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Traveling Alone For The First Time

I am 33 years old and just traveled across the country alone for the very first time. I know that may not sound like a huge deal to some of you, but to me, it was. Having been diagnosed with ulcerative colitis at the age of 13 with such an unpredictable, rocky road following that, I never had a chance to really go anywhere. I also never had the ability to be independent before because my health was so unstable. This was a huge milestone for me and I wanted to share how I prepared for it.

Traveling with IBD is difficult

I do want to say that I understand how hard it can be to travel with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and/or an ostomy. I also know that mentally, so many of us want to be out there living life but our bodies just won’t allow us to. Your time will come. Trust me:)

I digress.

As my travel date began approaching, I thought about all of the things that could potentially cause me either some emotional or physical problems. I knew the more I could ensure things would be okay once I arrived, the easier my trip would be.

How I prepared to travel with UC

  1. Once I found out the food situation, I communicated openly and honestly to the people I was meeting. I wanted to make sure my way of doing things would be acceptable and once I knew it was, that alleviated a lot of unknowns for me. I have trouble eating while away from home and if I feel even more limited, it worries me. So, knowing I had the ability to do what was necessary to ensure I could handle such long days was huge for me.
  2. The only option with my usual airport was to take the red-eye home. Since I knew there wasn’t a chance my body would hold up, I did what I could to find an airport near my parents with other flight options. I also followed up constantly about an aisle seat.
  3. The original plan was for me to share a room with someone who was going to be at the conference I was attending. I know how valuable my privacy is to me and how much my sleeping and eating would be impacted by sharing a hotel room with another person. So, as much as I didn’t want to, I spent the money on my own hotel room. Knowing that I had my own space where I could unwind and do what I needed to do for me was priceless.

The importance of speaking up in uncomfortable situations

I am happy to report that my first trip alone went really well. Had I not taken the above steps (and others) to set myself up for success, I don’t know how it would have turned out. I have learned over the years the importance of speaking up for what I need. I tend to not want to bother people or just go along with something so I don’t seem like a difficult person. However, I have learned that if you do it the “right” way, no one will take it as anything more than you expressing your individual needs. And at the end of the day, the people you are with will get a better version of you anyway.

What have your experiences been traveling alone with your disease? Any tips on how you prepare for a trip alone? Do you have trouble speaking up for what you need? I’d love to hear your thoughts/experiences!

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The InflammatoryBowelDisease.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

  • Sahara Fleetwood-Beresford moderator
    6 months ago

    Well done you!!
    I am not a good traveller, but I am definitely a believer that preparation is key!
    I still havent ventured further than my local hospital (still two busses away) on my own though!
    – Sahara (team member)

  • Matt Nagin moderator
    7 months ago

    Marisa,

    When traveling it is essential for me to have my own hotel room with its own bathroom. This makes me feel much more comfortable. Also finding foods that I can safely eat. Glad to hear your first trip alone went well. Thank you for sharing!

  • thedancingcrohnie moderator
    7 months ago

    Whenever I travel alone my biggest priority is always food. I make sure I have snacks that are safe foods and of course I always ask for an aisle seat. Preparation with foods in a small lunch box has been the best thing for me. I’m a snacker and always need something to munch on while traveling.

    Elizabeth (team member)

  • Amanda Osowski moderator
    7 months ago

    Thank you for sharing this – such good ideas! I haven’t traveled alone in a long time, but there might be an opportunity coming up in the near future, and this was a great reminder of the things I need to think about and speak up on. Thank you M!

    Warmly,
    Amanda (team member)

  • Julie Marie Palumbo moderator
    7 months ago

    Speaking up has been my lifesaver when traveling! People are so accommodating so it is up to us to speak up for what we need in order to be as comfortable as possible.

    I also always opt for a single room, even if it means spending more money, and contact the conference/event I am attending to be sure they can accommodate my gluten free diet ahead of time. I am a huge fan of packing my own snacks, too, so in the event there is food there that I cannot eat I will at least have a snack to hold me over until the event is done. Better to be safe than sorry in those situations!

    –Julie (Team Member)

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