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8 Tips For Traveling With Crohn's Disease

Traveling with Crohn’s disease can get dicey.

I spent four months traveling the good ol’ United States this summer, and one thing that followed me everywhere I went was my condition. That’s why I want to offer up a few travel tips for those with Crohn’s disease, so they can have the trip of their life just like everybody else.

Let’s get down to it.

8 Tips For Traveling With Crohn’s Disease

1. Skip Coffee

Coffee makes me go to the bathroom 2-3 minutes after the first sip. If you’re traveling, it’s best to start your day off on the right foot–besides, who wants to spend their quality time abroad in the restroom? This is your time to get out and see the world, not the inside of a bathroom!

2. Eat a Light Breakfast

Along the same lines, I’ve found that eating a light breakfast sets a great tone for the rest of the day. Oatmeal, for me, is the safest choice for breakfast with Crohn’s disease. It really is the most important meal of the day.

3. Stay in Airbnb’s

I say this because many Airbnb’s have something that hotels don’t: kitchens! Cooking with Crohn’s is essential to maintain balance–you have to stay away from fast food restaurants as much as you can. The great thing about Airbnb is that they’re cheap, and many times you get to meet other awesome travelers staying in the same house or room.

4. Long Car/Plane Rides Are Your Worst Enemy

When you’re traveling with Crohn’s disease, confined spaces can be a little uncomfortable. A sixteen-hour plane ride equals about ten trips to the bathroom, right? Whatever that number is for you, it’s best to try to stay away from them as much as possible. But sometimes you simply must get on a long plane ride or  bus ride, so be sure to stay away from problem foods like the plague. Also sit near bathrooms if you can, and carry one of those mini Febreze spritzers in your carry-on. It may be hard, but long plane/car rides can be overcome!

5. Travel With A Few People Only

When I did my road trip with Crohn’s this summer, I traveled solo. I could pull off whenever I needed to, take bathroom breaks during the day, and not feel bad for spending a (sometimes) egregious amount of time in the restroom. If you’re with a good friend who knows you’re traveling with Crohn’s disease, they’ll be super understanding of what you need to do, but bigger groups who all want to do a variety of different things might not understand like one person will.

6. Do Most Of Your Eating At Dinner

Daytime is for seeing sights, and nighttime is for winding down. When I was in Salt Lake City, I ate oatmeal for breakfast, a smoothie for lunch, and a nice-sized dinner around 6 PM. Do I wish I could’ve eaten more? Sure, but it’s not like I was skipping meals. After a day or two of doing this, your body surprisingly gets used to it, too! And when you’re traveling with Crohn’s disease, this isn’t that much of a sacrifice to make given the rewards: a problem-free day of traveling!

7. Stay Away From Guided Tours

I wish this weren’t the case, but guided tours could be a problem for people like us. Hours of walking with no clear idea of when a bathroom break is coming could be an issue. Try to book shorter ones, or let the company know of your condition beforehand so that a few more bathroom breaks can be scheduled. Either do that, or just see the city on your own! I love stumbling into fun stores and sites I wasn’t expecting.

8. Stay Flexible

Perhaps the most important point, give yourself an extra day or two in certain places. I say this just because I know that bad days can come out of nowhere and leave us bedridden for hours on end. Try to stay away from concrete plans. Just travel at your own pace! A few days in a certain place might help relieve some stress too, since you know you have more time in case something occurs.

There you have it! My 8 tips for traveling with Crohn’s disease. I hope whether you’re planning a trip, or going on one soon, that you keep these in mind and have a stress-free excursion. Also, take a look at Kristin Stewart’s article on Everyday Health about traveling with Crohn’s disease. It’s a fantastic read, and goes into everything with a little more detail. Traveling with Crohn’s disease can be stressful, but it doesn’t need to be if you follow a stricter set of rules. Happy travels!

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