You booked your flight, you have planned your trip, you’ve packed your suitcase. Now for your carry-on.
- What: I prefer a backpack and a purse, small enough that I can put it in the backpack if necessary. I have never understood people with trolley’s for carry-on (exception, people with kids). What in the world is in there?! Most people with IBD suffer from back pain, often mild arthritis etc. So do your backpack research! About six years ago, I invested in a North Face Amira, and never regretted it. It looks banged up these days, but it’s the best for my back. Go to your local outdoor store and tell them your general and particular needs.
- What’s in there? The meds I talked about in the previous post. A pair of warm socks, my glasses, contact lens case, eye-drops, tissues (super duper important), chewing gum (for take-off and landing), and a travel pack of wet wipes. A change of underwear, because you never know. A protein bar or crackers- don’t rely on airplane food. Alternative entertainment- don’t rely on the in-flight entertainment or the promise of wi-fi.
What to Wear
A lot of this depends on when you travel and where to. In the winter, you’ll have your coat, and depending on where you live or where you go this can take up a huge amount of space. I avoid this and layer, whichever the season. The first rule is obviously to be comfortable, but this often means at the expense of any aesthetics whatsoever. Aesthetically, airports kill my fashion-loving heart. Here’s a rather simple formula to look semi-decent:
Feet: go for something you can easily slip on and off and you can walk well in. I always end up walking longer than expected in airports: gates get changed, you wait during security, and depending where you are the airports are HUGE. No crocs and no toe-shoes. You are not doing yard work. Flip-Flops maybe, but think of the cold plane and the long walks at the airport (blisters between your toes HURT)
Outfit: Leggings or yoga pants, jeans you feel well in. You are sitting for a long time, and you can get bloated from airplane food, make it comfy. Men: No shorts or khaki pants- this is the no. 1 way to get identified as an American btw…. Top: I usually go for a flow-y tunic with a t-shirt underneath and a scarf- again, you want to be comfortable, but you don’t need to look as if you got dressed in the dark. I am torn about hoodies: They are soo comfy! So snuggly warm in the winter. But, as someone who has been working in universities the last ten years, I can tell you: Nobody cares about your alma mater. It says nothing about how smart you are, how hard you’ve worked, or what sacrifices your family made to get you there. It shows that you went to the bookstore. Find an in-between. A hoodie without any writing on it.
Should I stay or should I go?
This is a question that IBD peeps ask themselves on a daily basis. It may be the dinner with friends, going to the grocery store, or travelling. When you have a disease that can strike at any time, it’s hard to make plans. I am on the rather fearless end of the spectrum- I have had this all my life, and I won’t let it stop me. That being said, there have been occasions when I should not have traveled. Four days after I had a seton drain placed, I traveled from Germany to the West Coast. By the time I arrived, I was feverish, close to delirious and it took me forever to recover (from the flight and the surgery). This taught me to listen to my body.
Ultimately, everybody needs to decide for themselves- yes, by all means, talk to your doctor, and articulate your doubts with your fellow travelers and friends, but at the end of the day, you need to decide whether to stay or go. It’s your body.
May all your travels be blessed.