Travel Blog

Travelling with IBD (Crohn's Disease)

There are over 300,000 people in the UK who are affected by IBD – yet it’s believed that there are many more people who are still undiagnosed and suffering in silence.

As with any other pre-existing medical condition, patients receiving treatment for IBD should never be put off by the idea of travelling abroad.

Travel isn’t, and simply should never be limited to the supremely fit and healthy.

And, although IBD can be debilitating for a lot of people, there are ways in which patients can manage the disease during their holidays.

What is IBD?

IBD stands for Inflammatory Bowel Disease – of which there are two main forms: Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.

While ulcerative colitis only affects the large intestine, Crohn’s disease can have an impact on any part of the human digestive system.

Crohn’s disease symptoms therefore vary from stomach aches and diarrhoea, to fatigue and sometimes even extreme weight loss over time. That being said, it’s not a disease you can necessarily identify quickly.

In fact, Crohn’s disease is often referred to as a hidden disease.

Some people often try and hide their Crohn’s disease symptoms out of embarrassment. Although the effect of the condition can sometimes be unpleasant – tackling the disease head-on, is probably the best way to adjust and live a normal life as you should.

Travelling abroad is no different.

However, there are a few things you need to bear in mind first, and the key is all in the preparation…

Holiday Preparation for IBD Patients

If you’re smart about it – you can tailor your holiday plans to suit you before you even book the flight.

You don’t have to needlessly suffer due to a lack of preparation. First of all, think about the type of holiday you’re going on.

What needs to go in your suitcase?

What anti-inflammatory medication can you take in your hand luggage?

How far can you travel without a needing a toilet break?

These may seem like obvious things to think about, but by mapping out a detailed itinerary, formed specifically to meet your personal needs – you’re putting yourself in a much better position to be as comfortable as possible throughout your trip.

The vast majority of airport terminal buildings will have restroom access at regular intervals as you make your way through customs – however, it’s always worth checking with the airport beforehand to see if you need to make any special arrangements.

You may need to sort out what type of medication can go on the plane with you with your airline. Once you’ve booked your flight, get an official letter from your GP or IBD specialist. This will help you get through security and onto the plane with minimal fuss when it comes to justifying your various prescriptions.

Travelling on a Crohn’s Disease Diet

Ensuring your travel arrangements run smoothly is just the first box to tick when it comes to your overall plan.

It’s what you do when you get to your destination that’s even more important.

Or more specifically – it’s what you eat.

If you stick to a rigid nutritional plan to cope with the symptoms of Crohn’s disease – you might want to avoid steering off it. However, that doesn’t mean you should be put off trying new and interesting delicacies that many foreign countries have to offer.

Food is so often an integral aspect of the travelling experience.  

Crohn’s disease patients may want to avoid foods that are high in fibre, or gluten. That includes whole wheat bread and pasta products.

In most cases, it’s better to stick with rice, potatoes, and proteins that are low in fat. This includes fish and white meat poultry.

You shouldn’t be put off eating out in restaurants. As long as you know what works for you, you’ll know what you should and shouldn’t order off the menu.

Crohn’s Disease Medication Abroad  

When taking your Crohn’s disease medication abroad, it’ wise to keep it all in its original packaging.

It’s also highly advised that you keep it all in your hand luggage, should your larger suitcase be lost or misplaced.

Again, make sure you do your due diligence on the country your visiting before you arrive. Most embassies have websites where you can check what medications can and can’t be brought into the country.

Always try and bring more than enough to last for the duration of your trip. This will prevent you from needing to buy more when you’re abroad. The cost of medication in some countries can be very expensive.

Should your medication end up lost or stolen however, medical travel insurance is essential.

As well as covering you for emergency medical expenses, an extensive medical travel insurance policy can also cover you for cancelation, personal accident, travel delay and even legal expenses.

With Medical Travel Compared, you can get a quote for a specialist IBD travel insurance policy in three simple steps. All you need to do is let us know a few details – including your destination, duration of your stay and medical history. Once you declare IBD as a condition, you’ll be asked a few questions so that we can provide you with the most relevant quotes.

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