Traveling across the neighborhood can be tough when you're living with Crohn's or IBD, much less traversing the continent or globe. The trick to staying sane is organization and planning! Take it from this Type-A OCD planner, it's best to prepare for the worst and hope for the best!
Some of these suggested packing tips and resources are especially applicable for Crohnies, but in general it's helpful to be ultra-organized so you can easily find your meds, change of clothes, or food/toiletry items.
Tips of the Trade #1 - 5-Star Must-Bring:
- Traveler's set of plastic utensils - Container Store sells a great set that even includes chopsticks!
- Vitamin cases labeled by day
- Hand sanitizer
- Charmin wipes and/or hand wipes, both are versatile
- Roll up toilet paper in tight rolls and place in ziploc bags. Stash one ziploc full in your daybag and throw another in your main luggage. Mind you, no matter if you are traveling in developing countries or the South of France, most places outside the US have toilets that are missing the many things we take for granted - soap, toilet paper, doors on stalls..... Need I say more? Prepare to squat and BYOTP :)
- Packing Cubes (Eagle Creek Brand) - fantastic for organizing everything
from rolled up t-shirts to underwear, or keeping all your electrical
cords and adapters together
- Journal, for tracking a food diary, collecting ticket stubs and other mementos
- Apps on your phone - Trip Advisor, Currency Converter, Rail Europe, and Rick Steves are some of my faves. Language translators are great, but most reviews will say many are faulty.
Tuscan Sunflower Field
Tips of the Trade #2: Pack Extra Meds!
I've been living with Crohn's for 20 years. I know the deal. Always have your meds. Always have enough meds. Pack them in your carry-on, etc... etc.. However, I also suffer from procastination packing and uber-pride in packing as light as humanly possible - I backpacked Europe for three months with the same size bag that I can easily fill for a day trip around town these days! I haven't always practiced what I preach, and ended up most recently last year, stranded at the San Francisco Airport facing an overnight delay with no more meds, and another 2 days of travel. I learned my lesson for the last time, and always take 1-2 days extra meds whenever and wherever I travel. Even if it's a quick flight nearby, you never know when weather or circumstances could change and you can't make it back in time. Traveling is stressful enough without worrying about running out of medication.
Tips of the Trade #3: Staying Healthy and Hydrated on Plane Travel
It's critical to stay hydrated while flying, particularly long international flights. I used to think 6 or 7 hours to Europe from the East Coast was taxing; that is, until I started flying to China and the South Pacific, Australia and New Zealand. Talk about hard on the body! On my last trip to New Zealand, I felt so ill I hovered in bathrooms for hours and couldn't eat for over 24 hours. I didn't follow my own advice! Hydrate, natural jet lag remedies, and get up and move around!
Stay hydrated and move around as much as you can. On that last New Zealand flight, I had opted for a window seat so I could sleep, and thankfully had the middle seat free, but the man on the aisle was out cold and NOT happy every time I asked him to move. I got more and more timid and finally suffered in silence as my legs cramped and I yearned to move around and grab more water. Speak up! Get an aisle seat if you prefer.
If you are traveling with someone, you may want to consider both opting for window seats in front/behind of each other, so you can both sleep. In my case, I hardly ever put my seat back more than a smidgen, so I go in front. If one of us ends up with a middle aisle free, we will take breaks and sit together and watch the same movie or share guidebook findings.
Take antibacterial hand soap like it's going out of style!! This article on NPR says to use at least 60% alcohol. I use it constantly (probably too much), but NPR recommends before you eat or drink, as well as after you use the bathroom. The plane sinks are a joke!! No way to truly clean up.
The EPA says:
"Passengers with suppressed immune systems or others concerned may wish to request bottled or canned beverages while on the aircraft and refrain from drinking tea or coffee that does not use bottled water. While boiling water for one minute will remove pathogens from drinking water, the water used to prepare coffee and tea aboard a plane is not generally brought to a sufficiently high temperature to guarantee that pathogens are killed."
Can I get a YIKES!!
One other quick tip from Food Babe's great article on flying: Bring an empty thermos with tea bags and then fill it at a restaurant after you pass through security. She recommends ginger to soothe the stomach, but I admittedly am not a fan of ginger. I would probably opt for some green tea if I wanted caffeine and antioxidants, or chamomile before a red-eye flight.