If you suffer from urinary incontinence the thought of going away for a night, let alone a short break or holiday, can fill you with dread. But with careful planning, and by investing in some good habits, you can travel with confidence and enjoy valuable time away. So, regardless of whether you are travelling by plane, train, coach or car, here are some top preparation tips that will help you to have a happy and successful trip:
- Take enough supplies for your trip and at least an additional 2 days’ worth, in case you are delayed, or you use more than expected due to a change in environment/climate and the food and drink you consume.
- Always take enough medical devices/supplies in your hand luggage to last at least 3-4 days, unfortunately, lost luggage when flying isn’t uncommon.
- Try to take a copy of the Manufacturer instructions for use with you to help explain the use of the medical devices you are carrying.
- Make sure you take the helpline number for your home delivery company and manufacturer, so if you need additional supplies, it may be possible to have them sent directly to you.
- If you are travelling with friends and family who are aware of your medical condition, share your essential equipment between everyone’s luggage, that way if one case goes missing all is not lost.
Airline & Customs
- Take a travel certificate with you, most manufacturers/home delivery services have one, this document explains the reason you are carrying medical equipment with you and is often translated into the most common languages.
- Ask your healthcare professional for an open letter addressed `to whom it may concern’ which states what the medical devices you are carrying are used for and that if an examination is necessary that a qualified medical practitioner should be present.
- Obtain a sunflower lanyard either from the airport at check in or online before arrival, the lanyard is used to highlight to staff that you have a hidden medical condition/disability.
- Notify the airline that you will need to carry medical devices in your luggage, a) they might increase your hand luggage allowance and b) they can sometimes arrange for your cases to be stored in a separate pressurised hold as they are important medical supplies.
- If luggage weight is an issue, consider taking catheters without integral fluid as this can make a considerable difference to the weight.
- It’s a good idea to go to the toilet before boarding the plane and ask for an aisle seat close to the toilet if possible.
- Rules regarding fluids/liquids in hand luggage can change. Good practice would be to keep liquids/fluids in containers less than 100ml. Catheters with integral saline sachets normally contain approximately 30ml. It is possible to obtain medical exemption clearance for essential medical devices/ medicines, always check with your airline.
If the water quality is poor, for example if you wouldn’t drink it, then use bottled water, saline solution or sterile water for activating the hydrophilic coating on catheters, alternatively you could use a catheter with an integral saline water/gel sachet.
If you are prone to urine infections (UTI) it is advisable to ask your GP about taking a course of antibiotics with you, so you can start the course immediately should you begin to show symptoms of a UTI.
If you are concerned about being able to safely and cleanly perform intermittent self-catheterisation (ISC) during your travels, ask your urology nurse specialist about alternatives such as an indwelling catheter and drainage bag.
If toilet facilities are difficult to find you can obtain some catheters that have an integral urine collection bag.
The majority of individuals using medical devices will have a pre-existing medical condition(s) and therefore, should ensure that adequate medical/travel insurance cover for every eventuality is obtained before travelling.
Flying and hot climates dehydrates you, so drink plenty of non-caffeinated and non-alcoholic fluids.
If you haven’t got the room or the weight capacity to take your nightstand, then take two coat hangers with you, place the 2-coat hangers between the mattress and the bed base with the hooks pointing up and use this to hang your night bags on, this is also very discreet. Please note plastic flatpack nightstands are available.
Have a fantastic holiday from all the team at Manfred Sauer UK