Checklist for Traveling with Urinary Incontinence
Traveling with urinary incontinence—let’s talk about it. In this article, you’ll find guidance on how to plan, pack, and travel well despite those nuisance leaks and urges.
First, though, let’s run through a quick example you might find familiar:
You’re on the road (or in the air), but luck’s not on your side.
Either there’s no bathroom in sight, or it’s out of action. “Not again,” you think, “I’m only able to hold on for another minute max.”
If you’ve been here before, you’ll know it’s a nightmare situation you don’t want to find yourself in again.
So how can you make traveling with urinary incontinence easier and more manageable? And what are the options for managing urinary incontinence when you’re away from home?
Get tips and our checklist to help manage traveling with urinary incontinence better.
Here’s a preview of what we’ll discuss:
Step 1: Planning
Step 2: Packing for urinary incontinence
Step 3: Traveling
How to manage urinary incontinence and frequent urination while traveling
Step 1: Planning
Map your route—Have you tried toilet-finding apps?
“I have to pee really badly, but there’s no bathroom.”
When you’re in an unfamiliar location, trying to find toilets can range from mildly frustrating to an emergency situation. As Dr. Pastuszak, assistant professor of Urology at Baylor, tells us:
“An overactive bladder can cause discomfort any day, but it can become unbearable when traveling. A little planning and preparation can make all the difference.”
Traveling by public transport? The best place to start is to research which stations, stops, and terminals have public bathrooms.
And if you’re going by car? Make sure to map out locations where you’ll be able to exit busy highways for a “rest break.”
Most people pee every 2-4 hours, but if you need to urinate frequently while traveling, then plan for more regular stops.
Aside from Google Maps, there are also some useful toilet-finding apps to choose from.
Train your bladder—How long can you hold your pee before you lose bladder control?
A healthy adult bladder should hold as much as 16 ounces of urine. But what if you’re one of the many people who aren’t blessed with a bladder of steel? Is there anything you can do to strengthen your bladder for long journeys?
Well, good news. Because, yes, there is.
Although bladder training doesn’t always fix the issue, committing to it in the run-up to a trip is certainly worth a shot. If the training can extend the time between bathroom visits by even another 5-10 minutes, this could be the difference between wetting yourself or holding on until you reach an appropriate location.
Here’s the process to follow:
Keep track of the times you urinate for 3-7 days. Ideally, note how much liquid you’ve had each day and how much urine is produced (using a urine collector) each time you pee.
Review your journal. How long can you hold your urine before you lose bladder control? Does the output seem right compared with the amount of liquid consumed? If you urinate more frequently than every two hours, you may be able to train your bladder to hold on for longer.
It’s scheduling time! Use the bathroom when you wake up, but try to go every 2-3 hours after this. Don’t worry if you can’t hold on as long as that. Just aim to space out the times a little longer than you would normally.
Remember to empty your bladder fully. A lot of people rush when they’re in the bathroom. Either they’re on-the-go or they view needing to pee as an inconvenience (which, let’s face it, it can be). Still, be mindful to wait until it feels like every drop’s out before you zip up.
Ever go to the bathroom “just in case,” even when you don’t need it? Try to avoid this safety net—unnecessary trips may train your bladder in the wrong way.
Practice pelvic floor exercises, such as Kegel exercises. To do this, concentrate on the muscles you clench when you need to “go” and contract for 5-10 seconds at a time. Perform five repetitions (several times a day) to strengthen the muscles that will help you hold for longer.
Struck by the urge to pee? Take a few deep breaths and try to distract yourself. Aim to wait five minutes or more before you use the bathroom. As time goes on, you may be able to increase this to 10-20 minutes (or more).
Continue the habit of writing in your bathroom diary. Who knows, the diary might feel like a trusted friend by now! Hopefully, you’ll be able to look back in a few weeks or months, celebrate progress, and carry on tweaking your bathroom visit times as you see fit.
Learn the foreign language basics—Do you know how to ask for the toilet?
Not only is learning the basics of a foreign language when you’re abroad considered courteous, but it’s also going to work to your advantage. Knowing how to ask for the nearest facilities could save you a lot of wasted (and precious) toilet-finding time.
Here’s how to say “Where is the toilet?” in some of the most common languages:
Spanish: ¿Dónde están los aseos?
French: Où sont les toilettes?
Italian: Dov’è la toilette?
German: Wo ist die Toilette?
Japanese: 便所はどこですか (benjo wa doko desu ka?)
Step 2: Packing for urinary incontinence
Pack smart—Will you have enough supplies to manage urinary incontinence?
Ever left packing for a trip to the last minute? We’ve all been there. But if you deal with urinary incontinence—or need to manage frequent urination while traveling—then having the right supplies is crucial.
When you’re putting your luggage together, ensure you’ve got enough spares. Underwear, pants—all of the essentials. A bundle of plastic bags or bin liners is also a sensible addition to secure any wet clothing.
Travel incontinence products—Do you have a “rescue kit” in place?
You may be relieved to know that travel incontinence products are available for light, moderate, and heavy urinary incontinence. This can be reassuring for those who have either:
A history of accidental urinary leaks/voids, or
Experience frequent urination while traveling and want peace of mind
Travel incontinence products for light leaks
Light-Moderate Absorbency Pads For Women
TENA® Liners for very light absorbency needs, such as losing a few drops of urine while laughing, coughing, sneezing, or straining.
Includes Advanced Odor Protection and a specific design to ensure a great fit following the body’s natural contours. They have a soft, cloth-like top layer for extra comfort.
TENA Intimates™ Moderate Long Incontinence Pads are now 100% breathable to protect sensitive, intimate skin when experiencing bladder leakage.
ProSkin™ Technology includes a soft top layer and 3D technology to quickly wick fluid away. The pads are designed with triple protection against bladder leaks, odor, and wetness for occasional moderate urine leakage.
Light-Moderate Absorbency Guards For Men
Attends Male Guards are worn within regular underwear or a diaper/protective underwear, and are designed for light incontinence. For reference, the average adult releases 8-12 fl ounces (1-1 ½ cups) when they “go”.
This is a form-fitting guard for leakage or dribbles as a result of surgeries or light incontinence. The guard has a cloth-like outer cover and is soft and discreet with an adhesive peel strip to keep the guard firmly in place.
Enjoy dryness and discretion in a bladder control pad designed just for you with Prevail Male Guards, Maximum. Shaped to fit around male anatomy, these fasten to existing underwear with an adhesive strip and provide all-day protection from mild urinary incontinence.
Features Cotton-Enhanced Dri-Fit, which feels dry and soft against the skin, even right after a void. Breathable cloth-like backing and an AirMax Layer designed to maintain the ideal temperature ensure skin integrity.
Travel incontinence products for moderate-heavy leaks
Looking for products that offer heavier absorbency? Check out the range of underwear, briefs, underpads, and urine bags below.
Protective Underwear with Heavy Absorbency (Unisex)
Feel dry and clean with Prevail Pull-Up Underwear, Maximum, which prevent leaks, reduce odors, and promote skin health.
With the look and feel of regular underwear, these pull-ups slide up the legs and protect against incontinence. Featuring a clothlike backsheet and MaxSoft technology, they’re as quiet as they are comfortable.
Plus, QUICK WICK with MaxSoft technology wicks wetness away on the spot, so the product feels dry and soft against your skin. Also includes an innovative hypoallergenic material with aloe, chamomile, and vitamin E.
Overnight Briefs with Tabs (Unisex)
Benefit from a full night’s rest when traveling, with Tranquility ATN All-Through-the-Night Disposable Briefs with Tabs.
Advanced Peach Mat Core locks away moisture and provides up to 8 hours of protection. Stay dry with extra boosts of absorbency in the sides and rear. Soft elastic leg guards trap incontinence inside the brief and hug the body for a more comfortable fit.
Underpads for Bedding
Keep the hotel or guest room bedding dry and clean with the McKesson Underpad, Ultra.
Placed on beds, chairs, wheelchairs, or any other kind of furniture, this disposable underpad is a single-use solution for any kind of surface that needs protection from incontinence or other kinds of moisture.
Features a fluff/polymer core and soft, heat-sealed, non-woven edges that are gentle on the skin.
Medegen’s Urine Bags have a wide opening, fully supported by a rigid plastic ring to help ensure access to the containment bag.
Twist, close, and hook bag into plastic ring support notch for easy, one-step disposal of contents.
Convenient for female individuals who have trouble reaching the bathroom in time.
The featured shape and sturdy grip handle are designed to stop spills and allow easy handling. Holds up to 32 oz. / 946 mL for peace-of-mind.
Lightweight, durable, and easy-to-clean plastic construction.
McKesson Male Urinals hold up to 32 oz. / 1000 cc, with an attached lid to prevent spills and reduce odors.
The urinal features a contoured handle for easy attachment and makes for a handy piece of kit for long car journeys if you ever get caught short.
Step 3: Traveling with Urinary Incontinence
Review the seating plan—Where’s the best place to sit on planes, trains, and buses?
Aisle seats often feel like “VIP seating” for people who experience frequent urination while traveling. (VIP even has “I-pee” in it, which is somewhat apt!)
When flying, seats towards the front or rear of the aircraft are the best choices, as they’ll be closer to the toilets if you need to make a dash.
On buses, toilets tend to be at the rear. The layout can be more random on trains, so it’s best to take a look around when you hop on board.
Avoid potential irritants—Are you steering clear of diuretics?
Sometimes, the bladder’s mean. Why?
Consider this. What are the drinks people often look forward to on their travels? Alcohol, coffee, and soft drinks, right?
Though the brain may say “Yes, please” to such beverages, the bladder screams in return, “Definitely not!”
Alcohol is a diuretic, which removes more water from the body (making you pee more). The same is true for caffeine, which is found in coffee and soft drinks.
So try to stick to good ol’ water and non-caffeinated drinks for less of a stop-start journey.
Traveling with an incontinent person—Do you need advice?
Wondering how best to prepare for traveling with an incontinent person?
Discussing incontinence with a loved one can be tricky. Here are five practical tips you might find helpful to remember:
Remind your travel partner that you don’t judge them for their incontinence.
Remind your travel partner to take any overactive bladder medications they’re on, at the correct times.
Pack spare toilet paper and hand sanitizer. You never know when you or your travel partner may need it!
Avoid drinking fluids in front of your travel partner. It might prompt them to need the toilet.
If there’s no bathroom around, but your travel partner needs to pee, help distract them with questions or word games.
Bon voyage! We wish you happy travels, no matter which type of transport you plan to use.
Read Next: Traveling with Bowel Incontinence
Want a hand deciding which protective products to buy ahead of your trip?
Give us a call at (855) 855-1666. Our Carewell support team lines are open 24/7.
Don’t forget to download and print our checklist for traveling with urinary incontinence.
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The Carewell Family
Declan Davey is a health and wellness copywriter from London, UK. His background includes roles as a psychological therapist for Islington Memory Service, where he worked with family caregivers, and as a rehab assistant at Camden Neurology & Stroke Service. You can connect with him on LinkedIn or on his website https://www.declandavey.com.