Jan Gambino Jan Gambino's Blog

Traveling with your Refluxer

The good news is- you got to go somewhere for your vacation. The bad news is- you had to bring all of that “stuff” you need to manage reflux at home on the road with you and set up a mobile care unit at your destination.

There is really no break from reflux. You can’t get away from it. You just take reflux on the road with you and hope for the best. I did that year after year when Rebecca was growing up. I had to. Either we packed all of the stuff and made the best of it or we would have stayed home for years and years. Somehow the extra work involved in taking care of a child with a chronic condition on vacation was balanced by the joy of being in a new place and breaking the dull routine. Finding the syringe at the bottom of the suitcase was a chore but hey, after medicine, we’re going to the beach!

Planning ahead, making a list and organization were all necessary to making a road trip as enjoyable as possible. It all started quite like everyone else with a diaper bag stuffed with disposable diapers, wipes and lots more. Rebecca was toilet trained by age two so while we were still using a diaper bag, it morphed into the feed bag. The food bag often contained a 24 hours supply of Rebecca’s food and drink. Some would say I was overly vigilant but I cannot tell you how many times Rebecca and her sisters were grateful for that last baggy of dry cereal when there was traffic or some other unexpected delay.

While she was taking medication for reflux, an important part of her treatment was eating small, frequent meals and adhering to a fairly small food list. I found that it was best to adhere to “the diet” not matter what, even if we were eating at the fun family restaurant that offered 12 items on the kids menu. Often, Rebecca still ended up ordering water and a side of plain mashed potatoes. Sometimes she would get daring and try something from the menu. I would get pangs of anxiety: what if the macaroni and cheese at the restaurant was different than her usual flavor/texture and she wouldn’t eat it? Should I ask for saltines? Run out to the car for the feed bag?

Then there was the medicine bag. This was another enormous bag that probably started its life as a diaper bag too. You know what I mean- a bag with all of those little pockets and zippers for organizing a gazillion things. This was a rather large medicine bag filled with most everything we owned in the kitchen and the medicine cabinet. For tube feedings I packed a case of ready to feed formula, tubing and syringes. For the reflux medications there were the special spoons and syringes and the little tubs of apple sauce to give the PPI. I was glad to have extra medicine for ordinary illnesses that always seemed to occur while we were away.

So pack up that feed bag and the medicine bag too and head for your vacation destination! You will be amazed at how refreshing it is to get out of the house for a few days.


Check with your
doctor first!