lifestyle · travel

Do You Know Your Blood Type?

Do you know your blood type? Travel with Go Gingham
I was on a bridge and used a zoom lens for this picture.

When were were getting ready to travel to Costa Rica, we were asked to provide our blood types. I admit that I was a little worried about why we might need to disclose our blood types for a trip. We have traveled a decent amount and have never needed to know. Because we were going through an agency with a set travel package, we had to know.

We didn’t know our blood types but assumed our doctor would have it “on file” or that it would be listed on birth certificates. There was nothing on file at the office and no listing of blood types on birth certificates. I even called the hospital where our kids were both born. They didn’t have the blood type listed either.

Do You Know Your Blood Type

Knowing your blood type is little like having an airbag…even if you don’t ever need to use it; it’s there. Knowing your blood type seems like a pretty good idea.

Do you know your blood type? Travel with Go Gingham
Zoom lens strikes again!

Given that we were on short notice for this trip, we had to scramble to figure out how to determine all of our blood types. We ran into a few problems.

  • Doctors’ office: Initially, we thought this was the solution. Our doctors’ office said we had to schedule an appointment, which would take 2-weeks to get in and then results would take another couple of weeks. The cost was around $200/person and was not covered by our insurance.
  • American Red Cross: They used to do this test without giving blood but stopped. It got to be too expensive so it’s no longer a service they offer.
  • Give blood: It’s a great thing to do and then they can run the test to determine your blood type. You need to find a blood drive in your area – at a time you can make AND you have to be over 16-years-old. Great for us but not for our 14-year-old daughter.
  • Traveler’s Clinic: Our local hospital has a traveler’s clinic and we thought for sure this was our solution. Nope. They administer shots for travelers going to foreign countries but don’t do blood tests.

We ended up using Google to help us. We found a company – Direct Labs – who does medical testing for many types of tests. You pay for the tests you need online and take your test requests/receipt to a local lab who handles the blood draw – or other tests – and they send it to Direct Labs. We had the blood drawn on Friday and by Monday morning, had the results emailed to us. The cost was about $44/person – a big savings over a visit to our doctor.

Blood type testing differs by state. It’s a very simple test that can be done at birth – when blood is typically drawn for other tests – but in the state of Oregon, you have to request it. I don’t know the rules in other states but it may be worth checking into – especially if you have blood work in your future!

Do you know your blood type?

Go Gingham related links:

Travel packing tips with a PDF chart are here
Our San Francisco home exchange –Part I, Part II and
Part III
Save money on your next trip: before and during
Want to keep food costs low while traveling? Try these tips!
6 Essential Items for Air Travel” including how to limit drooling on your neighbor!
We’re going to Costa Rica, baby! How we found out and jumping for joy

Disclosure: The Costa Rica Tourism Board provided our family with an amazing trip to Costa Rica. This is being disclosed in accordance with the FTC’s guidelines.

21 thoughts on “Do You Know Your Blood Type?

  1. We’ve never had to know that either, but this is a good tip. As is having six months left on your passport before you travel out of the country. A friend of mine living in Hong Kong recently was planning to travel to Malaysia for a week but was turned away at the airport because they only had four months left until their passports expired. Unfortunately, even direct Labs couldn’t have helped them!


    1. EFB, no idea about the passport date. That is pretty important when traveling!
      We did just renew our son’s – and paid for it for the last time! At 16, passports finally last for 10-years. Whew!
      Thanks, Erin!


  2. They test your blood type when you are pregnant, because negative women and positive men can create a problem (well, that’s not the scientific way to say that, but it works 🙂
    Very strange that your doctor didn’t have your blood type on file from when you were pregnant.

    Will you consider giving blood now that you are home from your vacation? It’s a fantastic way to help others and they have a Red Cross Clinic in Portland that is open Monday – Saturday with some evening hours also.


    1. Janna,
      You are right about MY doctor having the right information. 🙂 That was the slam-duck in all of this.
      Yes, I agree that giving blood is an awesome way to help others! Thank you for the reminder. 🙂
      Thanks for writing in, Janna.


  3. I didn’t find out my blood type until I started donating blood (in my early 20’s). Another suggestion might be a school based health clinic, or community health clinic. I don’t know if they provide the service, but it might be another less expensive way to accomplish getting the type. Reminds me – the 17 year old had some blood work done recently. Maybe I should ask if they can tell me her blood type!


    1. Cathy,
      I’m sure if I looked far and wide in this house, I’d find my donation card from high school – and the blood drive card that lists my type.
      Good suggestion on the school based health clinic – that’s where my teens got their flu shots this past fall. 🙂
      Thanks, Cathy!


  4. Be positive! A great life philosophy and also happens to be my blood type (less happily, it was my usual GPA in high school and college–guess I was a good, but not excellent, student).

    But come to think of it, I don’t know my children’s blood type. Thanks for bringing it to our attention.


  5. I am AB rh- and when being pregnant got tested or else I wouldn’t know.If the baby is rh positive you need to get a antibody shot.
    In 9th grade at school at natural science all the class had to prick the finger and draw some blood and do a tests on a certain paper that showed what bloodgroup we had. Was very easy…and fun! 🙂


  6. I only know it because it is on my very old Red Cross card which, for some reason, I still have from the early 80’s!

    The Direct Lab solution is a good one. There are certain labs, like this one, that do tests (like cholesterol levels) without going to a doctor, which is a great service.


    1. Michelle,
      My Red Cross card is from the ’80s, too, and I’m sure it’s around here somewhere. Perhaps after I finish my year-long home organization project, I’ll find it 😉
      That is a great idea about the cholesterol level test – and other tests that don’t require a visit. It was so much less expensive – especially for our family with very high deductibles.
      Thanks, Michelle!!


  7. Starting donating blood in high school. You can donate blood at the Red Cross center on N. Vancouver and don’t have to wait for a blood drive. Surprised to learn of 17 year old age limit (16 with parental consent). Good to know. Now you’ve got me curious about my kid’s blood types.


    1. Melissa,
      That was my first time donating, also.
      At some point, they changed the donation age from 16 to 17 – or with parent consent.
      Did you find out your kids’ blood type???
      Thanks, Melissa 🙂


  8. I think this is a rather odd question! As a physician, we never rely on what a patient says if they tell us their blood type unless they have the documentation to prove it. Giving someone the wrong blood type is just too high risk to trust someone’s recollection. A test for blood type actually is very quickly run, so it’s not a hard thing to determine in an emergency, at least in the U.S. However, I’m curious now about how it’s handled in other countries since your travel company required the info…


    1. Deeanna,
      I will tell you that it did make me feel odd having to give it. At first, we just didn’t answer that question because we didn’t know – and then we had to scramble.
      While on our trip, I asked our guide about it. He said they do it as a precautionary measure.
      Now we know and hopefully there will be other trips – but not reasons to have the blood type knowledge. 🙂
      Thanks, Deeanna. Your input is helpful.


  9. I like the blood type awareness. Mine is on my Army dog tags from 1976. Now where did I put them?

    There’s a classic saying that goes like this, “It’s better to have it when you don’t need it than need it when you don’t have it.”


    1. David, I think that’s what the travel company was thinking, too. 🙂
      Now we know and hopefully we’ll have more trips in our future.
      Thanks, David – and for the link up, too.


  10. I too am surprised that this info was asked for when travelling.

    I also found it surprising that you needed to find a ‘blood drive’ – in Australia, the red Cross has a number of stationary clinics that run almost every day (and staggered start and end times, so almost any shift worker can find time). Not only that, as a govt employee, I can take work time to donate, at no penalty! Cause I regularly give blood (or more recently plasma) I know I’m O- (ie incredibly common).

    I am surprised it seemed to difficult for you to find it out to be honest!


    1. Sarah,
      I was surprised, too.
      The Red Cross did have blood drives but that didn’t help us with our daughter who was too young (14) to donate.
      Thanks for writing in, Sarah. 🙂


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