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Helpful Hints for Traveling with Incontinence

June 11, 2018

Summer is here and many people think about traveling to visit friends and family both near and far. However, the thought of traveling with incontinence can be enough to dampen anyone’s travel aspirations.

If you are dealing with this dilemma, do not worry – incontinence does not have to stop travel plans! Here are a few practical, common-sense tips that can make travel dreams possible.

These helpful tips are shared from the book "365 Caregiving Tips: Travel and Respite, Practical Tips from Everyday Caregivers" by Pegi Foulkrod, Gincy Heins, Richard Kreis, Trish Hughes Kreis, and Kathy Lowrey. The book was written by five caregiving friends who have all traveled with their loved one and who have a passion for sharing what they have learned.

  • Rely on heavy duty briefs/underwear during vacation. This reduces the risk of an accident that may cause embarrassment. More absorbent briefs/underwear will last longer, reduce the chances of an accident, and help with incontinence through the night.
  • Bring along a supply of disposable underpads (chux). Place an underpad on the wheelchair seat for those long waits in the terminals and transfer it to the airline seat in case of a leak. Disposable underpads are preferred, so you are not carting around a soiled cloth protector.
  • Lap blanket. Bring along a light lap blanket in case there is an accident—this saves some embarrassment—and serves the dual purpose of keeping the individual warm when traveling on cold planes, trains, or automobiles.
  • Be prepared! Bring extra briefs, gloves, wipes and garbage bags in the carry-on bag so they are accessible while in the airport or during day trips. As much as one plans their trip, something will inevitably get off track. Whether it is a flight delay, problems checking into the hotel, or a longer than anticipated day trip, having extra supplies on hand will give you one less thing to worry about.
  • Disposable underpads pads for the hotel. Bring disposable underpads along to use on hotel beds, even if the hotel provides waterproof sheets. The disposable underpads will be easy to dispose of and you won’t have to worry about needing a complete bedding change every day.
  • Bring LOTS of disposable underpads pads (chux). Put the disposable underpads on the bottom sheet and on top of the individual (if they don’t mind). This protects not only the bottom sheet and mattress but the top sheet and blanket as well. Do not use the washable cloth underpads for lengthy tips. Invariably, there will be an accident and it will be much simpler to dispose of the chux.
  • Routine is key. Upon arrival, set up the bathroom similar to how it is set up at home. Keep the briefs, wipes, and gloves within easy reach. Sticking to a routine while traveling will reduce the risk of falls and confusion.
  • Bathroom schedule alarms. Set an alarm on your phone as a reminder to change the brief regularly. It's easy to get so caught up in daily activities that one may forget to keep to a regular bathroom schedule.
  • Barrier cream. Bring along a barrier cream in case the change in temperature or humidity creates a rash.

Don’t let incontinence stop you from enjoying adventures! With a little preparation, traveling with incontinence can once again be an enjoyable experience. Using these tips while traveling will provide peace of mind and allow caregivers and individuals with incontinence to enjoy many trips while they make many great memories.

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