By: Jessica Minervini
Ever since I was young my family has traveled. My first trip was to Florida when I was about four, and whether it’s a vacation or for work, I haven’t stopped traveling since. Eleven years ago, at the age of 13, I was diagnosed with Crohn’s. And rather than losing out on family vacations, I quickly adjusted the way I traveled so that the disease wouldn’t stop me from exploring the world. It took some time to get used to it, and I’m still learning that my disease can surprise me at any moment (even if I’m roaming the streets of Paris). However, throughout the years I have collected some important tips and tricks on traveling with IBD. Here are my top seven that will help
you to enjoy all of your vacations to come:
- Always travel with more medication than you think you’ll need. You never know when you might leave something behind on the airplane or a pill gets lost behind a dresser.
- Make sure to keep all prescriptions in their original container. This helps with any problems you may encounter at airport security.
- Always pack your medication in a carry-on bag. The last thing you need is to be without your daily medication because it’s halfway around the world in your checked-in luggage.
- Get back in touch with your inner toddler. Always try to use the washroom before you leave your hotel room or a restaurant. I find that the restaurant pit stop is the most important one because you know you’ve just eaten.
- Keep your eyes open for the universal washroom sign. Places like McDonalds and Starbucks are a great go-to stop as they are practically everywhere in the world and are guaranteed to have bathroom access. Also be aware of transit bathrooms—whether they are in the stations or on the planes, trains or buses you are boarding. (Some countries also charge a few cents to use public bathrooms, so try to keep some local coins on you at all times.)
- Listen to your body. If you know that certain foods cause you to need the bathroom right away, avoid eating them before long periods of travel where you’re unsure of bathroom locations.
- Most importantly though, when you are traveling with friends, family or people you’ve just met, always let them know about your health situation. We all have emergency, out-of-the-blue bathroom needs, and telling them about your disease will help keep the stress and nerves at bay when having to call for an unplanned bathroom break.
I won’t lie to you my fellow IBD fighters—having Crohn’s can put a damper on traveling around the world. Whether it’s working around my medication schedule or having a pop-up anxiety attack on the Paris Metro, I’ve had my fair share of bad travel moments. But when it comes down to it, the enjoyment I have and the amazing lessons I learn from exploring new places completely outweigh those relatively small roadblocks. So in the end, the best tip I can give you is to travel on…it’s totally worth it!