Because air travel is often faster than driving or any other mode of transport, flying may be preferrable to people with chronic health conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) because of the speed and ease with which you can get to a destination. Learn how to travel the friendly skies like a pro!
Time Required: Several weeks before the trip
- Book your ticket several weeks to months before your trip. At the time you book, ask for an aisle seat. If you're comfortable doing so, go right ahead and ask for an aisle seat close to the restroom. At this time also notify the travel agent or airline if you will need help getting on or off the plane.
- A few weeks before your flight, ask your physician for a written prescription for your medications. That way, if medication is lost you can refill your prescription when you get to your destination.
- Ask your physician and/or insurance company to provide you with a list of physicians at your destination that are qualified to treat your condition. This way, if you do have a problem on your trip, you have the name and number of a doctor who can treat you.
- When packing, be sure to put all your medications, medical supplies and insurance information in your carry-on bag. This is extremely important -- checked luggage does occasionally get lost or sent to the wrong destination and you will have to wait for it to be returned to you.
- Whenever possible, keep medications in their original packaging (including supplements and vitamins). This way, security personnel will see that you have a valid prescription for your medications.
- In your carry-on bag, pack extra undergarments, wet wipes, tissues, antibacterial hand wash, and any other items you might need in an emergency or if a restroom is not clean or stocked. Also remember to pack a snack -- it's likely that you will not want to eat the food available in the airport or on the plane.
- When you check-in at the airport, double-check your seating assignment. If you are not in an aisle seat and had requested one, ask the airline employees to move you to an aisle seat. Checking in early for your flight helps, as many seats will not be assigned until the other passengers arrive at the airport.
- If you are very ill and can not stand in line at security, tell the airline employees at check-in. They will assist you, and help you to get through security and to your gate. Remember -- a smile and a pleasant attitude will always help in these situations.
- Depending on the size of the airplane, your flight may board anywhere from 45 to 20 minutes before flight time. You can always ask the airline employees when they expect to start boarding the plane. Plan your last bathroom break in the airport accordingly.
- If the airline did not give you an aisle seat, you can always politely ask another passenger to switch with you once everyone has boarded the plane. Some passengers who often won't mind switching seats include a person who is traveling alone, a group traveling together that has been separated, or another passenger who wants the window seat.
- Passengers are generally not allowed to get up and move about the cabin of the airplane during taxi, takeoff, and landing. Ask a flight attendant what time landing may begin and plan to take your last bathroom break beforehand.
- When you get to your destination -- have a great time! But remember you'll probably want to keep to your diet and medication regimen to be in good shape for the flight home.
- Always be as polite as you can to airport and airline employees as well as other passengers.
- Eat lightly the day of your flight.
- Stick to your diet and medication schedule for a week or more before the flight to cut down on the risk of problems the day you fly.