For IBD Nurses
June - Summer Travel with IBD
Dealing with Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis while traveling can be a challenging and stressful experience. By incorporating some practical strategies and with a little advanced planning, vacationing can be fun and enjoyable. Encourage your patients to follow theses travel tips to be in control and at ease to live their life!
1. Pre-travel preparations:
- Put the names of all your physicians with contact phone numbers in your smart phones and devices in case of an emergency or flare if you need to contact them while away. If traveling abroad, ask your doctor for names of physicians in the cities you plan to visit.
- Discuss with your doctor a plan of action in case you have a flare of your disease while traveling
- Find out in advance whether the trains or buses have bathroom accommodations on board.
- Request an aisle seat near a bathroom when making airline reservations.
- If mapping a road trip, check with AAA or trip planning guides for rest stops along the way.
- The diet that works for you at home should dictate your meal plans while travelling. Don’t become a victim of circumstances. Take packable dry foods, like oatmeal and nutrition bars and packets electrolyte supplements.
- Always travel with your own toilet paper, soothing wipes, ointments and changes of underwear and extra clothes. Keep hand sanitizer handy in small bottles that can go through airport security, if applicable.
- Bring enough medication to last throughout your trip. Filling a prescription abroad can be complicated.
- Always carry your medication with you on the plane.
- Keep your medication in its original container. Use pillboxes to carry small amounts needed during the course of a day.
- A typed statement from your physician, describing your medical history and the drugs you are taking, will be helpful if customs officials question you or if an emergency arises.
- Take along anti-diarrheal medications, such as Imodium to help lessen diarrhea if needed.
2. Tips during travel (airplane, car, train)
- Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate. Traveling often can dehydrate you and you do not drink fluids as often as you should. When the weather is hot you need to keep hydrated and consume at least 8 full glasses of water a day. Use G2 energy drinks or pedialyte to rehydrate.
- IBD patients should take bottled water or boil water if camping to avoid contaminated water from outside sources.
- Do not take risks with street vendor foods. Locate supermarkets where you can buy fresh meal.
- Avoid or limit your use of fast food restaurants to the rare safe options.
- Security Checkpoints at airports:
o The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has a webpage specifically for travelers with medical conditions. Check it out before you embark on air travel; you may need to make a verbal or written declaration of any liquid medication or nutrition supplement in excess of 3.4 ounces or 100 ml. Be sure medications and essential supplies are in your carry on, so you will have them with you at all times.
o If you have an ostomy, alert security personnel. They are trained to anticipate and respond to medical needs in screening travelers. Ostomy supplies are permitted through security checkpoints. Download UOAA’s (United Ostomy Association of America) Travel Communication Card as an aid in dealing with airline security.
- Traveling with an ostomy.
o Pre-cut all pouches at home, as you may wish to avoid having scissors in your carry on luggage.
o Pack ostomy supplies in at least 2 places—carry on and checked luggage.
o Take extra supplies in case you are stranded where supplies may not be available.
o If traveling to a foreign country it is a good idea to have critical ostomy information written in their language. International Ostomy Association may be of help with this translation as well as with locating supplies while visiting abroad.
3. Tips to enjoy your vacation
- By planning ahead and taking along supplies needed in case of a flare or an emergency you will feel more in control of your situation and able to enjoy your vacation and not worry as much!
- Continue the same eating and exercise habits you do on a daily basis that keep you in control as much as possible while you are on vacation.
- Do not take risks with street vendor foods. Limit fast food restaurants. Locate supermarkets where you can buy fresh meals.
- Do not forget your sunscreen and lip balm – certain medications can make you more susceptible to sunburn and cause you discomfort during your entire vacation. Be especially diligent in reapplying sunscreen throughout the day.
By following these tips, your patients can feel prepared and in control of their vacation travel plans so they can relax and have fun!
CCFA Overview of Nursing initiatives Committee
These monthly nursing tips are provided by the CCFA Nursing initiatives committee. The 2012-2015 Nursing Initiative Committee is comprised of 23 nurses from across the US. If you have suggestions for content or want more information about the Nursing Initiatives Committee please contact Orna Ehrlich, Director, Professional Education, at email@example.com.