What to Pack in Your IBD Travel Kit

Pack Your Travel Kit And Go, Go, Go!

Does your IBD keep you at home? Travel is one of the great joys in life. Packing the right things for your trip may help you to get out and enjoy your life. Image © Justin Hutchinson / The Image Bank / Getty Images

Many people with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) have difficulty traveling. There are many reasons for this, but one of the main concerns is not having access to a bathroom. Traveling by car is almost easier because pulling over for a minute into a rest stop or bringing along a portable toilet are both options. But when you're using public transportation — a bus, a plane, or a train — things can get a little more anxiety-inducing. That's why when you're bringing your ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease on a trip, the best idea is to have a kit already stocked and packed and ready to go.

Only — what should be in the kit? How do you keep it small so you're not carrying a suitcase everywhere? Exactly what goes into your kit is going to need a little thought and personalization on your part. However, that being said, there are some basic items that you are always going to want by your side when you're traveling. This is for practical purposes, of course, because accidents can — and do — happen. (And not just of the bathroom variety — plenty of unexpected things can happen when you're traveling.) But it's also for peace of mind. If you know that you are prepared for a little bump in the road, you can quiet your mind and have less worry.

Are you ready to start packing and start living your life? Let's get started!

Clean Underwear

You should probably take a spare pair of underwear no matter where you go, but when you are traveling you absolutely need an extra pair, plus enough to get you through the trip. Image © Nick Dolding / The Image Bank / Getty Images

Does it go without saying that you should always be carrying an extra pair of underwear? If you have the space, in fact, carry 2 pair. You always want a fresh pair of underwear with you when you're traveling. Even if you don't have IBD, or you've never had an IBD accident, things happen during travel, and having a clean pair of drawers to change into is really nice during a long flight delay or if the airline loses your luggage.

A Pair of Pants

Did you pack an extra pair of pants? Some people buy duplicates of the same pair of pants to take on trips because of the possibility of needing a spare pair. Image © Akimasa Harada / Moment Open / Getty Images

Traveling is great, but it does have the drawback in not being able to dash home for a change of clothes. A pair of pants, a skirt, a pair of shorts — whatever is appropriate for your travel situation and your lifestyle, just bring something to wear in case of an accident. This will certainly take up space in your carry-on, and if space is really tight, it might feel unnecessary to bring it. However, a change of bottoms really is something you should try to make space for, because if you get into a bad situation, it can really help you to get cleaned up and get on your way with as little fuss and embarrassment on your part as possible.

Something you can do to save space when traveling is to bring old clothes. Sounds strange, but it works like this: hold on to a few pieces of clothing, like pants or underwear, that you would normally think about getting rid of because it has just about outlived its usefulness. Then, pack a pair or two in the travel emergency kit. If you wind up needing it, you use it. If not, and you need to travel lighter on your way home, toss them or give them away!

Laundry Soap Sheets

Laundry In A Sink
Will you need to wash out some clothes quick while you are traveling? Bring along some travel sized laundry detergent. Image © Mieke Dalle / Getty Images

Do you ever do laundry when you're traveling? Doing laundry at your destination can help you cut down on the clothes you need to bring, and if anything has gotten dirty or travel-stained, you can wash it during your trip so that you can wear it again. Some people like to wash a few things the night before going home, because it's just a little less work to do after traveling home. The only thing is, sometimes you get to your destination and laundry detergent is hard to come by. If you have a skin condition, you probably want to stick with your favorite brand and the time to try new things is not while you are traveling. Laundry soap sheets are very thin and light, which makes them easy to carry. Some of them will work in a sink as well as a washing machine, so even if all you have available to you is a bucket or basin of water, you can wash your clothes.

Portable Laundry Hooks

Laundry Hooks
Some laundry hooks can really come in handy if you need to rinse out some clothing or towels. They're lightweight, easy to pack, and useful for a variety of situations.

The portable laundry hook is a little gadget that comes in all kinds of handy when you are traveling. It's a hook with a clip on the bottom. Have you ever had to wash out a pair of pants, a shirt, or a pair of underwear while traveling? If you don't have the time or inclination or budget to use a hotel laundry service or a washing machine, you need to get your clothes clean and dry, and often in a hurry. You can use this hook to hang up your clothes to dry on the shower curtain rod, or even on a doorknob. A lot of things will dry overnight, especially lightweight material, but if they don't, this tool is also handy if you need to use a hair dryer to get out the damp.

Wet Wipes

Wet Sipes
You might not want to carry an entire package of wet wipes, but a travel pack or even an individually packaged wipe, can be a great addition to your IBD travel kit. Image © Dorling Kindersley / Dorling Kindersley / Getty Images

Wet wipes are essential for anyone in almost any travel situation, but they are really crucial to people living with IBD. If you need to wash up, a fresh wet wipe just can't be beat. When traveling you can encounter all kinds of situations, including restrooms with no running water, no toilet paper, no soap, and no paper towels. But, if you have a wet wipe or two, you can manage in the event of all those situations and more. A pack of 10 wipes is just about perfect for a trip, but individual wipes also work really well for travel. If you use up your wipes and need more, they can usually be found in gift shops and drugstores. In a pinch, some restaurants or fast food chains also have wet wipes available, just ask. If you really get into trouble, try asking a mom with young children if she has a wet wipe or a baby wipe that you can use — a lot of moms carry a stash, too.

List Of Medications and Physician Contacts

Notepad with writing
One of the best things you can do for yourself is to keep a list of your medications and your physicians. A quick reference list can make a huge difference for you if you need information in a hurry or if something is forgotten or lost when you travel. Image © Andrea Benedetti / Moments / Getty Images

A list of the medications you are taking should always be with you, but most especially when you are traveling. Take a few minutes to write down your current medications as well as any supplements or vitamins you are taking. Don't forget over-the-counter drugs too, such as pain relievers, acid reducers, or anti-diarrheals. Add a line for any medications to which you have an allergy.

Another key piece of information that can help in an emergency while you are traveling is the contact information for your physicians. Most doctors have their business cards available in their office — just grab a few next time you are there. You can carry the cards with you, or put them all on a scanner, hit copy, and you have all their contact information on one 8X11 piece of paper (don't forget to include your own name). This has the added benefit for you in that the next time you need a phone number or two, you don't have to go searching, it's just right there in your wallet or purse.


Will you be able to eat the foods that they have on the plane, or in the airport? That's a roll of the dice if you are traveling to somewhere you've never been. As much as you can, be sure to bring snacks that are filling and will go easy on your gut. Image © Heidi Coppock-Beard / Photolibrary / Getty Images

Unless you travel a particular route often, you might not know what is going to be available for you to eat and drink. When flying, you are not going to be able to take drinks or foods that are "spreadable" (like peanut butter) through security. Many airports, train stations, and bus stations offer something in the way of refreshments, but there's no guarantee it's going to be something that is healthful for you. Bringing some kind of snack, even if you have to consume it before you go through security at the airport, is going to be your best choice. If you are checking your luggage, putting a few things into your suitcase to eat when you get to your destination is helpful. 

In most cases, when you get to your destination, you can buy the food you need from the local drugstore or convenience store. Another approach, if you're really not sure about finding food, is to send yourself a box at your destination. It may or may not be cost-effective, depending on the circumstances, but it may be the easiest thing you can do. Call ahead to find out if you can forward a box and pick it up when you get to your hotel or wherever you are staying.

Plastic Bag (Or A Wet Bag)

Zip top bag
A plastic bag has so many uses when you are traveling: you can use it to hold your travel kit, or to carry wet or soiled items until you can wash them. Don't leave them off your list!. Image © mstay / Digital Vision Vectors / Getty Images

Of course you will need to put all of your items into a bag that you can grab in a hurry if you need to dash. The best idea is to get a wet bag: this is a reusable waterproof bag that can be washed and dried. It's useful in a variety of situations, and the best thing about it is that you just need one and you won't need to replace it — you just rinse it out and hang it up to dry. 

However, if you don't have a wet bag to carry everything in, use whatever bag you have, but remember to include a plastic bag. A plastic grocery bag or a large zip-top bag. If you have wet or soiled clothing, these can go into your bag and be stowed away for washing or discarding later. Plastic grocery bags are harder to rinse and re-use, but a zip-top bag can usually be washed out in a sink and dried.

Useful Things You Can Take From A Hotel

Hotel Toiletries
You know all those little goodies in your hotel room? Don't leave them behind! They are super helpful for restocking your travel kit. If you don't want to take the contents, empty them out and take the containers: you can refill them with your own favorite products. Image © Isu / Stock4B / Getty Images

Now that you've got the basics of your IBD travel kit in place, what happens if you wind up using it on your trip? Well, you've been able to clean up after an accident or just after a normal trip to the bathroom. You've been able to wash and dry your clothes if you needed. Now you're ready to travel home and you've got to restock. If you can't make it to a gift shop or a drugstore, there are a few things in your hotel room that you can use.

Bar of Soap: If you've run out of wet wipes, take that little bar of soap with you in case you need to wash up in a bathroom that doesn't have soap. You could also take the shampoo, but that tends to be trickier because it is a liquid.

Toilet Paper: If the roll is almost empty, that's perfect for you to grab and take with you. If not, carefully roll some up and tuck it into your emergency kit.

Tissues: Take a few tissues out of the box, fold them up, and stick them in your pocket for the trip.

Shower Cap: Not something that is standard in hotels anymore, but if you do have one, grab it and take it with you because it can be used in lieu of a plastic bag, and it can also be used to fit over your hand like a disposable glove if you need it.

Plastic Laundry Bag: Did you use the closet in your hotel room? Many of them have a plastic bag that can be used to send your laundry out hanging on one of the pants hangers. If you need a plastic bag for your kit or to carry your kit, take this one with you.

After you arrive home, don't forget to restock your kit again. Then think about it — did you have what you needed? Is there anything you would add? Anything you would not bring with you again? Tell me about it! You can find me on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Instagram.

Continue Reading