Globe trotting with IBD

The thought of being stuck in a car or plane for long periods of time may be a little daunting for those with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Add to that a foreign place with unfamiliar food, it may seem like a recipe for disaster. However, with a little bit of forward planning, you can be off on your next expedition; whether it’s driving to another city or flying to the other side of the world.

Before you go

Globe trotting with IBD


Ensure you have packed enough medication to last you for the entire trip, especially if you are travelling abroad. Filling a prescription overseas can be complicated. It’s a good idea to take a copy of your prescription with you, just in case. Make sure the name on the prescription matches the name on your boarding pass. Ask your doctor for a letter with your medical history and the medications you are taking, and keep a copy of it with you at all times.

Contact the airline

It is a good idea to carry your medications and doctor’s letter in your carry-on bag, in case of lost baggage. Check with the airline in advance about their rules for carrying medications in your hand luggage. If your medication needs to be refrigerated, obtain a small cooler bag from a pharmacy to store it. To make your journey as smooth as possible, request an aisle seat near the bathroom when making reservations and check if the airline can accommodate your dietary needs.


When travelling to new places, it is important to ensure your vaccinations are up to date. Always speak to your doctor at least 4–6 weeks 1Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Advising Travelers with Specific Needs. Available from: [accessed June 2017]. prior to your planned departure so that any vaccinations you need have enough time to take effect.

Travel insurance

Be sure to check if your travel policy covers IBD-related problems. Unfortunately, many insurance policies exclude pre-existing illnesses and will likely refuse claims. Check that your travel policy offers full cover before you leave.

At the airport

At the airport with IBD

Security checks

With heightened security on planes, you need to be ready to show all your medications during security checks. A letter from your doctor detailing your condition and medications will help to make this process as smooth as possible.

Once you are there

Once you are there with IBD

Getting around

Find out in advance whether the buses and trains you are using have toilets. Check to see if there are any local guides or apps to help you.

Be careful what you eat

Food is usually a big part of any adventure. However, pay attention to what you eat. Avoid sushi, raw vegetables (including salads), ice cream and ice lollies. Keep some snacks and simple foods on you, in case the local food doesn’t agree with you. Be extra careful with drinking water and always use bottled water, even for brushing. Avoid drinks with ice cubes unless the ice has been prepared using bottled water.

Finally, keep in mind that it’s difficult to plan for every eventuality. However, if you do your homework, there is no reason why you can’t have an amazing holiday.


1Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Advising Travelers with Specific Needs. Available from: [accessed June 2017].