Experts estimate that between 593,000 and 780,000 people in the United States currently suffer from Crohn’s disease.
Are you part of this group? Do you have a big trip coming up in the near future?
Traveling with Crohn’s disease can be tricky. Being in a new place, eating new food, and simply breaking from your daily routine can easily throw your health off and leave you feeling less than your best.
You don’t need to cancel your trip just because you struggle with Crohn’s disease, though. You just need to a little extra planning before you leave.
Here are some great tips that will help you travel safely while living with Crohn’s disease.
Talk to Your Doctor
Before you leave for your trip, schedule an appointment with your doctor to talk about your plans and get suggestions on what you can do to keep flare-ups at bay.
Even if your symptoms are totally under control, travel can create extra stress that throws your system out of whack.
Your doctor can write you prescriptions for stronger medications that you can take just in case you experience a flare. They might also recommend certain vaccinations or antibiotics to prevent or treat infections.
Be sure to schedule this appointment with your doctor as far in advance as you can. That way, you have plenty of time to fill your prescriptions and get your symptoms under control before you leave.
Find a Doctor at Your Destination
It’s also helpful to find a doctor at your travel destination. When you meet with your current doctor before your trip, he or she might be able to recommend someone. Your health insurance provider may also be able to recommend someone.
In a perfect world, you won’t need to see a doctor while you’re traveling. But, in the event that something goes wrong, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
If you’re traveling internationally, you might also want to consider buying travel insurance that also covers medical care.
That way, if you do experience a flare-up and require medication or other treatment, you’ll have access to whatever you need to get well again.
Prepare an Emergency Kit
Everyone should have some kind of emergency kit with them while they’re traveling. But, an emergency kit is especially important for people who suffer from Crohn’s disease.
The following are all good items that you ought to pack in your emergency kit:
- All your prescription medications (stored in their original bottles)
- Over-the-counter medications (antacids and antidiarrheals)
- Any nutritional supplements you might need to take
- Disposable wipes and tissues
- A bottle of hand sanitizer or hand sanitizing wipes
- A clean outfit and change of underwear
It’s also a good idea to pack a couple of meal replacement bars. Stick to varieties that you have had before and know won’t upset your digestion.
That way, you’ll always have something to eat, even if the food on the plane or at a specific restaurant isn’t good for you.
Be sure to plan ahead and prepare as much as you can for potential issues. Some steps you can take to prepare for your trip include:
- Book an aisle seat on your flight so you can get to the bathroom easily
- If you can, custom order meals that suit your dietary preferences
- Choose hotels and restaurants that can accommodate your health needs easily
- Try to stay somewhere with a kitchen so you can prepare your own food whenever you can
If you’re staying in a developing country, be sure to avoid tap water and raw fruits and vegetables. These could contain bacteria that could contribute to flare-ups.
Arrive at the Airport Early
If you’re flying to your destination, be sure to arrive at the airport 2-3 hours before your flight.
This will give you plenty of time to get through security, use the restroom, and get settled in at the gate before your flight takes off.
While you’re waiting at the gate, you might want to spend some time doing mindfulness or relaxation exercises. This can help you feel more at ease before you board your plane.
Keep Your Diet in Check
Try your best to stick to your Crohn’s diet plan while you’re traveling. Traveling, in general, can be hard on your digestion — going too far off your diet will likely make things worse.
Pack your own food (you can bring most types of solid foods on airplanes without any problems) so that you have plenty of recognizable, easy-to-digest items to choose from.
Remember to drink plenty of water and stay hydrated, too. Bring an empty water bottle with you as you go through airport security. Then, you can fill it up when you get to your gate.
Speak Up About Your Condition
It can be awkward to talk about your symptoms. But, if you’re open about your condition while traveling, it will be easier for you to get the accommodations you need to feel your best.
You don’t need to share all the details, of course. But, letting your hosts, flight attendants, and others know what you need can be very helpful.
Find Ways to Fit in Exercise
Finally, try to make exercising a priority while you’re traveling.
Research shows that exercise can be very beneficial to some people with Crohn’s disease. And, if exercise is already part of your routine, don’t give it up just because you’re going out of town.
Some of the best forms of exercise for people with Crohn’s disease include:
- Resistance training
These are also all great workouts that can be done anywhere with little-to-no equipment.
Want to Learn More on Living with Crohn’s Disease?
Traveling while living with Crohn’s disease can certainly be stressful. But, there’s no reason why you should let your condition hold you back from enjoying your vacation.
If you keep these tips in mind, traveling with Crohn’s disease will become a lot easier.
Want more advice on managing your illness effectively?
Be sure to check out the Crohn’s disease section of our website for more helpful tips and tricks.