Packing Must-Haves for Travel
I love to travel. I have never shied away from seeing new countries, experiencing memorable vacations, or booking a flight on a whim to visit friends across the country. Traveling is in my blood, but so is Crohn’s disease, so I have to approach it slightly different than the average jet-setter, and I learned my lesson the hard way.
In 2014, I traveled to Cuba for ten days which was a life-changing experience for several reasons. In addition to seeing some extraordinary museums and historical landmarks, I also contacted a water-born bacteria called Aeromonas. While this may have just made someone ill for a few days, I ended up in the hospital for a few days, developed an abscess, and had to have surgery a few weeks later.
Should I restrict travel because of Crohn's?
While I was laying in my hospital bed, my surgeon walked in and said, “Well, I hope the trip was worth it.” to which I broke down in tears because I felt like I brought it upon myself. He quickly changed his tune and said he was only joking, and that I shouldn’t feel like I have to restrict my travel due to my disease. I just have to do it “more cautiously than the average person.”
It was then that I realized I should make a plan for future travels (which included going to Greece for two weeks that same Summer) so that I am best protected and as safe as possible.
How I prepare to travel with Crohn's
I always have a list of must-haves when traveling. This is essentially my “emergency kit” should I get sick while I am away. And it includes:
A filled prescription for Traveler’s Diarrhea
Get one from your GI and make sure to fill it! It will most likely be Cipro (the less expensive option) so make sure to have it filled prior to travel, and don’t worry if you don’t use it, it is better to be safe than sorry!
Pedialyte Powder Packets
These little packets are perfect for dehydration, nausea, or just getting too much sun. You can always get a bottle of water somewhere, so adding this powder to it is a great way to ward off side effects of vomiting and diarrhea, and is easy to carry in your bag, which is perfect for travel.
Wipes and small hand sanitizer
In addition to using them to wash your hands should there not be soap in the bathroom, use these to wipe down your airplane seat, armrest, and tray to keep germs at bay. Our immune systems are not up to par due to being on immune suppressants, so staying well and not contacting all of the germs from an airplane is a key part of enjoying vacation!
Hotels may have the worst toilet paper, so give your bum a break from rough paper and use these for comfort and ease.
Immodium and Dramamine
Because diarrhea and nausea. No more explanations needed.
Packets of tea
Keeping peppermint tea packets is good for settling your stomach, and it is pretty easy to get hot water at any airport (which is free!) so it is easy to keep your stomach soothed anywhere at any time.
Keeping your immune system strong for a trip is critical, so enjoy one of these while on your fight to keep your immune system up and defensive against potentially harmful germs.
I keep these in every bag, purse, glove compartment, etc. because they are a great way to settle the stomach!
Other precautions when traveling
Additionally, another tip when traveling is to avoid any fresh produce that does not have skin, as you do not know if the water that it was washed with was contaminated (that is how I contacted Aeromonas through lettuce). So, the next time you are tempted to travel, do so but with the necessary precautions so that you are prepared for your next big adventure!
Does exercising regularly help in the management of your symptoms?