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Travel Tips for Those with Crohn's - IBS - IBD

Author: Disabled World

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Published: Thursday, 1st July 2010 (10 years ago) - Updated: Monday, 29th April 2019 (10 months ago) .


Essential travel information for people with Crohn's disease, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Ulcerative colitis and/or Inflammatory bowel disease.

Key Points:

Main Digest

Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) and travel can sometimes be like ketchup and chocolate cake: they just don't go well together.

Well, I love international travel - and I have Crohn's disease.

Crohn's disease, also known as Crohn syndrome and regional enteritis, is a type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that may affect any part of the gastrointestinal tract from mouth to anus. Symptoms often include abdominal pain, diarrhea (which may be bloody if inflammation is severe), fever, and weight loss. Other complications may occur outside the gastrointestinal tract and include anemia, skin rashes, arthritis, inflammation of the eye, and tiredness - Learn more about Crohn's disease.

In the 10 years that I've lived with the joys of Crohn's disease Crohn's has not stopped me from the following:

My Crohn's hasn't been exactly dormant either. I've always had flare-us 1-3x per year, and have even had one in Italy and in Costa Rica. There is a lot I have learned in these experiences, some through doing it right, others from doing it wrong (8 hours bus ride with 1 stop and no onboard bathroom made me nervous). The most important thing I can say is that we should do everything we can to not let IBS impede us.

It is my theory that we are extra prone to becoming sick abroad because of a combination of subtle stresses we put on our body that can add up and may include:

A woman wearing a skirt with her back to the camera studies the arrivals and departures board at an airport.
A woman wearing a skirt with her back to the camera studies the arrivals and departures board at an airport.


Example: In Costa Rica, the pharmacy is generally the first stop when people are sick. The pharmacists are trained to treat minor ailments and provide medications without prescriptions. Every town has one or two.

The bathroom situation:

Any guide book for the country you're going to should give you this info, otherwise ask the receptionist at your hotel.

Low Stress Itinerary

Contact Your Health Insurance Provider

Buy travel insurance. It should cover:

Check your medication and doctor visit schedules when picking a date. Be sure to not only have enough pills for your trip, but also for when you return. Try to travel between scheduled appointments.

Contact Your Doctor

Visit a travel clinic:

What to Bring

Have a Strategy for Each Mode of Travel

During Your Trip

Communicate your concerns to the flight attendants. They may:

If traveling to exotic or developing countries, all travelers are at risk for GI/bowel problems. People with Crohn's disease need to be especially careful.

Be Extra Cautious with Food and Water


Note: Local food is an important part of an international experience. Consider your own health condition, recommendations from guide books, and, well, your gut feeling.

Eat and Drink Healthy Food

Becoming dehydrated stresses the body. When traveling to a new destination and new climate, it's easy to forget to drink water as we are out of our normal routine

Danger Signals

Contact a physician immediately if you experience any of these symptoms:

Be Extra Aware of Where Bathrooms Are Located

Although you're probably used to this at home, there may be much fewer bathrooms and you may have to deal with language barriers

It may seem like a lot, but any international trip requires extra planning, and most people need to do much of this for one ailment or another anyway. International travel is a true joy and provides so many lifetime memories.

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