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Continence Management

Travelling with incontinence

Travel can seem daunting to people with continence problems, but with a bit of planning there’s no reason not to continue enjoying your life.

When a person is diagnosed with incontinence they may assume that it spells an end to their independence and may restrict which activities they can partake in.

A number of studies and surveys confirm this belief:

  • Sufferers limit their travel to places and routes where they know the location of toilets, They prefer to drive themselves so they can stop when they need to, They drink less fluid if planning to go out. They restrict certain physical activities, such as lifting, and generally go out less.1
  • People tend to avoid or limit factors, activities and situations that may provoke episodes of urinary incontinence. Restrictions and limitations may influence social activity, travel, physical activity, fluid intake, choice of occupation, and intimate relationships.2
  • 35% of women report changing their activities to accommodate the condition including avoiding exercise, traveling less frequently and avoiding sex.3

There is no reason why people with incontinence shouldn’t be able to travel or restrain from being active. There are many services, continence products and types of toileting equipment that can help with incontinence management and a number of ways people can self-manage their condition.

A happy-looking old lady is sitting at a table in a hospital room; in front of her is a board game. Two medical assistants standing far behind her and talking to each other

Preparing beforehand

Bladder training prior to travelling can help control incontinence and allow sufferers to have longer periods between toilet breaks. Paying attention to the body’s signals and urge to urine can help calculate how long the bladder can go before it needs to empty.

Planning the journey

Planning and scheduling toilet breaks will help reduce the stress of travelling and put your mind at ease. It is a good idea to pack a travel kit containing your continence products and any supplies you may need. There may be limited availability to buy continence products and any equipment at the destination you are travelling to. Here is a list of a few items you may wish to include:

  • Plastic bags with twist ties for easy disposal
  • Hand wipes and antibacterial cleaning products
  • A variety of incontinence products: pads and liners for light urinary leakage
  • Protective underwear
  • Briefs for maximum protection
  • Extra underwear, pants and outer clothes

Couple travelling

While travelling

Remember, coffee, caffeinated drinks, alcohol or carbonated beverages should be limited or if these are known to worsen your symptoms - avoid them completely. Drinking water should not be excluded during travel, as cutting down on water with the aim of reducing urine leakage can actually make things worse. If you are travelling by plane, bare in mind that in-flight air conditioning is dehydrating so it is important to continue to drink water.

If you are in an unfamiliar city and have an apple or android mobile phone, it maybe helpful to download a 'toilet finder' app. Toilet Finder apps will help you locate the closest toilet facilities in the area.

You can also order a toilet access card from HARTMANN Direct. You can show this card to request to use the toilet at a shop, restaurant or other UK business in a discreet way. It doesn't guarantee access to their toilets (as every business has different health and safety rules), but it explains that you have a genuine need that requires the urgent use of a toilet.


[1] Abrams P, Kelleher CJ, Kerr LA, Rogers RG. Overactive bladder significantly affects quality of life. The American Journal of Managed Care. 2000; 6(11): S580-S590.

[2] Hägglund D, Walker-Engstrom ML, Larsson G, Leppert J. Reasons why women with long-term urinary incontinence do not seek professional help: a cross-sectional population-based cohort study. Int Urogynecol J Pelvic Floor Dysfunct. Nov 2003;14(5):296-304; discussion 304.) and Thompson DL, Smith DA. Continence nursing: A whole person approach. Holistic Nursing Practice. Jan 2002 2002;16(2):14.

[3] Gallup survey, 2002