What you need to know when travelling with catheters

The summer holidays are here! Will you be relaxing on the beach, enjoying a city break or taking that adventurous once-in-a-lifetime trip?

Regardless of where you are going and what you're doing, any type of travel and change to your routine comes with the same questions: Will I be there in time? Did I remember to pack my phone charger? Did I unplug the iron?

Some travellers will also be asking themselves: Will I be able to find an accessible toilet? Did I pack enough catheters? How will I get past customs with my catheters and medicine?

Especially for you, we put together a checklist to ease the stress.

Man in wheelchair boarding a boat 

Travel tips for those who use catheters

You can safely manage your bladder with Intermittent Catheterisation (IC) both at home and on your travels. Here we have gathered some advice so you can be prepared, and avoid the need for troubleshooting on your journey.

Packing for the trip

  • Bring extra catheters

    Always pack extra catheters. Your journey home can be delayed, or other contingencies may occur that cause the need for more catheters.

    Tip! Bring extra hand sanitiser. Wet wipes are also good to have.

  • Catheters in your carry-on bag

    Ensure that you pack extra catheters in your carry-on bag in case you lose the rest of your luggage. It's a good idea to ask if your travel companion can bring catheters on your behalf in their luggage.

During your travel

  • Being discreet

    Bring a travel certificate (Medical Validation Certificate) from your catheter provider. This explains in different languages why you are carrying catheters in your luggage. There is also a section on the certificate that urges the customs service staff and TSA officials to show discretion.

  • Medication abroad

    If you take any medication, it is wise to pack this in your carry-on bag. Be aware that some medication requires certain certificates. Ask at your pharmacy or your doctor.

  • Empty the bladder on the flight or train

    You might fear long journeys, where you know you will need to empty your bladder at some point, and the space is limited in both the seat and in the bathroom.

    One solution is to use a kit product. An all-in-one catheter kit system that includes catheter, water and a built in collection bag. With this option you can remain seated while you discreetly catheterise, using a blanket to cover your lap. The urinary bag can be sealed and disposed of later, or by your travel companion.

    Another option is to attach a urinary bag to your usual catheter.

When you are away from home

  • If you run out of catheters

    If you realise that you don’t have enough catheters during your trip, you can contact the local office of your catheter provider. In most cases they can help you out.

  • Clean water

    If you travel in countries with poor water quality, you can bring ready-to-use hydrophilic catheters.
    Don't forget to wash your hands before CIC - and after!

    Tip! If the water quality at your destination is good enough to drink, you can use it for your catheter, but note that it should be cold water to reduce the risk of bacterial infection. 

    Tip! If the tap water is not good, you can use bottled water. 

Things to mark off your checklist

I have chosen the catheters with consideration given to my travel destination

I have packed enough catheters

I have divided the catheters between my carry-on bag and my other luggage

I have also brought hand sanitiser and wet wipes

I have a travel certificate for my catheters

In the resources below you can download your travel certificate. This explains in ten different languages why you are carrying catheters in your luggage. It is really good to have!