If you’re new to using catheters, the idea of traveling (especially by plane) can be overwhelming. Preparing and packing your supplies, passing airport security, basing your schedule on public bathrooms – it’s no wonder many catheter users choose to stay home!
However, using a catheter doesn’t have to mean canceling your trip. A few pre-trip preparations can help you make the most of your time away and guarantee a smooth, stress-free travel experience.
Pack plenty of extras.
Consider how many catheters you’ll need for the duration of your trip – and then pack a few more. Lost bags and trip delays happen, and you don’t want to be caught unprepared on your adventure. Don’t forget extra wipes and hand sanitizer, too!
Pack supplies in each bag or suitcase.
Don’t put all your eggs – or catheters – in one basket. Instead, pack catheter kits in your carry-on bag as well as your checked luggage. This will keep you stocked and ready should one of your bags get lost or misplaced.
Pick the right products.
Some catheters are more travel-friendly than others and can help you make the most of your trip. Closed system catheters are a top choice for travelers because they reduce the risk of infection and cut down your needed supplies. Pre-lubricated catheters can also help you avoid the TSA travel restrictions on liquids and can provide safe, comfortable catheterization even if the water quality at your destination is poor.
Prepare to pass security.
First, you should contact the airline at least 72 hours before your trip to alert them to your condition and ask if they have any special procedures for traveling with catheters. You may also request a travel certificate from your medical provider that explains your need for medical supplies in case security stops you with questions or concerns.
Take note of TSA requirements.
Medical supplies are exempt from the TSA 3-1-1 rule, but packing appropriately can make it easier to get to your gate. If possible, divide your lubricant and other liquids into 3.4 ounces (or less) and place them into one clear, resealable plastic bag.
Empty your bladder before you board.
If you’ll be taking a longer flight, it’s a good idea to empty your bladder before you board. Runway delays or turbulence may lead to extra time before you can access the airplane bathroom.
You may be tempted to cut back on your liquid consumption, but a bladder infection will cause more discomfort than a few extra trips to the bathroom. Follow good hygiene practices and always stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water.