8 Traveling Tips for Seniors With Urinary Incontinence

Life doesn’t come to an end when an older person is diagnosed with urinary incontinence. You may be among approximately 50 percent of women and men over the age of 65 who deal with urinary incontinence. If you are among this group of older Americans, you may travel and want to make the most of your adventures. Traveling with urinary incontinence is not an impossibility. There are eight tips you can incorporate into your travel plans that make urinary incontinence manageable when you are on the road:

  • Dress for the trip
  • Pack appropriately
  • Map the route when driving (and when flying)
  • Limit liquid intake when traveling by air
  • Select an aisle seat when flying
  • Discuss medication with your doctor
  • Consider a catheter
  • Get fluent when asking, “where is the restroom?”

Dress for the Trip

There are a number of considerations to bear in mind when dressing for a trip when you need to consider urinary incontinence. You do want to select comfortable clothing that is easy to change if that is necessary. While you may not do this as a matter of routine, you may want to seriously consider wearing some sort of incontinence protection. Depending on the nature of a person’s urinary incontinence condition, wearing a liner, absorbent pad, or disposable brief can be a good plan, particularly for a longer trip. When traveling with urinary incontinence, it is always a good idea to plan for the worst and hope for the best.

Pack Accordingly

When traveling after a diagnosis of urinary incontinence, you do need to pack with that in mind. This packing strategy includes what might be called a “Plan B Bag.”

What this means is that you will want to consider packing a bag to keep handy during travel that contains extra supplies. These should include a change of clothes, extra incontinence products, and a few plastic bags for containing soiled clothing and disposing of used products discretely. This not only helps if an accident occurs but can also be a lifesaver if the airline loses one’s checked baggage.

When it comes to packing main bags, be sure to include plenty of extra incontinence products, especially if it is uncertain whether preferred types or brands will be available for purchase at your travel destination. For overnight stays, include disposable underpads (also known as chux pads) to ensure mattresses and other furniture stay clean and dry.

Map the Route When Driving (And When Flying)

When traveling by car and you have a diagnosis of urinary incontinence, you need to be as thorough as possible in plotting or mapping your route. Thanks to technology like Google Maps, you can be very specific in mapping out a road trip in this day and age.

Identify locations that include highway exits that list rest areas. By being detailed in this manner, plan regular stops for bathroom breaks.

With Google Maps, you can highlight each rest stop along the route, so you know when and where you can go. Be sure to account for pit stops when timing the drive to ensure you arrive at your destination on schedule.

If traveling by plane, get a feel for the layout of the terminals at the airports you will be using. This information is available online. Armed with this knowledge, you can visit the nearest restrooms just before boarding and immediately upon landing. Keeping an eye out for family or companion care facilities can be extremely helpful if a loved one needs a little more time, privacy, or the assistance of another person with his or her incontinence care.

Limit Liquid When Traveling by Air

If you are flying to your travel destination, limit liquids before takeoff and while onboard your flight. Changes in cabin pressure in a plane, as well as tight seat belts, can put extra pressure on the bladder. This particularly is the case if it’s full. Not to mention airplane bathrooms are tiny. In addition, the fasten seatbelt sign is notoriously unpredictable.

If you can’t pass up complimentary in-flight beverages, at least avoid drinks that are diuretics, such as certain sodas, some teas, and coffee. When traveling by air, plain water is the most bladder-friendly option.

Select an Aisle Seat When Flying

An aisle seat is the most convenient option for an individual dealing with urinary incontinence. You can take necessary bathroom breaks as needed without causing fellow passengers to have to move about multiple times. While it may not be pleasant to sit near a lavatory on a flight, it does provide quick and easy access to the facilities and should be considered when selecting a seat. This is much simpler than trying to keep tabs on whether a restroom at either end of the plane is vacant or occupied.

If you book with an airline that doesn’t assign seats, consider paying a bit more for early check-in. This will guarantee a spot at the front of the boarding line and increase the likelihood of getting a that is the most convenient seat.

Discuss Medication with Your Doctor

Prescription medications are available to help with the symptoms of the overactive bladder as well as for urge incontinence. According to urologists, some of these medications can take two to three weeks to reach their full therapeutic effect. Therefore, if you want to discuss medications with your doctor, you need to do so at a suitable time in advance of your scheduled departure date.  

Consider a Catheter

Many different types of catheters may be worth discussing with a doctor prior to taking a trip. Some are only inserted to empty the bladder and then removed, while others can be left in for a few days or weeks. Another noninvasive option for men is a condom catheter that is worn externally.

Consulting with a physician about catheterization options may provide an additional tool for managing incontinence with dignity while away from home. It is important to address this well in advance so that seniors or their caregivers are able to learn how to use this type of device properly and grow comfortable with the new routine.

Get Fluent When Asking, “Where is the Restroom?”

If you will be traveling abroad, it is wise to get to know how to ask where a restroom is located. This ensures that there is no communication issue when the time arrives when you need to use a restroom.

We kick-start the process by offering a few translations of queries relating to the location of a restroom:

  • French: Où sont les toilettes s’il vous plaît? (Where is the toilet, please?)
  • Spanish: Perdóneme ¿Dónde está el baño? (Excuse me, where is the bathroom?)
  • German: Wo ist die Toilette, bitte? (Where is the toilet, please?)
  • Arabic: Ayna Al Hammam? (Where is the bathroom?)

By being proactive, even when you have a diagnosis of urinary incontinence, you can plan for and then enjoy a wonderful trip. You can travel securely with the idea that you have taken all steps possible to protect against a mishap.