People who have a rare medical condition often need to travel to receive care at a special medical center or to take part in a research study. The following resources can help with travel and lodging costs. These organizations provide information about free or discounted land or air travel, specialized medical care during transport, and supportive lodging options. Some organizations have specific medical or financial eligibility criteria, so check their websites or contact them to learn about their requirements. The GARD Information Center provides these resources to help with your search and not as an endorsement of services.
What organizations can help with the cost of travel?
Below is a list of some organizations that can help patients arrange free or discounted transportation within the United States. Some organizations provide help to all patients in need. Others focus on specific groups of patients such as veterans, children, or cancer patients.
Organizations for all patients:
National Patient Travel Center – Provides information about all forms of charitable, long-distance, medically-related transportation. Call their Helpline at 800-296-1217 for a referral to the charitable program that best meets your needs.
Air Charity Network - Provides access to member organizations that offer free air transportation to specialized health care facilities or distant destinations needed during family, community, or national crisis. Call 877-621-7177 to be automatically routed to a member organization in your region.
LifeLine Pilots – Facilitates free air transportation provided by volunteer pilots for passengers with medical and humanitarian needs. View the Request a Flight page on their website or call 800-822-7972 for assistance.
Mercy Medical Angels – Provides help with travel for specialized medical evaluation, diagnosis, or treatment. Call 888-675-1405 for help arranging transportation.
Miracle Flights – Provides free domestic or international travel to U.S. facilities for medical treatment, second opinions, and follow-up for patients in need. Call 800-359-1711 to find out if you qualify for assistance.
Organizations for specific groups:
Angel Flight for Veterans – Helps veterans or active duty military who need to travel for specialized medical evaluation, diagnosis, treatment, or rehabilitation. Patients needing help can contact the National Patient Travel Center at 800-296-1217.
Children’s Flight of Hope - Provides free air transportation to and from medical facilities in the eastern United States for seriously ill and injured children. To request a flight, submit an online flight request or call 919-460-4334 for assistance.
Corporate Angel Network - Arranges free travel on corporate jets for cancer patients, bone marrow donors, and bone marrow recipients. Call 914-328-1313 within three weeks of your appointment at a cancer treatment center.
What organizations can help with the cost of lodging?
The following organizations can help you find a free or discounted place to stay when you travel for medical care in the United States. We also suggest that you contact your medical center to ask about local options for lodging assistance.
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 or call 800-542-9730.
Joe’s House - A nonprofit organization providing cancer patients and their families an online list of nationwide discounted lodging near hospitals and treatment centers. To find lodging, call 877-563-7468 or use their online directory
Ronald McDonald House Charities – Provides families with housing and home-cooked meals, at little or no cost, close to their hospitalized child. To request a stay, contact the social services department at the hospital where your child will receive treatment.
At the National Institutes of Health (NIH):
The Children’s Inn at NIH – A nonprofit residence dedicated to serving the families of children involved in pediatric research at the NIH Clinical Center in Bethesda, MD. First time reservations must be made by your medical team. Call 800-644-4660 for information.
Edmond J. Safra Family Lodge at NIH - Offers a home-like place of respite for families and loved ones of adult patients who are receiving care at the NIH Clinical Center in Bethesda, MD. Guests must be referred by the NIH Institute or Center in charge of the patient’s research study. Call 301-496-6500 for information about referrals and use of the facility.
Last updated: 8/11/2016