Travel Tips: Overactive Bladder (OAB)

An overactive bladder triggers a frequent feeling that you need to urinate, even if your bladder is empty. Overactive bladder (OAB) is a common urinary condition. Traveling with an overactive bladder can be quite daunting and challenging. It may even seem impossible, especially when considering making long trips or going overseas. However, you can treat overactive bladder if you understand OAB symptoms. Once the symptoms of an overactive bladder are understood, there are ways to travel with an overactive bladder. Here are some tips on how to make traveling with OAB a little easier.

Overactive Bladder Travel Tips


There are numerous treatments and medications that can help ease an overactive bladder. Ask your general practitioner about the merits of bladder relaxants if you don’t already use them. Try out new medications well before traveling if possible. This will make you feel more confident about traveling because you will know what works, how it works, and any possible side effects

Potty Mouth

Inodoro por favour? Toilette s'il vous plait? Toilet please? Speak the language. If your trip includes crossing international borders, learn the local word for toilet and how to say basic phrases. Have the words and phrases written down in a handy notebook for you to practice en route, or for locals to read quickly so that they can help you.

Dry Up

Limit the amount of liquid entering your body before leaving. This can help reduce the number of trips to the bathroom when in transit. Limiting the amount of liquid you drink before a flight will also help if your flight is delayed. Furthermore, a change in airplane cabin pressure can also affect bladder function. Therefore, consuming less liquid will avoid putting pressure on the bladder. If possible, don’t drink anything for at least two hours before take-off.

Fly Aisle

When possible, reserve an aisle seat that is close to the bathroom on domestic and international flights. Sitting in the window seat will make it harder to get to a bathroom, and could result in an accident as you squeeze past other passengers. We recommend locating a bathroom before you take a seat. Try also to establish where the bathrooms are at the terminal you will be arriving at. In some cases, you may be able to locate them on internet maps while onboard.

Suit Yourself

Suit up appropriately for the trip. Wear comfy clothing that you know how to get in and out of quickly. If you would like to wear a new outfit, wear it at home first so you can get used to it. Choose neutral colors that are easy to mix and match if you need to change in a jiffy.


In severe cases of OAB, catheters are an option when traveling. This is especially true if you have concerns about urge incontinence. One advantage of catheters is that they help to delay actually having to go to the bathroom. Consult your urologist or general health care provider about an intermittent catheter for traveling.

Route Plan

Taking note of where the rest areas and exits are on your route is imperative. Regardless of if you have an overactive bladder (OAB), you should stop every two to four hours when driving long distances. Stopping every couple of hours will help to ease bladder strain and reduce the threat of urgency incontinence. When traveling, factor these stops into your estimated time of arrival.

Bladder Training

Bladders can be trained. One effective way to train your bladder is timed voiding. Timed voiding entails emptying the bladder according to a schedule. It is imperative that you follow the schedule even if you don’t feel a need to urinate. After following the schedule for a while, increase the time in between bathroom visits. Eventually, this will strengthen your bladder muscles and allow you better bladder control. The added advantage of voiding is that you will be able to plan your travel around the extended schedule.

Pack it Up

It is always better to be over-prepared than under-prepared. Therefore, if you're in doubt, pack it. In addition to extra clothing, pack an emergency kit including extra medication, incontinence protection, and toilet paper. Plan and pack for the worst-case scenario. Knowing that you have what you need will boost your confidence when traveling.

You need to P

Preparing for a trip means you need to P. Always remember, Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance. If you can’t trust your bladder, trust your gut. We hope these tips will help to make your travels easier, whether you have an overactive bladder (OAB) or not.

Additional Information:

Bladder Retraining - National Association for Continence (NAFC)


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