Everybody needs a vacation, but if you’re dealing with Crohn’s disease, a getaway can sometimes be a reminder that you can’t ever get away from Crohn’s. Like it or not, you and your Crohn’s are travel companions. Fortunately, there are ways for you two to get along.

Making sure you are prepared will help alleviate guesswork and stress and ensure that you relax and enjoy your trip.

Pack a Survival Kit

In case of emergency, here are some things you'll want in your carry-on bag:

  • prescription medications in their original bottles
  • over-the-counter antacids and antidiarrheals
  • disposable tissues and moist wipes
  • hand sanitizer
  • a change of underwear and outfit
  • nutritional supplements
  • meal replacement bars

Here are some other important things to consider before you travel:

  • Remember to take your meds on schedule.
  • Be sure to include a list of contact information for doctors, hospitals, and pharmacies located in your travel destinations and at home.
  • Have your doctor sign a document detailing your condition, and bring photocopies of your medical chart, prescriptions, insurance cards, passport, and driver’s license.
  • Check with your doctor to learn whether or not you need any immunization shots, and buy travel insurance to cover sudden health issues.
  • If you don’t own a portable electronic translator, do a little homework and learn how to say “doctor,” “hospital,” “pharmacy,” and other potentially life-saving terms in the language of your destination.
  • Consult a handy international lexicon of brand name and generic IBD medications from the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA).

Also, become familiar with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) guidelines for “Travelers with Disabilities and Medical Conditions.”

Plan Ahead

Monitor your symptoms, and try to limit your travel to those times when you’re in remission.

Consider the following when making reservations:

  • When you book your plane or train trip, choose an aisle seat next to the lavatory for the sake of convenience.
  • Custom order special meals in advance that won’t disrupt your diet regimen or upset your gastrointestinal tract.
  • Choose hotels and restaurants that offer the best variety of options for you. Whenever possible, stay in spots where you can shop for and cook your own meals to retain maximum control over your diet.
  • Choose hotels and restaurants that offer the best variety of options for you. Whenever possible, stay in spots where you can shop for and cook your own meals to retain maximum control over your diet.
  • If visiting the developing world, avoid buffets and street food vendors. Be extra care to avoid tap water, ice cubes, juices, raw fruits and vegetables, and any other foods likely to harbor bacteria that could lead to flare-ups. Always drink plenty of bottled water to keep hydrated.

Where to Sit or Squat

If you experience any gastric distress like fever, chills, dizziness, abdominal pain, or bloody stool, you should find a bathroom immediately. Otherwise, the condition may get worse.

Before traveling, learn how to translate words like “toilet,” “urgent,” and “emergency” into the language of your destination. Whether you’re sightseeing on foot or on wheels, do yourself a favor and take time beforehand to locate public restrooms along your route.

Consult with SitOrSquat, a comprehensive source based on Google Maps and built on continuing user submissions. SitOrSquat finds bathrooms around the world, rates them from one to five stars, and uses colored icons to tell you when they’re open or closed for operation. Searching for a public toilet on SitOrSquat is as easy as entering the city, postal code, intersection, or street address.

In addition to accessing SitOrSquat online through your computer, you can text message “sitorsquat” for assistance, or download mobile apps for the iPhone, iPod Touch, and BlackBerry. Visit SitOrSquat.com to view instructional videos and find out how and why you may want to personalize your bathroom search.

If you can’t find a public toilet in time, show a shopkeeper your “I can’t wait” notification card, issued to members of the CCFA. You can learn other benefits of card membership here.

Now that you know how, when, and where to go throughout the world, enjoy your travels and don’t ever let Crohn’s slow you down.