How to Get Free Medical Travel (Planes, Trains, Hotels, etc)

Art: Robin Mead

“I used Mercy Medical Angels to get flights to California for multiple surgeries. It was free and easy to apply for! They need lead time to check financials and verify with your doctor.” – Erika

Local Travel

🌷 How to Get Free Transportation to Your Local Doctor


🌷 National Patient Travel 

🌷 Angel Flight and Angel Flight Central, Inc.  and Angel Flight East

🌷  Mercy Medical Angels 

🌷  Patient Airlift Services (PALS) 

🌷 Air Charity Network 

🌷 LifeLine Pilots 

🌷 Wings of Hope

🌷 Hospitals that provide free airline tickets for medical transportation.

Bus, Train and Cars

🌷 Bus tickets, train tickets, and gas cards: Angel Wheels

🌷 Amtrak gives 15% discount to people with disabilities.


🌷 Healthcare Hospitality Network – A nationwide professional association of nearly 200 nonprofit organizations that provide lodging and support services to patients, families, and their loved ones who are receiving medical treatment far from home. To find lodging in a specific area, use their online search form

🌷 If you are traveling to a hospital, ask the Travel/Concierge Service or Patient Assistance Department at the hospital if they have a travel program for airfare and/or hotels. You can also inquire directly with hotels in the area to see if they have a “medical rate”

🌷 Some insurance companies will reimburse for transportation, lodging, and food if you have to travel for medical care. You may need to get pre-approved and prove that this procedure cannot be done in your area.

Children & Families

All programs listed above serve children and families. In addition:

🌷 Shriner’s hospitals for children provides free medical transport to their hospitals Air flights through Wings of Hope

🌷 Miracle Flights

🌷 Children’s Flight of Hope

🌷 Ronald McDonald House Charities

Special Populations

🌷 Angel Flight for Veterans (veterans)

🌷 Corporate Angel Network (cancer) and Joe’s House (cancer)

Making the Trip

🌷 Amtrak trains have a mediocre wheelchair service that may provide you with a wheelchair and assistant who can push the chair and help you get to the train. Be prepared to speak up for yourself a lot and possibly get stranded.

🌷 Airports also have wheelchair services and they are much more helpful. Use them. You will be very glad you did. Learn more: Sleepy Girl Airport Wheelchair Tips

🌷 Airlines will allow you to bring an animal on board with you if it is an emotional support animal or service animal or psychiatric service animal and you have a mental health provider’s letter.

🌷 Letters for assistance animals for airline travel have slightly different rules than for housing. The letter must be signed by a mental health provider and can expire. Sample letter can be found on this page: Rosemary Gets an Emotional Support Animal

🌷 Some airlines will allow you to get a free additional seat if you have a medical need for an extra seat. Some airlines offer a discounted ticket if to a companion if you need a caretaker to travel with you because of your disability. Please check the individual airline’s policy.

Document Your Medical Travel Expenses

Keep track of all your medical transportation expenses. This can include:

  • Anytime you travel to a doctor, pharmacy, or health practitioner
  • Taxis, bus, or subway fares
  • Mileage rate if you are driving (IRS mileage rate)
  • Mileage rate if someone is driving you (IRS mileage rate)
  • Hotels, planes, food – If you need to travel out of town for medical appointment

There are three ways that documenting your medical travel may help you:

  1. Can make your Food Stamps go up
  2. If you live in certain kinds of affordable housing, can make your rent go down
  3. Can lower your taxes

Learn more about how this works: How to Document Medical Expenses

“When we lived 2 1/2 hours away from the hospital, we used Shriner’s Children’s Hospital Wings of Hope program. A van drove us there and back, sometimes as frequently as weekly.

“One time we took a flight. We had to get to a local small airport, and took a small plane there. They paid for the flight and a hotel.”

– Delphinium


🌷 This page is part of the free online guide: How to Be Poor in America

🌷 Art on this page by Robin Mead and Elizabeth D’Angelo.

🌷 Page Updated: 8/1/19


🌷 Please comment below with stories, ideas, questions or suggestions. Please let us know if any links on this page stop working. 

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2 thoughts on “How to Get Free Medical Travel (Planes, Trains, Hotels, etc)”

  1. This site has outstanding articles/expertise; I tell everyone to follow you for more great advice to avoid complications. many of us wish we would have known about these articles years/decades ago!!


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