Flying high with IBD: How to travel when you’ve got digestive health ‘baggage’

FWhen we travel, we generally have a go-to list or routine that helps prepare us for the long trip. For some of us, it’s as easy as counting our pairs of undies and socks while throwing in a toothbrush. For others, we sit there arranging our tablets, face creams and other little vacation necessities, so that we don’t fall into the trouble of running out of daily comforts while traveling through foreign cities. But what about the percentage of people who have been diagnosed with a digestive disorder?

Why do digestive disorders need to consider a special kind of ‘go-to list’?

Firstly, it’s important to know that air travel can impact your digestive health, especially if you already have Irritable Bowel Disease. A lack of oxygen is common while flying can lead to triggered inflammation of the digestive tract with people who are predisposed to problems. According to the Swiss National Science Foundation, a study has now confirmed this correlation in studies of one hundred patients suffering from IBD.

So what is it like to travel with IBD?

For those who aren’t already aware of what it’s like to travel with Ulcerative Colitis, Crohn’s disease or any other disorder that targets the tract, it’s important to realise that it can be just as much of a handful as traveling with an infant. However, unlike digestive disorders, you can give a baby away to a sitter when you’ve had enough. As for your gut, be prepared for inconsistent, demanding behavioural changes and constant need of attention. There’s always a silver lining to every cloud – we’ve done the time to help you figure out which way you can prepare yourself for the flight, so that you don’t run into huge butt explosions.

Firstly, be diligent. Research as much as you can about the airline. You need to know the following:

  • Their menu (so you can make special requests)
  • Their toilets on the plane (so you can be seated near one)
  • The airports (so that you have emergency options)

Insiders tip: Don’t be afraid to tell the flight attendant that you have a medical condition and cannot eat certain foods or need access to the toilet at all times. If you’re on a good airline, they will try to accommodate you as much as possible.

Secondly, be prepared. You cannot predict your gut, or your butthole for that matter. So consider the following:

  • Pack a spare pair of undies/and pants (if need)
  • Pack some snacks in case the airline is useless (REALLY IMPORTANT)
  • Pack a large bottle to fill with water
  • Pack herbal teabags, to drink on the plane (peppermint + chamomile)
  • Pack wet wipes and hand sanitizer
  • Pack medication with you and other necessary vitamins (keep labelled)

Insiders tip: Speak to your doctor before you leave. Inform him/her that you’ll be going away and ask whether you should consider a plan for medication. Time difference can impact your medication, and so can travel. So they may suggest for you to increase your dosage for precautionary measures.

Thirdly be mindful. Being present, in the moment and connected to yourself can help diffuse any gut-stress related issues. How?

  • Pack two days early
  • Download a meditation app to listen to on the plane
  • Use waiting time to meditate, or wind down
  • Keep people informed of your situation, so they can help you
  • Hydrate and eat well two weeks before the flight

Insiders tip: Find a natural supplement (that’s kind to your tummy), which will help you sleep on the plane. Try CBD, or magnesium. They’re both muscle relaxants, which will help you naturally feel at ease.

Traveling with IBD is completely doable and can totally be managed with the right preparation and mind frame. If you’re still feeling nervous, then reach out to TSA. The helpline is called TSA Cares. They have created it to help travellers with disabilities and medical conditions. Regardless of the severity of your situation, there are people who are available to help you out!

The above content is provided for informational and educational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional advice or diagnosis and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice. moxie shall not be liable for any claim, loss, or damage arising out of the use of, or reliance upon any content or information in this article.

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