I’ve never been one of those moms who can fly by the seat of her pants and wing it. Especially when traveling. A mother of 3 kids, I have to be prepared – always. My 3 year old has an accident? I’ve got it covered with an extra change of clothes. My 5 year old decides to throw a tantrum mid-flight? The iPad is completely stocked with games and movies to calm him down. My 6 month old begins wailing? I’m like a ninja with her bottle – from bag to lips in two seconds flat. Friends and family are often amazed at my level of preparedness – I’m a master, and I wear the badge proudly.
When I developed Overactive Bladder (OAB) after the birth of my second child, my philosophy was no different. I plan and prepare for the unexpected for myself, just as I would my children. As the holidays approach I’m looking forward to a trip back home to see my family. Our whole kit and caboodle are going to be coming along for the ride and you can bet that a little OAB is not going to stop me from having a fabulous time.
So, in case anyone else may be suffering from OAB or incontinence, here are my top 7 tips to help you make it to your destination with ease.
1. Plan ahead and know your route.
If you are driving to your location, you have the advantage of being able to stop relatively easily. Plan your route ahead of time and determine rest stops to make regular bathroom breaks. This will help you avoid waiting too long to relieve yourself, which could result in an accident.
If you’re flying, try to book your seat on the isle if possible, and as close to the restroom as you can. This will ensure you have easy access in the event you need to get to a restroom quickly.
2. Leave enough time for extra stops.
Be sure to leave early, and plan to make at least a few extra stops. Whether you are traveling by car, or flying, it pays to have some time built in for emergencies.
3. Bring along an extra change of clothes.
In the event you do have an accident, having an extra pair of clothes handy will save you from embarrassment, and discomfort for the rest of your trip. I know, I know – we moms already have enough to pack with all our kids stuff. But trust me when I say you don’t want to be dealing with a screaming toddler and wet pants for the second half of your flight. If you are flying, be sure to pack these in your carryon so you have them with you at all times. It’s also a good idea to bring along an extra ziplock bag for any soiled clothing. Additionally, hand wipes and an antibacterial cleansing product will keep you feeling clean and fresh.
4. Remember all your supplies.
This list will vary depending on what you normally use and how severe your incontinence is. But, it’s always a good idea to carry along a few extra disposable pads or underwear. (And if you’re flying, wearing a pad “just in case”, even if you normally don’t wear one, can be a life-saver as well.) Pack some of these in your carryon too, in the event that your luggage gets lost, or you experience delays at the gate. Also think about what you will need when you arrive at your destination. Depending on your accommodations, bed protection, deodorized liners for disposal of products, sanitizing or cleansing products and lotions may also be useful.
5. Limit liquids a few hours before your trip.
While it’s never a good idea to completely avoid liquids, limiting them a couple of hours before you depart may help you get through the first leg of your trip a bit easier. It’s also a good idea to pass on the beverage cart if you’re flying, in order to avoid having to make an extra trip (or 2!) to the restroom.
6. Look into medications to manage your bladder.
If you feel that absorbent products alone are not enough to keep you from having an accident while traveling, you may want to ask your doctor about any potential medications that he or she may recommend. Be sure to do this well in advance of your trip, since some medications, like those indicated for overactive bladder, can take anywhere from 2 to 4 weeks to become effective.
7. Request a note from your doctor with a list of any approved medication or special instructions that may be useful to you when flying.
Flying with medications can be made easier if you have a note from your doctor. Additionally, if you have any special medical conditions, a doctor’s note with special instructions may help you when asking for special requests (like preferred seating on planes, priority boarding, etc.).
I can’t wait to spend the holidays with my family this year. And, though my OAB may present a little extra challenge, I know that with the above plan I’ll be sailing through the airport effortlessly. Well, as effortlessly as you can with three kids. And a husband. So, four kids really.