Travelling is a great way to see new places, experience new cultures and create wonderful memories with your family and friends. But when you’re living with IBD, the idea of travelling beyond your own city may feel like a daunting idea.
This article will provide a list of things to consider when making your travel plans while living with IBD, to make sure you can make the most out of your adventures!
Choosing a Destination
When deciding where to travel, you may want to consider the following points to help make your decision.
1. Access to healthcare
When you are researching potential destinations, research the availability of healthcare facilities there. Find out if you would be able to receive care in the case of a flare-up or other medical issue, just in case you need it!
2. Language barrier
If you are thinking of travelling somewhere that you do not speak the language, you may want to consider carrying a note in the local language explaining your condition, medications and emergency contact info (should you be travelling on your own).
3. Food/water safety
In different parts of the world, food and water safety may look different than at home. Do some research ahead of time of things you may want to avoid, such as tap water, and commit to the safer alternative – like bottled water. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
Consider purchasing additional travel insurance that will cover the costs should you need to visit a doctor, hospital, or cancel your trip due to health reasons.
You’ve decided on your destination, booked your trip, and now it’s time to pack! Here are some ideas of items to pack when travelling to make sure your self-management needs are covered.
Always carry more than you need of your medications (in their original packaging). In the off chance you end up in your destination longer than anticipated, or misplace some of your medication, having extra is always a good idea.
2. Toiletries kit
Prepare a small emergency kit of things you may need, such as: wet wipes, gloves, medication and plastic bags for managing your symptoms when you’re unsure on what the toilet situation may be where you are.
3. First aid kit
Include some basic pain medication, anti-diarrhea and constipation medications (that have been approved by your doctor) and any other over-the-counter medications you may need in a kit that is suitable for travel.
4. Dietary supplements
If you’re worried about the food you’ll be able to consume on your trip, bring a few safe options with you that are non-perishable or can be refrigerated once open. This will be helpful if you find yourself in a position where the food available does not meet your needs.
Eating on your trip
Food – love it or fear it – we all need to eat. Trying local cuisine is one of the great things about travelling but it can be a bit scary for people with IBD to try new things. Here are some tips to enjoy your time while minimising risks.
Research, research, research!
Look for restaurants in the area you will be travelling before you arrive. You can check out menus, see if the food is suitable and if they are accommodating of your needs.
2. Communicate with restaurant/food vendor staff
Don’t be shy about informing people about your restrictions or preferences, many restaurants can accommodate you.
3. Portion control
Portion sizes can be different around the world. Make sure you are eating enough but not eating too much simply due to large portion sizes, to avoid discomfort or overeating which can trigger IBD symptoms.
4. Play it safe
When in doubt, opt for food that you know will be safe for you and that most likely will not cause you any discomfort. It can be frustrating when others are enjoying new things, but always consider your health first and make a choice that is best for you.
Managing your stress
Travel is stressful for everyone in some way – and as stress exacerbates IBD symptoms, we have come up with a few ideas on how to keep your stress at bay while travelling.
This one may seem obvious but having a plan of what will happen on your trip day-to-day can reduce your stress. Itinerary, accommodations and transportation are all things that can be planned ahead of time to avoid unnecessary stressful moments that could have been avoided.
2. Decide who you travel with
The person or people you travel with can play a huge role in how stressful your trip is. If you are travelling with others, make sure they are people who you get along with or who provide you with support, especially in terms of your condition. This will reduce your mental stress if your symptoms are active then you are with someone who understands.
3. Relaxation techniques
Practice some relaxation techniques like deep breathing, meditation, mindfulness or yoga to utilise during your trip to stay calm. For example, being on a plane can be stressful to some, using a calming technique can make the experience a lot better for you.
4. Don’t underestimate the power of rest
Travelling usually involves a lot more physical activity than we are used to. Make sure you get enough sleep and fit downtime into your schedule.
Travelling with IBD may require a little bit extra planning but by considering the things in this article you will be on a better track for a smoother sailing trip. Preparing yourself for your trip will give you more confidence to travel and hopefully will ease your mind as well. Safe travels!