This article is based on an original post that first appeared on the Trim Traveler Blog entitled Have No Fear: Traveling Abroad with Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
By: Nikki Nies
While last minute trips can be fun, there always needs to be some type of planning involved. At minimum, this should include source of transportation. Bus? Driving? Catching the next flight out of the airport? Yes, this level of spontaneity may sound overwhelming for some that like to plan every detail. In reality, once kids are involved, there are other considerations that are factors in traveling, such as counting for a variety of entertainment and the number of diapers needed. In addition, for those with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), an intestinal disorder that can cause stomach pains, gas, diarrhea or constipation, it can make multi city traveling more nerve wrecking than appealing.
As a chronic condition, management of IBS is long term and can cause hurdles in traveling. I fondly remember I was in Thailand and one of people on the trip couldn’t leave the bathroom because of intestinal issues. When he wasn’t having diarrhea, he was too scared to leave the hotel in fear of a limited availability and quick access to bathrooms. It is a shame he traveled from the U.S. to Thailand to spend his time in a bathroom. For those of you that have been diagnosed with IBS, by implementing certain planning into your travel plans, you can enjoy your travels, pain free!
Some suggested travel inquiries:
- Plan a trip that is calm or relaxing, as it may be less difficult to maneuver
- Plan enough to know there are enough safe places to use the restroom
- Pack and always keep own toilet paper with you. While most travelers should pack extra clothes in carry on, this can be particularly useful for those with IBS too.
- Keep in reach fiber supplements, medications, bottled water and snacks (i.e. nuts or yogurt). Also, having doctor’s contact information and medical diagnosis listed can help with access to care.
- Allow enough time to get places to avoid rushing and/or giving yourself enough time to assess a situation (i.e. limiting the amount of time between connecting flights can be stressful enough, give yourself at least 2 hours in between scheduled flights to get to your destination).
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions. You might want to ask, “Is there an early check in for hotel?” or “Does the hotel room come with a refrigerator?”
- Investigate what measures you have to easily access bathrooms. Find out if you will need special coins and if you will have to buy toilet paper for access.
- When booking flights, opt for the aisle seat for easier access to on flight bathroom.
- If traveling in a foreign country learn phrases, such as “Where’s the bathroom”, “I can’t eat….” or “Can you make…[dish]…without?” A pocket dictionary or Google translate app can help with language translations too.
- Be up front with traveling companions. Depending on your comfortability, let tour guides, friends and family know need for easy access to bathrooms. People are often more understanding than we give credit.
- Traveling doesn’t always have the same schedule as one’s daily schedule, but try to consume the same serving and number of meals you’re used to.
- If you’re up to trying new foods, experiment in small amounts.
A lot of these tips provide you asking lots of questions, but in the long run it will provide a more stress free trip. Having a few of the above-mentioned essentials can ease travel plans, but resist the temptation of overplanning! By leaving room for spontaneity, you can truly enjoy your travel! Happy travels!