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8 Travel Tips for Your Overactive Bladder

Whether you call it an overactive or spastic bladder, urge incontinence can cause a lot of problems during your everyday life. That strong need to urinate will come on suddenly and it’s all you can do to find a nearby bathroom as fast as possible. So what should someone with an overactive bladder (OAB) do while traveling?

Overactive bladder symptoms disrupt woman's work day

Traveling with OAB symptoms can be very uncomfortable

We’ll be honest, travel will pose a whole new set of problems for people with OAB symptoms. Many patients develop anxiety over those cramped spaces in airplanes or having to count each terrible second weighting to reach the next rest stop on the road. It is enough to keep anyone from wanting to traveling, but you shouldn’t let your spastic bladder stop you from having a great vacation.

Accidents are a part of life if you’re living with OAB, but we’ve found several doctor-approved ways you can “accident-proof” your travel plans this year!

1) Pick Your Seat Wisely

Are you going to be flying the next time you travel? If you can order your tickets ahead of time, you should be able to pick the seat you want on your flight. The views from the window seat may dazzle, but we recommend getting an aisle seat if possible. This way you won’t be disturbing anyone when you need to visit the restroom.

Picking a seat close to the bathroom

Don’t wait to the last moment to pick your seat.

Additionally, you should be able to see where the bathrooms are located on the plane while picking your desired seat. We recommend picking an aisle seat closer to the bathrooms. FYI – it’s a good idea to empty your bladder prior to boarding and once before landing.

2) Bring Extra Supplies with You

Are you traveling to a place you’ve never been to before? You’ll want to bring extra supplies with you. Bring some things like extra undergarments and plastic zipper bags. If an accident does occur while you’re traveling, you can feel a lot more secure knowing you’ve brought your incontinence supplies in a backpack or shoulder bag.

3) Consider the Overactive Bladder Medication You’ll Need on the Road

Before leaving on your trip, we recommend that schedule an appointment with your doctor. Take this moment to ask them about the treatments you might need for traveling with a spastic bladder. They may recommend anticholinergic medications (if you aren’t already taking them), since they’ll reduce your urge to urinate.

However, we do want you to know that these drugs can produce side effects like constipation and dry mouth. Many OAB patients discontinue their usage after a short time. If you can tolerate anticholinergics, traveling is a really good time to take them. Just be sure to try them before you’re on the road to be sure.

4) Make Sure Your Accommodations will Cater to Your Needs

Does your hotel offer a laundry machine? It’s not always a given with some hotel chains. A laundry machine can make your life a lot simpler, especially if you’re planning an extended stay. You should also request some extra bed sheets in case there are any accidents at night.

5) Practice the Squeeze Technique

Even the best planners may face some uncomfortable moments during the trip. If you find yourself worried about getting to the bathroom in time, there is a valuable technique you can use to temporarily hold back the flow– we call it the “squeeze technique.”

Here’s what you’ll need to do:

  • Stop what you’re doing and focus
  • Don’t move you’re body
  • Concentrate on contracting your pubic muscles
  • Picture your urge slowly ebbing away
  • You’ll start to feel it subsiding after 10 to 15 seconds
  • Make your way to the bathroom

6) Purchase Incontinence Pads

Female patients with overactive bladders may want to bring incontinence pads while traveling. These can really be effective if your symptoms include occasional leakage. You may or may not require them during the trip, but an emergency stash can make a great addition to the OAB travel supplies you’ve brought.

If your symptoms are more severe than the occasional leakage, you can find adult pull-ups at your local surgical supply store.

7) Plan Ahead and Skip the Lines

Rushing around in the airport or train station while needing to pee can be extremely uncomfortable. It’s important to plan ahead when traveling and give yourself the needed time to make trips to the bathroom when necessary. You can also schedule flights for non-peak times and thus skip the longer lines.

8) Don’t Forget Your Public Bathroom Pee Kit

Let’s be honest, public bathrooms are rarely the pristine environments that we wished they would be. But when you gotta go, you gotta go. Don’t get caught in desperate situation where the stall you chose has no toilet paper left. We suggest packing a “travel toiletry kit.”

OAB patient prepares to use the public bathroom in the airport

Don’t forget the public bathroom travel kit!

Here’s what you should include in your kit:

  • Sanitary wipes
  • Travel-size package of tissues
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Travel soap
  • Paper to cover the seat

FYI– Avoid the squat position. OAB clinical trials have shown that this makes it harder for you to completely empty your bowels. Not only does this mean you’ll be feeling the urge again sooner, but it also raises your risk of bladder infection.

Conclusion

Remember that accidents can happen. If this happens to you, try and stay calm. It’s not the end of the world and the anxiety over this possibility should not keep you from enjoying a great vacation. If you have well informed travel companions, then you can work together to make this travel experience fun and memorable.

Do you have any other suggestions from your own travels and experiences? Let us know in the comments below.

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