8 tips for flying with IBD
Summer is upon us and for many of us, that means jetting off to somewhere exotic. When I was first diagnosed, I was actually living in China -and for the years that followed, I became pretty adept at managing flights back home to the UK and traveling around South East Asia. If you're lucky enough to be escaping to somewhere lovely this summer, then these tips on flying with IBD may well come in handy!
1. Always reserve an aisle seat near the bathroom
Nobody has time to ask politely to squeeze post a row of people-aisle seats are your friend! Make sure you book a seat near to the toilet to avoid dashing up and down the aisles!
2.Keep a letter from your doctor and medication in hand luggage
I'm way too nervous to trust my medication in my suitcase, so I'll keep it in my hand luggage. I also had a typed letter from my GP; explaining the medication and what it was for. I would sometimes put extra meds in my suitcase as a back-up. If you're traveling somewhere where English isn't widely spoken, it might be worth asking someone to translate your letter (I managed to find someone on a Tripadvisor forum previously who did this free of charge).
3.Speak to the airline ahead of time
I would always speak to the airline ahead of time. The airline can obviously help arrange special meals (e.g. I have to have a gluten and dairy free meal), but also can accommodate things like keeping medication refrigerated or special seating.
4.Pack lots and lots of safe food
My carry-on luggage is basically all food! Even though I call ahead of time, I'm still conscious that mistakes happen, so I make sure to pack plenty of snacks. Things that work well for me are gluten-free cereal bars, bananas, single servings of nut butter, rice cakes, and potato chips. I'd also pack peppermint tea bags and plenty of water.
5.Keep other essentials close to hand
I'll also keep Imodium, toilet wipes, a spare pair of underwear, electrolyte solution and a relaxation spray in my handbag. I also pack compression socks, as I have varicose veins, and those of us with IBD are more likely to be at risk of Deep Vein Thrombosis.1
6.Check airport requirements
As well as calling the airline, I'll also check my departure and arrival airport to see if certain foods are forbidden in hand luggage. If you have a stoma, I would recommend this excellent post about flying with a stoma specifically, as it outlines the type of things to ask the airport before flying with a stoma.
7. Load up on Imodium
For many of us, the fear of flying can make us anxious and our stomachs can start to rumble! Sometimes, I would take a small dose of Imodium ahead of time to pre-empt any disasters.
Do you live with allergies in addition to Crohn's or UC? If so, which ones? (Select all that apply)