Enjoying Vacation While Managing IBD
If you’ve been reading for a little while now, you’ll remember that I previously wrote a post on Advice for Planning a Destination Wedding with IBD. More generally, I wrote about How to Pack for an Important Trip with IBD. Both of these articles are great for “before” stages of travel. They talk about enabling yourself for success before you ever leave your house. Today, I want to expand on the “after” portion. How to enjoy your vacation while managing your IBD.
If I am able to travel, I do
To be quite honest, when I am able to travel, I do. I was previously in a long distance relationship. I also have friends and family members living across the United States. And I have a serious calling for the beach. These all have given me opportunities and experience to work through traveling with IBD. In the beginning, it was just a matter of if I could travel. If I could successfully do it, and not end up in a hospital in another city or state, then I felt accomplished. With time, I’ve been able to drill down a little more. This ensures that the majority of the time I am away, I am able to enjoy myself.
It has taken me a long time to find a routine and structure that works for me. So I wanted to share the tips and tricks I use with all of you.
First, regardless of who I am traveling with, I find it imperative to be open about my expectations and limits. This means sharing my physical restrictions and requirements. I share with the family members or friends who are either traveling alongside or staying with us during our trip. I am transparent with anyone else it might affect. Some examples are if there is a shared bathroom, a need to stop during a long drive, or a requirement to keep medication cold. I also take ownership of the things my body needs. This helps me to make sure that my body is treated as best as it can be while I am away.
Snacks and hydration
Next, I always bring/buy snacks that are “safe” for my stomach. This is critical to ensuring that I am not starving while we are gone. Or that I don’t try new foods that might have disastrous consequences. If we are driving to our destination, I stock up on these foods before we leave. Otherwise, I keep a list on my phone. I either go to the grocery store once we arrive or send my husband to pick up some key essentials.
In addition, I always pick up a case of water bottles once we get to our hotel or wherever we are staying. I learned early on that staying hydrated is one of the most important things my body requires when I travel. To err on the side of caution, I also travel with packets of Pedialyte or drip drop (oral rehydration solution powders). They add electrolytes and a boost to my water and support my hydration efforts.
I have found it imperative to understand a general idea of the activities planned or events scheduled for each day we are gone. Through many hard lessons, I learned that it’s not ideal for me to participate in all of them. My body requires both more physical rest and more actual sleep than many others. Ignoring this in the past has made me incredibly ill. It has even resulted in missing out on the remainder of my trip. By building in time to actually relax, I have been able to participate in the experiences and moments that are most important to me. Personally, making this choice consciously has always been really important to me. Instead of getting frustrated at not being able to do everything, I choose to greatly appreciate and enjoy the things I am able to do. I choose to build my trip around these things.
Self-entertaining for downtime
On that same note, I have found it very helpful to bring self-entertaining, no energy required things with me to use during downtime on vacation. Or during a time where my husband or friends are doing things that I am not able or do not want to participate in. My current go to is to use my tablet for everything. I load it up with movies or tv series, download books, puzzles and games to use both on and offline.
I do also understand that this is not an option or the first choice for others. In that case, I have some self-occupying entertainment options I would recommend. These are DVDs or use of a digital streaming service, books or magazines to read, coloring or puzzle/activity books to work through or a journal or notebook to write. Also, any small or travel gaming system if that’s something you enjoy. Or if there’s anything you do on a regular basis that would travel well and keep your attention occupied.
Being prepared helps me enjoy travel
Overall, I have found that being prepared, having a plan, and listening to my body are the most important things I can do to enjoy traveling. I am able to be on vacation while still managing my Crohn’s disease. Please note, the suggestions I listed go hand in hand with the packing recommendations listed in my last article. They should not be viewed as an alternative to taking your regular medication or treating your body similarly to when you are at home.
Are there any other tips and tricks you use in order to enjoy time away with IBD? I’d love to hear your suggestions below!