and you can cut them to different sizes. They are also flexible which helps line all sides of the luggage with ice. The Cooler Shock packs are great quality; they can last 24-48 hours. Both kinds can be used over and over again.  

The first thing I do is line the sides and bottom of the luggage with the FlexiSheets and then I put 2 of the Cooler Shock ice packs into the zipper compartment so that they will be on top. 

Once the luggage is lined with ice I alternate filling it with TPN and ice packs so that there is ice between each bag of nutrition. Sort of like making TPN lasagna and it ends up looking like this picture from my last trip. 

I keep my doctors note for travel in a Ziploc bag to protect it from moisture and then place it in the outside zipper of the luggage so that it is handy in case I need it (which I never have). 

That is pretty much all there is to it when it comes to how I pack my TPN for flying. The fact that the luggage rolls and fits into the plane are the most valuable things to me because it would be heavy otherwise and too much for me to handle and I don’t have to worry about it getting lost or damaged.

Packing Medical Supplies

One of the most important things when it comes to travel with TPN is that you make sure you have checked and double checked that you have everything with you. It’s not a good idea to wait until the last minute to write your packing list because you’re more likely to forget something if you are rushing. 

I explain TPN kits more in this video as well as go over just how useful it is to pack this way while on vacation so that you can focus on what really matters and less on managing your nutrition… I mean, your nutrition matters but you get what I’m saying!

Instead of throwing everything loosely into my luggage and then digging through it every day of my vacation to find what I need, I make TPN “kits.” I put everything that I need for one infusion into a large Ziploc and label it with each day of my vacation. I also make kits for my port so that if it needs to be changed while I am away everything will be easy to find because it’s all in one kit. 

Everything Else

I won’t go over every single thing I pack but I will mention some of the things you may not have thought about in case it helps. Click on the images to find these items on Amazon. See disclosure at the bottom for Amazon Affiliate links.

Sani-Cloth

I use to sanitize my airplane seat and the area of my hotel room that I set my TPN up at. This is the same stuff used at the hospital in travel sized packets.

Hand Sanitizer

The cap on this makes it my favorite because it doesn't leak during travel like the other ones tend to do.

Thermometer

With a central line it's important to keep track of your temperature. Anything >100.5 warrants a call to your doctor as it could be the start of a line infection.

Absorbent pads

Suggested to me by my TPN doctors to use for setting up TPN. These are puppy pads which come much cheaper than the pads used in the hospital and work just as well.

That about covers how I pack my TPN for flying. Continue on to post #3 to learn about what happens at the airport when you travel with IV nutrition. 

Sara

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