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Self-Catheterizing “On the Go”

If you’re planning a trip, the thought of maintaining an intermittent self-catheterization (ISC) routine while traveling may feel overwhelming. We’ve compiled some tips on how to manage your ISC supplies, transportation, meals, and even a visit to the beach or pool.

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Get tips that can make ISC while traveling easier.

Whether you’re going across town or across the country, the good news is that self-catheterization can give you the freedom to travel without anxiety about emptying your bladder. Below are some tips to help you get organized beforehand, and then stick to a catheterization routine when you’re on the go.

Advance Planning

  • Lay out your travel schedule in detail. Think through each day’s events and have a plan for how you can fit in your self-catheterization sessions. Longer trips often have unexpected delays and surprises, so try to be as flexible as possible and don’t let them ruin your day.
  • For each location you plan to visit, determine in advance what restroom facilities they offer and keep your well-packed “catheterization kit” with you (see details below).

Proactive Packing
Travel means you need to pack smart. Make a list of what you need to bring, pack everything efficiently, and keep all of your catheter supplies in a separate bag for convenience. Your “catheterization kit” should include:

  • Intermittent catheters – Pack as many as you think you’ll need and then add a few extras. Consider bringing discrete, compact, ready-to-use catheters such as the Infyna Chic™ intermittent catheter or the VaPro Plus Pocket™ intermittent catheter.
  • Disposable non-alcohol wipes – These are used to clean your urethral opening before catheterizing. Always check with your healthcare provider for their recommendations. Again, pack more than you think you’ll need.
  • Hand sanitizer gel or wipes – It’s important to have clean hands when self-catheterizing. Since not all tap water and hand washing facilities are clean, have hand sanitizer along just in case.
  • Small hand-held mirror – For women, using a mirror can make it easier to find your urethra, so you can insert the catheter.

Along with your “catheterization kit,” bring an extra change of clothes and underwear, and a plastic bag for soiled clothes – just in case an accident happens.

Transportation

  • For road trips, map out rest areas, restaurants, or gas stations along the way. Apps like Along the Way, SitorSquat, and USA Rest Stops can be helpful.
  • On a bus, train, or airplane, reserve an aisle seat near a bathroom, or see if you can get priority boarding to choose that type of seat. And be sure to arrive at the airport or station early enough to self-catheterize before boarding.
  • On flights, do not put your “catheterization kit” in your checked luggage. Take it as a carry-on bag or put it in a larger carry-on bag. The kit might not count toward your carry-on bag allotment so check with the airline beforehand. And be sure to print and fill out a Notification Card to show the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) agents. Keep a copy of this card with your other identification (i.e., driver’s license, passport, etc.). For more information visit the “Disabilities and Medical Conditions” page on the TSA website.

Diet Considerations

  • While traveling, limit consumption of alcohol, caffeine, carbonated drinks, spicy foods, chocolate, and acidic foods like tomatoes. These can irritate your bladder and send you to the bathroom more often.

Down by the Sea (or Pool)

  • Be aware that most catheters need to stay between 59℉/15℃ and 86℉/30℃ – so if you’re going to be in extreme weather, make sure you have what you need to keep your catheters at the optimal temperature. A thermal bag is one way to ensure that they don’t get too hot or too cold.