How to Travel with Urinary Incontinence
The summer months herald many Americans hitting the road to see family and friends, visit new places and take long weekend trips. Vacations may have been delayed or canceled due to the pandemic, but people this summer are on the move. Travel, whether it is by car, ship, plane or train, can be frustrating on its own with flight delays or car failure or finding places to eat or even irritation with your fellow travelers. For many Americans in their 60s and older, there can be another problem that needs to be prepared for and dealt with on a trip: urinary incontinence. Depending on the severity of their condition, travel should still be possible, manageable and fun.
The below guidance tips can help prevent accidents, aid preparation and help you travel with urinary incontinence.
Before You Leave the House:
Talk to your doctor about medication options to help manage incontinence symptoms. It can provide you with additional peace of mind and confidence during travel, especially if access to a bathroom is limited. Some of these drugs may require several weeks of use to reach full therapeutic effect so coordinating with your doctor well in advance of your departure is the best approach.
Packing a dedicated bag to take on the plane or train while your luggage is stowed elsewhere is quite smart. The bag should contain a change of clothes, medication if applicable, extra incontinence products and a few plastic bags for containing soiled clothing and disposing of used products discretely. This not only helps if an accident occurs but can also be a lifesaver if the airline loses one’s checked baggage.
If traveling by plane or train, reserve an aisle seat if at all possible for any leg of the trip. Also consider getting the aisle seat near a bathroom. Access to the bathroom is maximized from an aisle seat since you do not need to move past other people in your row or wake people up to get by them. Being close to a bathroom, while not always preferred, makes it much easier to know if the bathroom is vacant or occupied when you need to go. If your airline or train company does not accept reserved seating or does not assign seats at all, consider paying for early check-in capabilities. This will guarantee a spot at the front of the boarding line and give you the most options to find an optimal seat.
If you are traveling internationally, knowing how to ask where the restroom is in different languages can lessen anxiety and avoid embarrassment. They should be fairly easy phrases to learn or, if you are traveling with someone who speaks the language or visiting a native speaker, they can help you as well.
There are also phone apps for locating bathrooms. You can download them from the app store on your device. Two popular options include SitOrSquat and Bathroom Scout, both are available for free in the Apple and Google app stores. Using the app to find bathrooms close to the various places you'll be going each day can decrease anxiety and make the trip more fun.
If you are traveling by car instead, map your route, identify highway exits, rest areas and plan regular stops for bathroom breaks. Any of the mapping apps on your phone, such as Google Maps or Ways, can help. Be sure to account for pit stops when timing the drive to ensure you arrive at your destination on schedule.
Beyond wearing comfortable clothing that is easy to change when traveling, it would be a good idea to wear incontinence underwear for protection. Again, depending on the severity of your condition, wearing tabbed incontinence briefs or pull-ups provides the most protection and ease of change if necessary, especially for longer trips.
Limiting your intake of fluids before and during travel, particularly air travel, will minimize your need to go to the bathroom. However, you do not want to become dehydrated on longer flights or train trips and thus discussing it with your doctor and making a plan is best. Air travel presents some unique challenges with air pressure changes and tight seat belts putting extra pressure on the bladder. Not to mention airplane bathrooms are tiny and when the fasten seatbelt signs are displayed can be hard to predict.
If you want to stay hydrated, water is the most bladder-friendly choice. If you decide to drink something else, be aware of avoiding things that irritate the blader like coffee, alcohol and carbonated beverages.
Please contact us with any of your travel related questions, shop our line of men's and women's incontinence products for your trip.