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Traveling by Air with Urinary Catheters

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Traveling by air with urinary catheters can be a bit intimidating, especially for people who are new to cathing. 180 Medical likes to keep our patients well informed with the latest urological research, news, and tips.

First, Contact the Airline

One of the first things to do is to contact the airline you will be traveling with and inquire if the airline has any special procedures for traveling with catheters. The airline should advise of procedures you should follow. Ask if the equipment you bring onboard meets Transportation Security Administration (TSA) guidelines and follow some basic hygiene steps during the flight.

I have never had a problem with the airlines questioning why I am carrying the catheters and supplies, but if you are concerned you can always contact the airline you are traveling with and let them know.

Know the TSA’s Carry-on Bag Regulations

TSA has established air travel laws and regulations pertaining to liquids. For carry-on bags, place all liquids of 3.4 oz or less in one clear plastic quart bag. If your catheters have water packets, they would need to be placed in the clear bag.

Since medications are an exception to the rule, the catheters with water packets might be okay with doctor documentation but check with the airline beforehand to make sure.

If you have lubricant, make sure it is 3.4oz or less, and it would also need to go in a clear plastic bag. For those who use lubricant with their catheters, the airline should be okay with it as it is required to catheterize. You should not be limited to how much you can take, but keep it with your catheters, so it will be more apparent what it is used for.

I have not had a problem with leakage, but it might not be a bad idea to put the lubricant into a plastic bag.

Pack Catheters in Checked Luggage Too

Of course, I suggest carrying some catheter supplies in your carry-on baggage. However, you should pack the rest in your checked luggage. This way you don’t have to worry about carrying around the extra load.

Sometimes, when I’m staying somewhere for a while, I like to ship my supplies to my destination. 180 Medical handles this with no problems. Just give them notice before your next shipment.

Bring Extra Catheters

I always say better safe than sorry, especially when it comes to medical supplies that we need to empty our bladders! Count the number of catheters you will need for your trip depending on how often you catheterize and how many days you will be gone. It is a good idea to take enough catheters to last a few extra days in case of unforeseen circumstances. This also includes lubricating jelly and any other supplies you use to catheterize.

Consider Travel Catheters Like Closed Systems

traveling by air with cathetersMany people prefer to use a more advanced catheter while traveling to try and reduce the chance of getting an infection. These pre-lubricated catheter kits do not require additional lubricating jelly, and you don’t have to directly touch the catheter tube. These are sometimes known as “no-touch” catheters, although most people call them closed system catheters. If your insurance does not cover advanced catheter products, consider purchasing some for traveling.

Take Cathing Accessories Like Antibacterial Wipes

When you’re away from home, you can’t always guarantee the sterility of your environment. You’ll likely be cathing in public restrooms. So I suggest using antibacterial wipes to clean your urethral area and your hands before cathing.

Additional Air Travel Resources

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About the Author
Traveling by Air with Urinary Catheters
Bill worked for 180 Medical for over 10 years. As a quadriplegic with over 30 years of experience, Bill loves peer mentoring, sharing his first-hand experiences, and helping others who may have questions about life after a spinal cord injury and self-catheterization. He enjoys spending time outdoors as well as watching and attending motocross events.