5 summer travel packing tips for those battling chronic illness

As summer winds down, many of our travel schedules ramp up. Before heading back to school and before you gear up for that Labor Day barbeque, it’s always fun to get away for a few days with family and friends. Before you take off—whether it’s by plane, train or automobile—here are five summer travel tips.

  1. Medication and vitamins

It’s always smart to be proactive and pack more medication than you will need—you never know what travel snafu’s will come your way. The daily maintenance of your disease doesn’t take a vacation, just because you are—if anything, the change of schedule, different foods and surroundings can make your disease act up. medicine-2994788_1920I like to take 2-3 extra days of daily medications and vitamins. Along with the daily dose, pack pain and allergy medications so you have it on hand and readily available, should you need it. As someone who battles Crohn’s disease, I’ve had to fly out of the country with my biologic injection. Be mindful of how your medication needs to be stored. If it needs to stay cool, keep it within a zipped-up bag with an ice pack and remember to throw in a few alcohol swabs for good measure. Also, keep your medication on you at all times, never in a checked bag!

  1. Sunscreen

For those of us with chronic illness, the sun can be extra dangerous. Many medications put us at greater risk for skin cancer and can cause our skin to be more sensitive. Make sure you lather up and have plenty of SPF on hand.

  1. Your healthcare team’s contact info and a list of medications

luggage-933487_1280Whether it’s a business card or information that’s stored in your phone—make sure you have your doctor’s phone number readily available, should an emergency or flare up arise. It’s also helpful to keep a list of medications in your purse or wallet, so that you don’t have to worry about remembering the dosage you take or what you are on, should an emergency arise.

  1. Healthy snacks that agree with you

It’s so easy to pull over and grab fast food or eat at the airport, but oftentimes we make poor choices when we’re ravenous and desperate to get some sustenance. Pack snacks that energize you and will help sustain you through hours on the road or delays at the airport.

  1. DripDrop packets! 

Staying hydrated will prevent more than just travel headaches, 10g_Watermelon_Berry_Lemonit will help you feel your best and enjoy your trip. Pack a thermos or water bottle, and it’s as easy as using a water fountain or grabbing some bottled water and mixing up DripDrop on the go. This way—you can enjoy the sun and warm temperatures and keep your body on track for feeling its best.

Hospital bag essentials: What to pack & where to find it

If you battle inflammatory bowel disease, chances are, along that journey you’ve been blindsided by a flare that sends you to the hospital. One of the hardest things to do is try and pack a bag for the hospital while you’re doubled over in pain and can’t think straight. This week, a guest post from my friend, and fellow IBD advocate, Amanda Osowski. IMG_2499Amanda shares the hospital bag “must haves,” so you can be prepared the next time around. Amanda, take it away…

As a Crohn’s patient, my often urgent, sometimes frequent trips to the hospital used to leave me wondering how I could better prepare for these moments, when they arrive.

For several years, I have been keeping a mostly packed hospital bag. Today, I operate off a combination of a mostly pre-packed duffle bag, along with a note on my phone of a few items to add to the bag before I head to the hospital. This has allowed me to feel slightly more in control of the times my body does not cooperate.

Steps for filling a pre-packed hospital bag:

  1. Start by finding a good duffle bag. I have found that ones with internal/external/side pockets are best for me to keep things organized. (This is mine!) Often bags used for working out/the gym are good candidates for this purpose based on size. Amazon has many options, and stores like Marshalls/T.J. Maxx often have name brand bags for inexpensive prices.
  2. Records:
    1. Keep a printed list of current medications, supplements, allergies, doctors and their contact information. This is much easier to reference in the ER or in-patient with multiple doctors rounding.
    2. Have a printed copy of any medical documentation from your providers – especially if you have a port, picc or central line, an ostomy, feeding tube, or other medical devices/necessities. I also store these on my cell phone, so I have a mobile copy.
    3. Share with your parents/spouse/friends where this bag is kept, in case you are unable to grab it before becoming admitted.

Essentials

  • 3-5 pairs of underwear IMG_2495
  • 4-6 pairs of socks with grippers on the bottom. I really like yoga socks like these or these or these!
  • Flip flops or slide shoes or slippers with grippers on the bottom (for leaving the room).
  • Glasses/Case or Contacts/Case, including cleaner wipes/solution
  • Hand Sanitizer / Wipes
  • Lysol Spray
  • Pen/pad of paper or notebook
  • Phone charger
    • I would recommend either purchasing an extra 6ft. or 10ft. cord on Amazon to keep in your bag, or purchasing an extension cord to help with outlets that are in inconvenient places
    • Also – wall plugs like this that have the ability to charge more than one item at a time are great.
  • Ear plugs (in case of roommates or beeping IVs!) – I like these or these
  • Eye masks (to sleep w/lights) – This one is my favorite.
  • Hard candies to suck on/throat lozenges for dry throat

Clothes:

Note: I don’t have a ton of clothes that I like/find comfy, and because I often want my favorite items when I’m in the hospital, I usually keep these on my “To Add” list (see below)

  • 2-3 Comfortable bottoms (PJ pants, shorts, leggings, sweatpants) – loose fitting is best
  • 1-2 Zip up sweater/sweatshirt/fleece in case it’s chilly
  • (Men) 3-5 tank tops or tee shirts with loose neck/arms
  • (Women) 3-5 Tank tops with built in bra or tee shirts and sports bra with no metal

 Toiletries

  • Toothbrush/Toothpaste
  • Mouth wash
  • Deodorant
  • Hairbrush/Comb
  • Hair ties/bobby pins/elastic headbands
  • Dry Shampoo (My favorite listed here, and Target often sells travel size bottles for $5.99)
  • Shower items: shampoo/conditioner/body wash/razor
  • Lotion
  • Chapstick
  • Face wipes – these are my favorites
  • Wet wipes
  • Calmoseptine!
  • Nail file/nail clippers
  • If you’re female, tampons/pads just in case!
  • Body spray like this!

 Comfort

  • Toilet Paper (As a Crohnie – my bottom often cannot handle the hospital 1 ply)
  • Stuffed animal
  • Soft blanket (I’ve found my favorites at Marshalls or Home Goods)
  • Pillow (or your own pillow case)
  • Hair dryer (if that’s important to you after hospital showers)
  • Bathrobe (if that’s your thing – I don’t keep one in my bag)
  • Laundry bag/bag to keep dirty clothes separate from clean ones (I just keep a few plastic target bags in my duffle)
  • Kleenex/Tissues if you prefer soft ones
  • Heating pad
  • Durable/tall refillable water bottle
  • 1-2 sealed bottles of water (yourself + caregiver)
  • Photos – friends, spouses, pets. While most of us have these digitally, sometimes it’s nice to put a small frame on your hospital windowsill or nightstand

Entertainment

  • Magazines / Books – physical or downloaded to your phone/tablet IMG_2496
  • Deck of cards or small game
  • Headphones
  • Coloring book/colored pencils or crayons or markers

I use small makeup size pouches or bags to organize things together (ie: electronic related items, toiletries, etc.), and keep this all in my duffle bag, which lives in our guest room closet. This is important for me to remember, in case my husband is out of town and a friend offers to swing by our place and pick it up from me!

I mentioned my “To Add” list that I keep on my phone. Here’s what’s on it!

 To Add:

  • iPad + charger
  • Laptop + charger
  • Clothes (See above!)
  • Snacks: Including this obviously depends on your current intake abilities, or your caregivers, as well as your regular hospital’s offerings.

amandaThat’s it! If there are things on here that aren’t your jam, just leave them out or substitute with something more your style!

Connect with Amanda on social media! While she shares posts about her health adventures and patient advocacy efforts, she also share lots of other great content too!

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