Today’s post is all about traveling with crohn’s disease, IBD and IBS. I want to post about something personal to me: my battle with Crohn’s disease. Since my diagnosis, I had many many questions (one being of course, how did this go undiagnosed for 12 years?! Crazy!) but mainly they all came down to one thing: Can I lead a normal life?
My idea of a ‘normal life’ had and still continues to change since living abroad and indeed since diagnosis. I wanted to know if I could stay in China, a developing country that is only just beginning to understand this disease. I wanted to know if I could still teach and do a job that (on the whole) I love. But most of all I wanted to know if it is still possible enjoy traveling with crohn’s disease, IBD and IBS- and enjoy all the wonderful trips we had planned for the summer!
In the past, traveling has been kind of a double edged sword for me: On the one hand, much like my mother- I love holidays! And not just the holiday itself: The planning, writing the itinerary I never use, Shopping for outfits I forget all about once the holiday is over….
However, at the same time my digestive issues (which had previously been deemed ‘IBS’) has always put a damper on things, with me finding it difficult knowing what to eat, the risk of picking up bugs from street food and generally feeling a bit meh. The holiday I took to Thailand in February is the first holiday in which I felt completely well and as a result was probably one of the best holidays of my life. Here’s hoping the trips I take this summer rival that trip!
So today I just wanted to share some tips that work for me while traveling abroad with crohn’s. It is also relevant for anyone thinking of traveling with crohn’s, IBD and IBS (which although very different to crohn’s, can still stop people from venturing too far from home) I hope they help and show that it is very possible to see the world while battling with your disobedient immune system or any other kind of digestive discomfort.
TIP 1:Bring your own food
Although a pain, I do find it easier to bring some of your own foods if travelling to somewhere that is less developed. These are the things I usually pack…
– Mini cartons of soy or rice milk (Make breakfast really easy, just add to some cereal or granola- if you are okay with wheat)
-Quick snacks:Such as granola bars (I love Nature’s Valley) rice crackers, pretzels, apple sauce, bananas, a little nut butter (These are all great if you are at somewhere like the a train station/airport which only stocks fast food items. All of these items will give you an energy boost without being too high in fibre or fat. It isn’t perfect but it tides you over until you can find somewhere healthier to eat. Whenever I take a trip in China I pack a lunchbox of all these things.)
– A juicer. If like me, you can’t live without juicing there a plenty of mini juicers (or bullets for smoothies) you can buy. If staying in an apartment for a long period of time, try to negotiate with the owner. My amazing mother has just got the owner of our villa in Bali to install a juicer. So I immediately know I can have a fresh healthy juice.
TIP 2: Email the hotel in advance.
Hotels can be really helpful if you put yourself out there. I used to find it really awkward asking for things but at the end of the day, you are paying for a service. I often emailed the hotel to ask about the following things…
–Is there a fridge? (Useful for storing supplements and whatever foodie bits you are bringing)
– Is there a bath or just a shower? If you suffer from complications of Crohn’s like abscesses or fistulas then you’ll need a bath but then again even if not, who doesn’t like a good soak in the tub?
-What are breakfast options? Is it possible to have things made to order like a poached egg white for breakfast? Or soya milk? If places don’t provide these things they are usually very helpful and offer to source it for you or offer to store the stuff for you if you bring it with you.
That’s the end of the first part of my guide to traveling abroad with crohn’s. Next time I’ll blog about what to do should you fall ill abroad and my multiple experiences of the Chinese hospital system.
If you have any tips on traveling with crohn’s, or any kind of health condition I’d love to here them! Please comment in the box below and I’ll try to add them to my next post: Traveling with Crohn’s, IBD and IBS: Part 2