NUTRITION CARE

Flying With a Feeding Tube: A User's Guide

Flying With a Feeding Tube A User Guide

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Travel can be a great way to relax, reconnect with friends and family, and explore exciting new places — even if you're traveling with a feeding tube. 

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JUL. 14, 2021   4 MIN. READ
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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:

  • Formula
  • Feeding tubes
  • Syringes
  • Tape
  • Containers or bags
  • A pump if you use one (plus extra batteries and/or a charger)
  • Medications

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:

  • Jet lag making it difficult to stick to your usual feeding schedule. Slowly adjust your body's circadian rhythm to your destination time zone by waking up and feeding an hour earlier (or later) every day, starting about a week before your trip.
  • It's your first visit with family or friends with your feeding tube. It may be easiest to start with an open approach, by explaining what a feeding tube is, how it works and how you're most comfortable feeding. If you'd like to eat with the group, go ahead and say so! However, if you'd prefer to use your feeding tube in the privacy of your room that's OK, too.
  • There's nowhere to prepare blenderized formula. No kitchen? Consider a commercial formula that contains real food ingredients, like PediaSure® Harvest™. Made with five organic fruits and vegetables, this formula provides complete nutrition plus the convenience of a standard formula. So it is perfect for travel.
  • Feeding in public places makes you self-conscious. Many museums, amusement parks and airports have a breastfeeding or quiet room that you can use. Going to a restaurant? Call ahead and ask if there's a private dining room or alcove that you can sneak off to (just don't use the bathroom, which can be filled with germs). Carrying a restaurant card, which you can order through the Oley Foundation, can also help avoid the hassle of trying to explain to the waitstaff why you aren't ordering a meal.
  • Feeling rushed. Tube feeding nutrition can take time and preparation. Let your fellow travelers know in advance that you'll need a little extra time to pack supplies or to clean equipment.
  • Dehydration is a concern. If you're spending hours in the air or traveling somewhere hot, stay hydrated by infusing small amounts of water frequently throughout the day.

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!

What Is A Food Allergy

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Being diagnosed with a food allergy can be scary. It's something you have to be mindful of on a daily basis. Luckily, living a happy and healthy life with a food allergy is absolutely doable with some planning and education.

The first step is understanding the symptoms and triggers of food allergies, as well as how to properly manage an allergic reaction. Here's everything you need to know about living with food allergies. 

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Dehydration Signs in Kids

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Drink eight glasses of water a day! We have all heard that advice time and time again. Hydration is part of what helps your body function properly.

But if you don’t drink enough, you can become dehydrated. Dehydration can cause many issues, including headaches, dizziness, fatigue, fainting, rapid heartbeat, and other symptoms.

So how do you know if you become dehydrated? It’s all in the color. Review this infographic for helpful color cues so you can avoid becoming dehydrated.

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RESOURCES

A guide that will lead you through the experience of tube-fed nutrition for your child.

RELATED PRODUCT

PEDIASURE HARVEST™

For kids ages 1-13, complete nutrition in a real-food formula

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