Handy Checklist: Traveling with Crohn’s, Ulcerative Colitis

You don’t have to avoid traveling just because your child has Crohn’s or ulcerative colitis.  To help families prepare, our IBD team put this checklist together to help families when traveling abroad or here in the US. Maintaining your child’s daily regimen will help keep symptoms at bay and help your family to have an enjoyable trip!

 

Traveling with Crohn's or Ulcerative Colitis

Before You Leave

Contact your GI doctor prior to traveling.

Inform him of your destination. He can suggest names of providers in that location and provide a written plan of action in case you need medical attention while away.

Make sure your vaccinations are up-to-date.

You may not be able to receive certain vaccines depending on what medications you are taking (and no live vaccines if you’re immunocompromised).

Bring enough of your medications to make it through the trip.

You may need to refill some of them prior to leaving. Carry these medications with you at all times (do not place in checked luggage if you’re flying). If your medications require refrigeration, carry them in a cooler and inform flight attendants and the TSA.  You may also want to ask your doctor for a letter describing your medical condition and what medications you are taking.

Keep your doctor’s phone number and insurance card in your wallet.

If you’re traveling abroad, you may want to look into international medical insurance.

Pack a necessities bag to keep close by.

Your necessities may include things like extra toilet paper and/or wipes, ointments, extra underwear, hand sanitizer, anti-diarrheal medications, and high calorie nutritional supplements.

Print a notification card, where necessary.

If flying with an ostomy, there is a TSA notification card that can be shown to TSA prior to your security screening and informs them of your medical condition. You may also want to carry an ‘I Can’t Wait’ card that can assist with using public restrooms.

While You're There

Drinks lots of fluids to stay hydrated.

It’s especially important to stay well-hydrated while you’re traveling. And if you’re headed out of the country, drink bottled water or water that has first been boiled to avoid potential symptoms.

Beware of exotic foods that could trigger symptoms.

Avoid the same food triggers that you would at home. And if you are unsure of a particular food, it’s best to play it safe and not eat it.

Know what to do if symptoms arise.

Have a plan for what to do if symptoms begin and where the local doctor is located. Consult a physician for high fever, shaking, chills, profuse bloody diarrhea, severe abdominal pain, dizziness, or signs of dehydration.

Learn key words.

If traveling outside the US, know the language and how to say things such as toilet, bathroom, urgent, emergency, and pharmacy. Download an app that translates languages.


When you get home, report any abnormal symptoms (fever, pain, rash, bloody diarrhea) that your child had over the trip to your primary doctor and GI doctor if indicated. We hope you and your family a safe and enjoyable trip!

To learn more about our Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition, or to schedule an appointment, please call 513-636-4415 or email us at gastro@cchmc.org.
Renee Fages, RN

About the Author: Renee Fages, RN

Renee Fages, CPN, MSN, RNII, is the program administrator for the IBD program at Cincinnati Children’s. She has been a nurse at Cincinnati Children’s for 10 years, primarily on the inpatient gastroenterology unit. She enjoys staying active and traveling, playing games, and planning her wedding for June 2017!

Write a comment

Your data will be safe! Your e-mail address will not be published. Also other data will not be shared with third person. Required fields marked as *

Comments

  1. Gretchen April 04, 11:19
    Thanks for information! Looking forward to a safe and happy trip.