Iris Mini: Travel Resources

Traveling outside of your home community for treatment or a second opinion can involve driving or flying long distances. Your trip may require overnight or extended stays in unfamiliar cities. While your oncology team focuses on the important job of treating your illness, stressful non-medical concerns, such as the cost of meals, lodging, and your commute, could possibly be overlooked.

The tips below are considerations to help with travel-related costs and stress.

General Tips

  • Don’t be embarrassed to ask for help. Cancer treatment and the associated out-of-pocket costs can put a major dent in your finances. Examples of help from your support system may include asking a friend who frequently travels for airline miles or hotel points, accepting gas cards if people ask what they can do to help support you, or asking a friend to help search for and book a hotel room for you.

  • Consider asking your oncology team to connect you with an oncology social worker or resource specialist. These care team members may be able to help find local resources, such as discounted stays at area hotels, free or reduced hospital parking waivers, or assistance to offset the cost of your commute.

  • Consider searching the Cancer Financial Assistance Coalition (CFAC) by zip code, diagnosis, and type of support for help in areas such as lodging and transportation. In addition, allows you to search for local resources such as transportation assistance.

Overnight Stays

  • There may be philanthropic organizations in your clinic/hospital’s community that own and operate nearby homes that provide rooms for patients in need of reduced-rate accommodations. Review the hospital’s visitor information page on their website before you travel, as local hotel discounts and alternative housing sites may be listed.

  • Depending on your need and availability, your oncology social worker or clinician may refer you to a Hope Lodge. The Hope Lodge provides free lodging, supported by the American Cancer Society in 30 locations throughout the United States. Spaces may be limited, so consider a wait-list spot especially if you know that you will be making several return trips to the area.

  • Joe’s House is an online lodging guide specifically for people with cancer. The site allows you to search by zip code or by name of the facility. Discount codes or a set monetary discount are provided for local hotel options.

Ground Transportation

  • Take advantage of hotels near your treatment center that offer free shuttle service to your facility. This information may be listed on the amenities page of the hotel's website. Consider calling the hotel in advance and ask if they offer travel to and from the hospital. Many cancer centers also offer shuttle service to local hotels. Stop by the hospital information desk or call for this information.

  • Ride share apps such as Uber or Lyft may offer first time user discounts or have promotions that give a percent off their standard rate. In larger cities, these services are usually readily available.

  • Consider specific foundations based on cancer type for travel funds. Some examples:

Air Travel

For qualifying patients who require air travel, some organizations offer discounted or free airfare. These non-profits arrange free flights for medical patients who cannot afford to or are unable to fly commercially.


  • When booking a hotel, consider one that includes “free” breakfast with the reservation. Many hotels offer a full breakfast buffet or at minimum a continental breakfast.

  • Pack a meal or two. Most hotels have mini refrigerators and microwaves in the room. You can save money and satisfy your dietary preferences by bringing food with you (in a cooler if needed).

  • Visit the restaurant and take out tabs in the Yelp app. You can read the reviews and check out menu prices in advance of ordering, saving money by avoiding impulse purchases at the restaurant.

  • Uber Eats, Doordash, and Grubhub are all online apps that can provide food delivery to your hotel. Look for introductory offers that do not have a delivery charge. Menu prices can be viewed prior to ordering allowing you to stay within budget.

The above is not a comprehensive listing of all available help to meet your travel needs, but it can help you begin exploring and finding ways to save money as you take care of yourself.