Summer is here and kids are out of school, which means the travel season has begun. Whether you’re off to Rome or cruising to Alaska, summer adventures are memory makers, but that doesn’t mean they’re stress-free. Remembering passports, ticket and hotel reservations, sunscreen, the financial strain of eating out for every meal and the crowds of fellow tourists can make any summer traveler a bit crazy. When you add the stress of incontinence to the mix it’s enough to make anyone prefer to stay home. However, with a little preparation traveling with incontinence can become the least of your worries.
Consider Bladder Training
The National Association For Continence (NAFC) suggests training your bladder several weeks before leaving for a trip. Training your quadriceps may be easier, but muscles also control the bladder so it is possible to get yours in shape.
Create a bathroom diary.To begin the NAFC site recommends keeping a diary that tracks when you urinate, how long you go between bathroom trips, and any relevant diet information.
Schedule bathroom visits. Then use your diary to figure out how often you use the bathroom and add 15 minutes to create a schedule. For instance, if you find you have to go every hour make it a goal to use the bathroom every hour and 15 minutes. It’s important to make time to use the bathroom even if you don’t have to go. After a few days add another 15 minutes. By gradually increasing the time between breaks you train your bladder and your brain to prolong those frequent trips to the bathroom.
Master those Kegels.These exercises are great for strengthening your pelvic floor muscles, which are key to controlling leaks. To find these muscles stop yourself from urinating midstream the next time you go to the bathroom – those are the pelvic floor muscles. You can practice Kegels either lying or sitting down by tightening the muscles and holding for five seconds and then releasing for five seconds. Continue holding and releasing four or five times in a row. Aim for at least three sets of Kegels a day. The exercises found on the Carin app are also a great strengthening option.
While a trained bladder will take you far it’s always best to be prepared. Here are a few tips to consider when planning for your next travel adventure.
Travelling by plane. Book early and reserve a seat on the aisle and near the bathroom. Use the toilet as close to the boarding time as possible and again soon before landing because it may take awhile to get to the gate. Wear dark clothing to disguise possible leaks. Also remember to bring an extra set of clothes in your carry on bag just in case of accidents, and choose an outfit that is easy to remove because those airplane bathrooms are tiny!
Travelling by car. Make sure your travel partners understand your frequent need for stops and look along the route for restrooms. There are many apps and websites to help you. Check out SitOrSquat, which is an app sponsored by Charmin toilet paper and helps users find public restrooms worldwide. Bathroom Scoutis another app that provides the locations for nearly 1.3 million restrooms throughout the world. The NAFC also provides a tool called “Find a bathroom”that includes the above-mentioned apps plus many more.
Packing.Deciding what to bring for any vacation can be stressful, but it’s doubly important for those with incontinence. Carry a plastic sack and change of underwear in case of accidents while travelling. Bed pads and incontinence underwear are a must. Absorbent underwear, such as those offered by Carin, allows the wearer to feel comfortable about leak protection but without the hassle of bulky pads. Be sure to pack extra clothes and book hotels with laundry facilities.
Keep drinking.You may be tempted to reduce bathroom trips by cutting back on liquids. Don’t. Dehydration is a very real danger while traveling. It’s important to drink plenty of water to keep your body hydrated. However, it is recommended to cut back on beverages that are tougher on the bladder such as alcohol, coffee, and soft drinks.
As with most things a little preparation at the beginning goes a long way, especially when it comes to traveling with incontinence. Knowing the locations of the nearest bathroom, getting the aisle seat, and packing plenty of spare clothes helps you to relax. If accidents do occur, focus on staying calm, knowing you are prepared, get through it, and get back to enjoying your summer adventures.