11 Travel Tips for People Who Use Catheters

March 08,2022 |
Man and woman packing a suitcase.

Traveling is an exciting way to experience new things, connect with friends and family across the world, and get out of your comfort zone. There are millions of destinations waiting to be explored, but many people who utilize intermittent self-catheterization are nervous to go anywhere far from home. However, just because you rely on a catheter doesn’t mean you can’t experience life. You can carry your catheters with you wherever you go. To help you feel more confident about your journey, here are 11 travel tips for people who use catheters.


Different Types of Catheters

Before going on a trip, take the time to research all the different types of catheters available. While you might use one type while you’re at home, branching out to use other, more accessible catheters while traveling can simplify the process.

Straight tip catheters are made from a variety of materials like silicone, latex, and rubber. They are straight from one end to the other. Coudé catheters, on the other hand, have a slightly curved tip to help overcome obstructions and make insertion easier. Red rubber catheters are a great option as they’re flexible enough to roll up and keep in compact areas. Hydrophilic catheters allow for easy insertion on the go as they come pre-lubricated in compact packaging.

Closed system catheters are also a great option to use when traveling, as they’re considered an all-in-one system. Talk to your doctor about how to choose the best catheter and consider trying a few before your trip to see which one you like best.

Foley catheters, on the other hand, have a drainage bag that’s attached. Once you insert them, they’re left in place for a certain period of time to allow your bladder to continually empty as needed. Foley catheters are also called indwelling catheters and are often not recommended for traveling.


How to Travel with a Catheter

Just because you’re using a catheter doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy your life. You can still do everything that you’d normally do, it just requires a little extra preparation. Through the use of intermittent self-catheterization, you can enjoy the freedom to go where you want, whenever you want. To make this process easier and boost your confidence while you’re on the road, here are some great tips for using a catheter during your trip.


  1. Bring Extra Supplies

    Regardless of if you’re going to a neighboring state or halfway around the world, you’ll want to ensure that you have all of the supplies you need for the duration of your trip. You should be able to find extra supplies for emergencies—as urologic conditions affect millions of people around the world—but knowing you have everything you need will bring you some peace of mind.

    Begin this process by taking a few days to record your supply usage. Based on your current needs and prescriptions, write down everything you use in a day. Do this for a few days to get an average. Multiply the supplies you use by the time you’ll be gone. For example, if you go through five catheters per day and will be gone for 10 days, you’ll need a minimum of 50 catheters. Once you have this number, add extra just in case your habits change while you’re away. It’s better to have extra rather than run out.


  2. Always Use Your Carry-On

    When you pack your supplies, always keep a decent amount in your carry-on baggage. If you experience travel delays, lost baggage, or any type of emergency that could separate you from your checked luggage, you’ll need accessible options. By placing enough supplies in your carry-on bag or your purse, you’ll reduce anxiety about running out if things don’t go exactly as planned. Keep enough supplies to cover your needs for a few days and pack the remainder in your checked luggage.


  3. Ship Supplies if Necessary

    When traveling within the United States, you can use the same medical supply company to ship your order wherever you’re staying. If you’re going away for an extended vacation or plan to split your time between two states throughout the year, ask about having your supplies shipped out to your destination. This can save you a lot of room in your suitcase, especially if you’re going to be gone for longer than a month. Byram Healthcare ships catheter supplies nationwide with delivery times between one and five business days, depending on the location.


  4. Consider an Attachable Drainage Bag

    To make things easier for individuals with mobility issues or pediatric catheterization, consider using an attachable drainage bag. This allows you to self-catheterize anywhere, collect the urine in an attached bag, and then dispose of it in the appropriate waste bin.


  5. Ensure Access to Sterile Water

    While you’ll likely have access to sterile water anywhere you go within the United States, traveling abroad can present different challenges. Some countries have poor water quality, which can make hygiene difficult. Ensure that you have access to sterile water by carrying water bottles or using enclosed kits that have sterile water included. In emergency situations, boil water and let it cool before using.


  6. Try Discreet Options

    There are several different types of catheters available for you to choose from. Some require more steps than others, but there are also plenty of options for discreet, easy-to-use catheters on the go. Pocket catheters are smaller in size and take up less space. They’re great options to use on your travel days, so you don’t have to carry a large kit into the restroom with you. This helps respect your privacy and give you the confidence you need when you’re performing self-catheterization in a public restroom.


  7. Carry a Medical ID

    When you’re traveling to new places, it can be scary to think about emergencies. You’re far away from your doctor and aren’t sure what kind of resources there are available. As an added layer of protection, consider carrying a medical ID while on vacation. This information can include your name, date of birth, allergies, emergency contacts, physician information, and medical procedures needed if anything were to happen. While it’s unlikely that you’ll need to use this, being prepared for the worst can help you fully enjoy your trip.


  8. Familiarize Yourself with TSA Regulations

    Going through security at the airport doesn’t have to be stressful when you travel with a catheter. Take the time to familiarize yourself with the regulations in advance and obtain your travel certificates. Doing this can help you reduce problems when you’re going through security. For example, you’ll need to adhere to the liquid guidelines, which still apply to sterile water and bladder irrigation needed for self-catheterization. You may also want to alert the TSA officer of your condition before going through security so that discretion is taken if your luggage needs to be searched. Other than that, carrying on catheterization supplies rarely causes an issue.


  9. Prioritize Cleanliness and Sanitation

    The importance of hand hygiene during clean intermittent self-catheterization should remain regardless of where you’re traveling. The risk for infection is still present, and nothing will ruin your vacation more than having to find a doctor and undergo treatment. The process of self-catheterization can be a learning curve, but always wash your hands thoroughly and use hand sanitizer prior to insertion. To make things easier and reduce your risk of infection, consider using a hydrophilic catheter or a closed-system catheter.


  10. Bring Your Own Trash Bags

    Discreetly using a catheter in a public restroom can be difficult, especially if there are no trash bins available. Instead, carry your own bags to make disposal easier. You can use bags specifically made for catheterization supply disposal or simply bring a pack of Ziplocs or brown paper bags with you. You don’t have to use anything fancy, just something that allows you to carry out your waste easily.


  11. Know Where the Bathrooms Are

When you’re going out in public, take a few minutes to familiarize yourself with the location of the bathrooms. This will help you avoid stressful situations if you find you need to go. Try to stick to your regular catheterization schedule and empty your bladder as needed.

While traveling with a catheter does bring up some unique challenges, it’s still 100% possible. Regardless of your situation, always try to focus on the good parts of traveling. Traveling with a catheter can be inconvenient, but you can still enjoy the same activities as before. To make sure your trip goes seamlessly, stock up on supplies from Byram Healthcare before your trip. Our extensive product guide gives you access to a wide variety of catheters to best fit your lifestyle and travel plans. For questions about our products, contact a representative today. Otherwise, get started on your order and enjoy discreet delivery directly to your doorstep.