Travelling With IBD: The Ultimate Packing Checklist

Packing for a trip? We‘ve got you covered.

Living with an Inflammatory Bowel Disease is no obstacle for you to make the trip which you have always dreamed about. However, you will have to dedicate the necessary time to the trip planning so that you can deal with any unforeseen events that may arise during it.

We encourage you to travel the world and enjoy life, but always keeping in mind that the most important thing is your health. That's why we offer the following tips and experiences to enjoy the holiday you deserve.

We have prepared a Check-list so you don’t forget to include in your suitcase everything essential to go on vacation with the tranquillity of carrying everything you need to enjoy each day to the maximum.

Also, there is no better way to know what to do when it comes to enjoying the holidays than those who have lived through it, acknowledge our chosen bloggers experiences and how it’s possible to enjoy your holiday with IBD. (Open the checklist by clicking on the image)

text: traveling with IBD
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Short Trip, Big Tips! by Emily Roessel:

I was headed to New York City for a weekend to meet my family and see Hamilton. I was a big fan of Alexander Hamilton before he became the subject of a hit musical, and I convinced my family to buy tickets the second they went on sale.

It was shaping up to be the perfect weekend, except for one problem: all summer I had been having the worst ulcerative colitis flare I had ever had. I had been on and off of Prednisone, and things seemed to be under control, but I did not want to miss a minute of Hamilton because I needed to use the bathroom.

I talked to the therapist I was seeing beforehand about my increasing anxiety about traveling with IBD. We talked through my anxieties: my fear of needing to get up during the performance, of making it through the train ride to and from New York, of not feeling well and being able to enjoy the trip.

One thing she said stood out to me: that I could not feel well and be a little anxious AND still enjoy parts of the trip. Keeping that in mind has been helpful for me when trying to live my life with ulcerative colitis.

So how did I get through the trip? A few things were helpful:

  1. My family knew what was going on. They understood I may need to run to the bathroom and that I had dietary restrictions. I also enlisted them to help: because I know my anxiety increases when waiting (making it more likely I’ll need to run to the bathroom), I made sure my sister knew she would have to distract me for the ten minutes or so before the show started.

  2. I made sure I knew where the bathrooms were wherever we went. On the train, I sat in an aisle seat near the bathroom. Fortunately, our Hamilton tickets included an aisle seat. In museums and restaurants, the first thing I’d do was look around for the bathroom.

  3. I packed snacks and bottled water (I’ve always done this anyway, but it’s useful if you have dietary restrictions).

  4. Most importantly (and perhaps most embarrassingly), I wore Depends the entire weekend. I felt awkward and embarrassed about it, but it’s what I needed to do to decrease my anxiety about being out and about in public for that long. I also carried my “emergency kit” in my purse: a change of underwear, wipes, and extra Depends.

I made it through the trip without too many issues and even made it through Hamilton without needing to run to the bathroom during the performance. My therapist was right: I didn’t feel amazing the whole trip, and I was anxious, but I still managed to have a great time. So if you have IBD, go on that trip – just know yourself, be prepared, and do what you need to do to take care of yourself and have fun.

“Some of my travel necessities are heating pad (sometimes), activated charcoal, Pepto Bismol, my vitamins and supplements, lemons for warm lemon water, safe snacks, a book or two, earbuds, and comfortable clothing”

– Alexa Girlinhealing

Will I ever be able to travel again with IBD? by Astrid Fox:

I'm choosing to tell you about my trip from a couple years back because it shows that even with trepidation, I went for it. This was my first trip since diagnosis with Ulcerative Colitis in 2013.

I was making steady progress with my healing protocol through specific diet and lifestyle changes, but was I ready to take the next step to travel?

My answer became clearer when I looked at my young kids and family, I had to remember that it's not just about me. So with these curious little ones in mind, I decided to forget about my IBD limitations and push forward to explore outside of my kitchen.

It was the summer of 2015, my family planned an island hop road trip through the Northern Gulf Islands in British Columbia, Canada. My healing had been coming along, although I wasn't in remission yet, it'd be my first trip since diagnosis. A road trip allows me to pack more of my necessities, but to be honest, the multiple ferries link up and hours of driving made me a bit nervous.

Just to add to the mix, my first IG takeover with Autoimmune Paleo fell on the same time as our trip. I'd considered rescheduling the takeover because I'd prefer to have my kitchen set up for it, but my husband encouraged me to go with the flow.

“We'll definitely have more interesting content to share on our travels.” - he said.

So with a van filled with compliant foods, coolers packed to the top, I even brought some small appliances, and off we went from ferry to ferry to explore the beautiful islands of the coast.

Our destination was Texada Island. It took three connecting ferries to get us there. By the time we got off the last ferry, it was pitch black, luckily we didn't get lost driving in the moonlit windy road to our rental cottage. The kitchen was sufficient, there was only one bathroom but all everyone cared about was flopping into our beds for a well needed rest.

Since I'd been so preoccupied with my health for the past years, I'd forgotten how being away from home is good for the body and the soul.

Soon as I relaxed more, I was able to leave my day to day city routine behind and enjoy the moment. Our waterfront cottage quickly drew me into the healing power of nature, I wadded in the water with the children and felt the sand on my feet. Fresh air, water and earthing really does wonders to your body and soul. I won't go into the goofy family vacation stories, but the laughter and memories were magical, no supplements nor protocols can compare to that.

“Did you know that laughing can raise your Endorphin? It's one of the happy chemicals our bodies produce”

I'm completely fascinated with our emotions and natural chemicals so watch out for future posts on my blog. Besides enjoying the natural surroundings of the coast, I was excited to discover local grocery markets that carry health and wellness products.

So when do you know you are ready to travel with IBD?

It's tricky, I'd say when you get to a point where you're not tied to the bathroom anymore, start planning for it. Being prepared always makes me feel better, so pack extra supplies like wipes, plastic bags, and extra clothes in case of accidents.

Think like you have a potty training child with you, which I did, so I always had a set for him and a set for me. No matter how terrible your symptoms still feel, be proud of how far you've come, don't give up. I suggest to step away from thinking about your symptoms once in a while and think about the people around you.

If you feel alone, you're not, seek support from local or online communities like this one: Alternative Healing for IBD.

Don't constantly dwell on your sickness. Make time to escape your day to day. Start small like with short walks with a friend in your city and work up to a planning a trip.

“Get out of your comfort zone and explore a little because it's good for your health.”

Final note: Keep on healing

“always get in touch with the hotel you're staying in. Getting in touch means you can ask about facilities (rooms with bathtubs are often beneficial and I always ask if they have a fridge to store food and medications) and enquire about key services - such as the nearest hospital or supermarket.”

– Jenna Farmer Abalancedbelly

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