Whether it's a camping trip, business trip or a cross-country vacation, traveling with a feeding tube doesn't have to hold you back. But it does require a little strategy and creativity.
Like any traveler, you may have to navigate eating at odd hours, informing airport security of your needs, dealing with lost luggage and overcoming a lack of privacy. But for those with a feeding tube, these challenges can take on a whole new meaning.
If you're planning a getaway, here are some valuable insights and actionable advice to help you get the most out of your trip.
9 Ways to Start Planning Early
The sooner you begin to prepare, the smoother your trip can be. These nine pre-travel tips can assist you in planning.
1. Talk to your doctor. Inform your physician about where you intend to travel and the supplies and medications you'll need. If you'll be flying, ask for a letter to share with airport security explaining why you require a feeding tube and the liquids, medications, and equipment you'll be carrying on board. The Oley Foundation provides sample travel letters.
2. Book direct whenever possible. Taking a direct flight to your destination can help you avoid airport delays and long connections that can potentially make feeding difficult.
3. Make a list. Keeping a running list of your essentials can help you remember important supplies like:
4. Find appropriate accommodations. When a person with a feeding tube travels, you may want to opt for hotels that can provide an in-room refrigerator or allow you to use their kitchen refrigerator to store open formula.
5. Consider shipping supplies instead of packing them. Ask your home care company if they can ship supplies to your destination in advance. This can make your luggage lighter, and you won't have to spend precious vacation time trying to track down necessities.
6. Contact the TSA Cares hotline. Reach out to the TSA 72 hours before your flight and let them know that you're traveling with a feeding tube, formula and equipment. While you're at it, consider giving your airline a call so they can help with any special accommodations you might need.
7. Create an emergency plan. Compiling a document with all of your health information, contacts and the name of a local hospital — and sharing it with your travel companions — can help you enjoy peace of mind. Be sure to include the Abbott Live Nutrition Support hotline number for easy access to expert tube feeding support away from home.
8. Pack a carry-on bag with essentials. While it can help to ship supplies to your destination, it's wise to pack at least two days' worth of tube feeding supplies in the event your luggage gets lost. You may also want to stash extra supplies in your checked luggage, just in case something breaks or leaks, or you're delayed.
9. Allow for lots of extra time. Building excess time into your schedule can help reduce worry and stress, especially if you'll be flying. For instance, airport security may need additional time to examine your equipment, supplies and feeding device.
Here is a great video from the Empowering Eleanor YouTube channel on what Mom, Christy, packed on a recent flight on a family vacation. Her daughter Eleanor has Chung Jansen Syndrome and requires a feeding tube.
Knowing What to Expect
Traveling to a new place can mean lots of changes to your daily routine, so try to be flexible — and patient! Having a plan for troubleshooting can help you tackle common tube feeding travel issues, such as:
Travel can be a challenge for people who have a feeding tube. But with time and experience, it's likely to become second nature. If this is your first time, ask your healthcare provider to put you in touch with others who have traveled with a feeding tube. Their tips and tricks may inspire you, and you might even make a new friend in the process!
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Preparing for Virus Season
It is the season for viruses like Influenza and RSV, and COVID-19 cases continue to rise in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control the Delta variant causes more COVID-19 infections and spreads faster than earlier forms of the virus. Additionally, other respiratory viruses like Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) are also causing illness in children and adults. And flu season will be right around the corner. While influenza viruses circulate year-round, most of the flu activity comes in December through February according to the CDC.