Road trip! Those words shouldn’t cause anxiety, worry or fear in anyone, but many incontinence sufferers feel exactly those emotions when they hear them. Because passenger cars — while they might come loaded with the latest accessories and coolest gizmos — lack that one essential utility that would set one’s mind at ease for the long-haul: a bathroom!
Fortunately, there are things that you can do to make your road trip more comfortable for yourself or a loved one suffering from incontinence. Here are 5 tips that will help make your upcoming road odyssey enjoyable, comfortable and trouble free:
- Map your rest stops. If you’re travelling on the Interstate Highway System for the bulk of your road trip, you can be assured that modern, well-equipped rest areas will appear along the way – approximately every half hour or so of travel. Check AppSpot.com to locate the rest areas along your route. IPhone users can also install USA Rest Stops, an app that lists rest areas on the Interstate System, plus U.S. and State highways. SitOrSquat.com – a website provided by the Charmin toilet paper company, also provides a searchable list of public restrooms in the U.S. (it’s also available as an app for the iPhone and for Android). One word of caution: Interstate rest stops aren’t always open, due to federal budget constraints and/or scheduled maintenance, so you may need to resort to using a bathroom in one of the innumerable fast-food restaurants along the highway instead.
- Plan your packing. Smart packing is key to a successful road trip for those suffering from incontinence. You’ll want to pack a “dry bag” of supplies, including protective underwear, underpads/chair pads (to protect car seats), absorbent tissue, ointments/creams, odor-eliminating deodorant, plus a small bottle of detergent to launder reusable undergarments); and a “wet bag” to accommodate used clothing after it’s been changed out. (Make sure the wet bag doesn’t actually become “wet” by using one or more plastic bags to line the interior.) Don’t wait until the night before your trip to begin the packing process; start early enough so that you can order and take delivery of any supplies that you’re missing: these might be hard to locate once you’re underway.
- Dress accordingly. Dress for comfort when you’re traveling, using layers if your trip takes you to a differing climate or if the weather changes frequently (e.g. New England). Clothing should be loose-fitting and comfortable, and dark hues are better choices for incontinence sufferers than light ones because they’ll better conceal any unanticipated leakage.
- Watch your intake of solids and fluids. Avoid ingesting – before or during your road trip — anything likely to exacerbate incontinence issues, including spicy foods, foods with a lot of citrus and chocolate. Avoid drinking beverages containing alcohol or caffeine: these are “diuretics” that will increase urine production, thus necessitating an eventual stop. At the same time, however, it’s important not to become dehydrated, because this will cause one’s urine to become concentrated, which irritates the bladder. Fill several plastic bottles with filtered water, add them to your “dry” travel bag, and keep them in a place that’s easy to reach while on the road.
- Keep a lid on in-car stress. Some people find driving a uniquely relaxing activity; while others (especially those in urban areas where roads are packed with gigantic, zig-zagging trucks) clearly don’t. Either way, anything you can do to “keep the lid” on stress in the car will reduce the chances of discomfort, accidents or bad feelings. Perhaps, the biggest single thing you can do to clamp down on in-car stress is to start your road trip early – with plenty of “buffer time” available to handle any unexpected stops, diversions or other events that might crop up along the way. By getting a jump on the day, you’ll be in great shape to enjoy the wonders of the Great American Road Trip.