How to Pack for an Important Trip with IBD
In my last post, I talked all about how to plan a destination wedding with IBD. I realized that offering suggestions on packing for an 8-day trip was a longer conversation & I decided to separate the ideas.
Since the day I met my husband, it was clear that he has always been a seamlessly prepared passenger. He can pack for almost any trip in 20 minutes, he never gets stopped through security, and he always looks flawless at the airport. I have never ever been that person. In fact, outside of spending a semester abroad before I had IBD symptoms, I used to not be a big traveler. However, during the first few years of our relationship, we did travel regularly. First back and forth across the long distance, and then sometimes to see other family and friends, attend events and even to share our favorite places with each other.
During these shorter trips, I learned some strategies that worked well for me when it came to packing for nearly any trip, whether we were driving or flying to the destination. When we left home for our wedding, we were planning for an 8-day trip, and outside of a regular beach vacation, there were obviously several big events also included. Besides relying on pages and pages of lists, I found that sticking to the following tips really helped me to stay calm and ensure I was fully prepared to enjoy our trip.
First, I believe in overpacking.
My now husband actually has become quite patient with this. I prefer to pack extra necessities, undergarments, and clothes that I might not use, rather than feeling shorted or out of comfortable options while we’re away.
Next, and to me, most important – EXTRA MEDICATION ALWAYS. I usually bring double the amount of prescription medication I need while we’re gone, and enough over the counter medication in case I theoretically needed to take the recommended dose every single day we were away. I have found bead organizing containers from a craft store to be incredibly efficient in bringing along several “as needed” options. I just label each slot with the drug name, dose, and expiration date so I don’t have to carry so many separate and space consuming bottles.
Talk to your doctor
Also important, in my opinion, talking to your doctor before you travel about any prescription medications you might need while you’re away. I find it’s vital to me to have something like Zofran available and in my pocket while I’m traveling. Additionally, I like to know if my doctor or my nurse can call in an emergency prescription such as prednisone if something happens while I am away. Having the forethought to plan these things out and have these conversations ahead of time has allowed me to travel with a little less fear!
I hate forgetting any of my comfort items from home. Personally, this includes 1-2 heating pads, ice packs that don’t require a freezer, any topical creams or lotions I rely on, humidifiers or diffusers and essential oils that support my health in natural ways, braces for joint pain, a travel pillow and/or blanket, a sleep mask, etc.
A well-packed bag
Next, I find that no matter where I go, it has been hugely important to have a well-packed bag on me at all times. This isn’t to say what’s in my suitcase or checked bags is less important, but I find something comforting in knowing that if my luggage gets lost, or if I feel ill or have any challenges during my day of travel, that I am immediately prepared.
Here’s a quick example of what I usually pack in my carry on bag when we fly: wallet & ID, extra phone battery and charging cable, my tablet, headphones, hand sanitizer, travel poopouri spray, breath mints, wet wipes, 24 hours of regular medication, any as needed medications I might need, motion sickness wristbands, an extra pair of underwear, some tummy-friendly snacks, an empty water bottle to fill after security, my glasses, hand lotion, and a small notepad and pen. I usually carry on a backpack or a larger tote bag to accommodate these items, but like I said before, I prefer to be over prepared!
An important list
I have also found it extremely helpful to always carry a list that I can present to a healthcare provider who is unfamiliar with my situation. On my index card, I have listed my diagnosed conditions, my current medications and supplements, my allergies, and my blood type. This is a good peace of mind for my husband, who can just hand it to a nurse rather than trying to relay or find information if I am in crisis.
Besides those key items, I try to always make sure that I am taking care of my mind and my heart, not just my body. This usually involves having good music, a podcast, or a book to focus on during downtime or when I am not feeling well and resting. It also means giving myself permission to actually mentally be wherever we are, and not just focusing on how I am physically feeling at every single moment. I know this can be difficult if we are very symptomatic, but I try to be mindful about the level of symptoms I’m experiencing, what I can do to prevent them from getting worse, and what I might just need to muscle through.
In my next post, I’ll talk more about how I work to enjoy vacations while managing my Crohn’s disease, including the ways I openly communicated with our family and friends about my needs and intentions.