How to Travel & Socialize Successfully with IBD
I've been traveling this past week for business and to visit with some old friends. I know I've given some advice here and there about traveling but forget just how many little "adjustments" I make while away from my familiar surroundings.
It starts the day before I embark on a trip - I was flying but most of the changes I make apply no matter what mode of transportation I take. I tend to eat a little more lightly and carefully the day before a trip. I don't take risks with what I eat nor do I try anything new before traveling. I usually eat a dinner with baked chicken and white rice and don't even risk eating a vegetable - most of the time veggies are okay for my gut but there is that possibility that a veggie will upset things, and I don't need to be running back and forth to the loo ‘cause I ate too much asparagus the night before.
The day of travel I usually have a scrambled egg for breakfast and a couple glasses of water before leaving my house for the airport. Eggs are a pretty safe food for me and will provide me with some protein for my day ahead. The rest of the day I just don't eat - I don't risk it. I drink water in order not to get dehydrated and of course, by the time I get to my destination I'm usually starving but I don't eat anything while actually traveling - at least on domestic flights. If I fly internationally I have to eat because it's risky not to eat for eight+ hours so I plan ahead and take along foods I know I can eat without a problem and that will travel well - this used to be easier when you could travel with liquids because then I would take along a bottle or two of Ensure and even a couple of yogurts in an insulated bag, but its currently not allowed.
This past Saturday I met some friends for dinner who I hadn't seen for nearly 12 years before my IBD problems existed. Thankfully my friends are kind and understanding people and only asked a question or two about why I wasn't drinking wine nor eating the salad or pate' that had been ordered for the table. I simply explained that I have a colon disease and that there are just certain things that I can no longer eat or drink. Everybody seemed satisfied with my answer and moved onto another discussion.
The friend I was staying with knows about my IBD all too well. We have stayed in very close contact over the past 12 years since I moved away from Washington, D.C., where she still lives, and staying as a guest in her home is very easy and comfortable. She stocks her fridge with things she knows I can eat, or I do a little shopping that first day I'm there and buy what I would like. She understands that sometimes my schedule has to change or stay fluid, and she didn't even look at me cross-eyed yesterday when I asked to sit in the aisle seat at the movie theater - it helps me to feel more comfortable knowing that I have a quick escape route if I do need to use the restroom.
I travel often and I now travel quite well even with IBD. I simply have to know, acknowledge, and accept my limitations - my husband is currently in India doing research for a book we are writing together. But, I knew that traveling in India is simply too risky for someone with IBD and even though I desperately wanted to participate in this adventure I had to make the decision to do what was best for me and my health, and that was not to go to India where there is a high risk of having a GI problem.
So, for all of you who may want to travel but feel unsure or scared of traveling I say, try it. Pack your "Emergency Travel Kit" and embark on your next trip with confidence.
You can read more about my travel tips in my book, Living with IBD & IBS: A Personal Journey of Success. Or, visit my website at: www.ibdandibs.com