Traveling with Crohn’s Disease: Driving, Flying, and More

Travel Tips for Crohn's & IBD Patients

Going on vacation is supposed to be a relaxing experience. For someone with Crohn’s Disease though, a simple weekend adventure may seem like more work than it’s worth. Traveling with Crohn’s Disease requires some special preparations, but that doesn’t mean you should miss out on a great time! Check out these Crohn’s traveling tips to ensure your trip goes well from the start.

Fill Your Prescriptions ahead of Time

If you take daily medication for your Crohn’s symptoms, make sure you have a sufficient amount before you travel. Most specialty medications have to go through an approval process from your insurance company, which means you may have trouble filling your scripts in a new location. You will be much better off getting the medicine before you leave so you don’t run the risk of going without.

Talk to Your Doctor about Medication Adjustments

If you are on a monthly or semi-monthly product like Humira or Remicade, you will need to compare the dates for your shots/injections and the dates of your vacation. There is some wiggle room between doses, but not much. If you skip a dose, you may have to go through the loading dosage again (most immunosuppressants require a high dose upfront, which is gradually tapered down to a regular dose amount). Your doctor will help you schedule the best timing for your shots. The sooner you notify him, the better. If you will be gone for more than a few weeks, you may need to make arrangements to receive your medication wherever you are staying.

Keep in mind that Humira and other at-home shots must be refrigerated at a certain temperature. Before you risk bringing your medication with you in a cooler, make sure you can maintain the temperature at all times. It may be better for you to schedule delivery to your vacation location because the truck it’s delivered on will have a regulated refrigerator.

Travel Tips for Ostomy Bags

If you wear an ostomy or colostomy bag, there are several steps you can take ahead of time to make your travel plans pleasant:

  • Pack two sets of bags – one in your carry on luggage and one in your suitcase. This includes travel by road. You don’t want to have to dig through your suitcase every time you need a bag, so keep a tote bag with supplies near the front of the vehicle.
  • Get a statement from your physician stating why you need your ostomy supplies, in case they come into question. If you are flying, you may also want to include something in the statement about going into a private area to be searched (as needed).
  • If you are traveling to a foreign country, get all necessary medical documents in that country’s language. Find out what supplies will and will not be allowed in those countries, and also locate places to purchase supplies when you get there.
  • Cut all of your pouches at home to save time. You may not be allowed to bring scissors on the plane.
  • Bring extra supplies in case you don’t have access to new ones for a while.

Check Your Health Insurance Terms

Talk to your health insurance company about your travel plans to make sure there will not be any issues with coverage. This is particularly true if you are traveling overseas because your policy may not cover treatment in other countries. You might be able to get a rider policy (a secondary insurance that ties into your primary insurance plan) for the duration of your trip. It’ll cost a little extra money, but it will be well worth it in an emergency.

Stay Healthy and Hydrated

The traveling process itself isn’t ideal for anyone’s diet. Peanuts and tiny cups of water can only get you so far. Your Crohn’s symptoms aren’t going to be too happy if you rely on crappy food to get by though. Try to maintain a healthy diet as close to your day-to-day meals as possible. Drink plenty of water, and set reminders on your phone to stop for food if you’re on a long road trip. It’s easy to forget about meals when you’re driving.

Remember to Rest

Whether you’re on a plane, on the road, on a cruise ship, or somewhere in between, get plenty of rest during your travels. This will give you the energy to keep going, and it will keep your digestive system regulated. If you have someone with you that can drive while you sleep, take advantage of that. Bring a travel pillow for the plane, or do whatever else it takes to make yourself comfortable. As long as you think about your Crohn’s symptoms in advance, you can plan out an amazing trip for yourself.

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