Tired of continuously facing this scenario, I decided to take action.
This is the story of how I did it....
Safe zones were the areas within easy reach of a public restroom whilst out on a car journey.
When travelling with IBS, every fuel station, every restaurant, every pub along the route becomes a potential waypoint where, if the need arose, one could stop and use the bathroom.
As each safe zone came and went my stress levels would rise and fall accordingly.
It was like holding my breath each time I would physically start driving away from a safe zone, especially if I knew the next safe zone would not be for at least another ten or fifteen minutes.
Suffice to say, driving a car was not a pleasant experience at all with IBS.
After several years of considerably stressful motoring, dashing between safe zones, I stumbled across a solution that had never occurred to me, at least not in any practical sense.
I was reading an IBS forum when I came across a post by a lady who's husband suffered very badly from IBS and couldn't travel anywhere.
She said that they had decided to buy a van, and inside the van they were going to place one of those caravan cassette toilets, so there would always be a facility nearby.
As soon as I read that article, you could almost see this huge light bulb appear above my head! It was a total revelation for me. I was left thinking "what a fantastic idea!"
That was the first time I realised stress-free travelling with IBS might just be achievable.
I wanted something I knew would be reliable, VERY reliable! so I then started looking at standard Vans with an eye to do my own building work.
I purchased a small cassette toilet the same day.
To begin with, I just strapped it into the back of the van with a bungee chord, and constructed a temporary, crude but functional privacy curtain around it.(click these 2 pics to enlarge)
After a few months or so, I ended up with quite a cheery little self-built motorhome.
Throughout the construction, I did everything in such a way that I would always be able to use the van as my main vehicle, no matter what stage the project was at, meaning the bathroom was always available.
I am now able to enjoy travel by road once again.
Travelling with IBS, knowing you are a couple of feet away from a restroom has been a very liberating experience.
I could not think of anything worse than not being able to get out and about or travel, so this van has been a life-saver.
I usually roll my sleeves up and do things myself whether it's a leaky tap, or building a wall, and I do appreciate that there will be people reading this who genuinely can't do that sort of thing.
Some people are terrified of DIY; they either don't have the confidence, or may have had a bad experience in the past. Others may lack the physical ability to take on major DIY projects.
The bottom line is, you don't have to go all-out and build a campervan - that's just me taking things to the extreme (as usual!)
Even non DIY people could quite easily get a small van or even an estate car (if it's got enough room inside), and strap in a small Portaloo, and jerry-rig some kind of a curtain or privacy screen. As long as it is an arrangement that you can access without too much fuss - it's all you need.
Just knowing it is there is really all you need to start enjoying motoring again, with unruffled feathers.
I'm happy to report that in 4 years of owning this van, there have only been a small number of occasions where I actually needed to pull over and use the bathroom at short notice.
Just the fact of knowing it is there could be all you need to start enjoying motoring again, as it takes away the panic , anxiety and uncertainty, leaving you a lot calmer and more relaxed, which in-turn should help in reducing your IBS symptoms.
Thanks to my van, I can now once again do day trips and journeys and all the things I couldn't do in a car. Travelling with IBS by road is no longer an issue.
Also, don't forget to see my article on creating an emergency IBS bathroom in your home - perfect if you currently only have one bathroom.
Ricks van Photos...
Below I have included a sequence of pictures that I took at the time of the original construction in 2004, and of a recent facelift I did earlier this year.
Here are the early construction
Be sure to see my other article
The psychological effects of living with IBS
I've managed to locate some reasonably priced casette toilets that are available via mail-order through Amazon.
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