By Leah Clark
Having just returned from a trip across the country, several travel tips about flying with inflammatory bowel disease are fresh in my mind. Whether your chronic condition is active, in remission, or anywhere in between, these five tips can help make traveling with #IBD a lot smoother and ensure that you can be prepared, calm, and have fun on the way.
1. Know Your Surroundings
Many people with inflammatory bowel disease need to take frequent trips to the bathroom, and that can be difficult when put into an unfamiliar environment. Fortunately, most airports have bathrooms near every gate, as well as maps that can direct you to the nearest one. If you are concerned that you will need to use a bathroom and do not want to have an accident, try and stay near a restroom until your flight is boarding. Some airports have private bathrooms as well with one stall that can make going more comfortable.
2. Prepare Your Own Food
As someone with a #restrictivediet, I know how hard it can be to find food I can eat at an airport. Airplanes and airports often have processed foods that can be prone to cross contamination, as well as a limited selection of foods that are not nuts, chips, and sugary snacks. If you're like me and need to be cautious about your diet, I recommend packing your own food and keeping it in your suitcase until you are ready to eat it. Just make sure the items follow the TSA guidelines.
3. Pack Medications Strategically
Following a tight #medication schedule can be difficult if the medication is not easily accessible. It's important to pack your pills in a small travel carrier or pill box that can be brought on the plane in a carry-on bag. This way, your medication will be with you at all times and available for you to take it when needed. Be sure to have a beverage on the flight, or purchase one after going through security if you need to drink a liquid with your medication.
4. Choosing the Right Seat
Certain airlines, and depending when you purchase your ticket, will allow you to choose what seat you want on the plane. If frequent bathroom breaks is common for you, I recommend scheduling your flights earlier than later and choosing an aisle seat. This way, you will not have to climb over people or waste more time reaching the bathroom. If you cannot choice an aisle seat, it never hurts to ask the person next to you if they are willing to switch.
5. The Day Before
With IBD, sometimes we overlook some of the basic health necessities that need to be addressed: sleep and hydration. Fatigue and dehydration are not new concepts to us, and it's important not to forget about these when traveling. Getting a good night sleep before the trip, as well as drinking plenty of fluids is very important. It's a good idea to take a nap on the flight (if able) and drink water while in the air, as well, when the travel day actually arrives.
Everyone's IBD is different and requires unique attention and care. It's important to know your body and know how travel affects it. Your IBD should not hold you back from living your best life and going wherever you wish. With these five tips, hopefully you will be better prepared and ready for whatever life in the air has to throw at you.