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Going on vacation should be relaxing, but if you have incontinence, worrying about leaks and bathroom breaks can take away from the joy of traveling. If this fear keeps you from flying or taking long car rides, you might even be missing out on the winter getaways and summer beach trips you once enjoyed.
“I have had patients who have stopped flying because they are so scared of not being able to find a bathroom on time,” explained Gazala Siddiqui, MD, an assistant professor and urogynecologist at McGovern Medical School at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston. “I know of patients who have stopped taking long road trips because access to a bathroom can be a big problem.”
To help you have a stress-free vacation, we partnered with Depend to offer five expert tips that will empower you to confidently embark on your next adventure.
1. Plan bathroom breaks
“If you're in a new place or a new situation, you’ll want to plan your next bathroom trip before it becomes an emergency,” Siddiqui said. “So if you know two-and-a-half to three hours is when you go, then maybe go every two hours, so you are not in a situation where you cannot control it.”
You’ll also want to dress for the trip, which can mean wearing a liner or absorbent underwear to add another layer of comfort and protection. Whether it’s a cross-country drive or a trip across town, you can also map out some places to stop along the way. If you feel comfortable with the driver, let them know you may need to make frequent stops to use the restroom.
“Plan ahead so you know where you might be able to stop and find public toilets on your journey,” said Cheryl Gartley, president and founder of the Simon Foundation for Continence, which is a nonprofit organization dedicated to educating the public about incontinence and removing the social stigma around it.
2. Befriend a flight attendant
For those with bladder leakage, air travel can seem intimidating. But with the right planning, you can feel good about hitting the sky. Gartley suggests befriending a flight attendant after boarding the plane.
“Make a special friend of them. Take them aside and say something like, ‘I have a very common bladder problem called incontinence. You probably know a lot of people with this, and I'm hoping that if I have to get up to [use] the washroom, you could help facilitate that,’” Gartley explained.
Gartley recommends looking for someone with a friendly and helpful demeanor, so you’ll feel comfortable informing them if something comes up.
3. Drink beverages wisely
While it might be tempting to indulge in the in-flight beverage options, drinking water is your safest choice if you are worried about leakage.
“Alcohol, caffeine, soda and teas are all bladder irritants,” said Siddiqui. “If you're going on a plane, don't drink three cups of coffee before you go on the flight.”
While Siddiqui said you definitely don’t have to avoid drinking liquids altogether, she does suggest keeping in mind how much you’re consuming based on how easily you can access the bathroom. As anyone who's been on a plane knows, bathroom access can often be hindered by long lines and fasten-seatbelt signs.
“Adequate hydration means about 64 ounces of liquid,” she added. “You really don't need to drink anything more than that for healthy living, especially if you have bladder problems.”
4. Pack accordingly
When getting ready for a trip, it’s important to pack the necessary items you’ll need to manage your incontinence — being prepared for any situation will help put your mind at ease.
“Have some [incontinence products] onboard with you and some in your checked baggage. Don’t keep them all in one place,” said Gartley. “You can ‘upgrade’ your product.” She suggested using a more absorbent product, like adult absorbent underwear, if you might typically wear a liner or pad for protection.
Since your usual routine will likely change while traveling, you may need to consider what products will work best in your new surroundings. Today, there are more options than ever, including swimwear designed for those with incontinence and protective bed covers that make traveling easy.
5. Empower yourself with knowledge
“Understand that it's common, and you're not alone,” Gartley said. “You might actually be educating and helping somebody else who needs to get out of their seat when they're desperate.”
The main thing to remember when traveling with incontinence is to try to enjoy yourself. Finding what works best for you might take time, but that doesn’t mean you should miss out on the joy of traveling.
“I talk to my patients about getting rid of their fears of traveling by telling them tips and information on protective gear,” said Siddiqui, who recommends talking to your doctor about treatment options. “But the whole focus is don't stop going out. Don't be so concerned about it that you stop living your life.”
Nothing should hold you back, whether it’s self-confidence, incontinence or anything else. Depend underwear offers trusted protection, giving you one less thing to worry about and enabling you to take on whatever life throws your way. It’s also made of ultra-soft fabric and comes in a feminine blush color, making it a staple you’ll want to wear every day. For more information or to request a sample, visit depend.com.