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Travelling with a stoma

Holidays are generally the highlight of most people’s year and the thing we look forward to the most. Having a stoma shouldn’t affect this or take away any holiday excitement and whether you’re planning a city break, an active and adventurous holiday or just a relaxing beach holiday in the sun, you should be able to enjoy yourself without your stoma getting in the way. 

One of the key things to keep in mind when it comes to travelling with a stoma is to be prepared, plan ahead and take enough supplies with you. Wherever you decide to go on your holidays, there’s no reason why you can’t relax and have a fantastic time with your family or friends. 

At the airport

When going through security, many ostomates worry about being searched and pat down. Airport security staff should be trained for these circumstances and there are procedures in place that screening officers should follow to make sure your privacy is maintained. For example, you don’t have to show your pouch or remove any clothing to expose it, instead, you may simply be asked to rub your hand against the pouch on the outside of your clothes.

If you do need to be searched, you can always show them your travel certificate, which explains in 10 different languages what your condition is and what supplies you are carrying.

Flying with a stoma

First things first, when it comes to booking your plane ticket, it’s a good idea to select a seat that’s located as close to the toilets as possible. By being seated nearer to the toilets you’ll have easier access in case of any leakages or issues with your stoma bag, giving yourself some extra reassurance, taking away any concerns you may have, and helping you to feel more relaxed and comfortable throughout your flight.

During your flight, there is a possibility that the air pressure will cause your bag to balloon if this does happen you just need to go to the toilet and let the air out. Another thing to bear in mind is that the food and drink you consume can cause ballooning, so on the day of your travels, just be extra cautious about what you’re eating and drinking.

It’s important to remember to pack your stoma supplies in your hand luggage bag to make sure you can easily access spare pouches and any accessories you may need. 

Finally, it’s important to try to leave any anxiety at home when you’re flying with a stoma and to enjoy your flight without feeling nervous or self-conscious. As long as you’ve got spare bags nearby there shouldn’t be any issues whatsoever.

The impact of warm weather

If you’re expecting hot weather in your chosen holiday destination, you’re likely to perspire slightly more than you usually would. If this happens, all you need to do is change your pouch a bit more often than you normally would.

Just another thing to bear in mind, when you’re applying a new bag make sure your skin is dry and free from sun cream to make sure it sticks as it should.

When you’re away on your holidays, we suggest keeping your supplies in a cool place and out of the sun to prevent damaging the adhesive.

Beachwear and swimwear

If you’ve decided on a holiday in the sun this summer, you may be unsure about what to wear to the beach or pool. The most important thing is to wear something that you’re comfortable in and that makes you feel good. Some people aren’t too bothered about showing their bag, whereas others would rather hide it. If you do want to cover your bag, a great way to do this is with a sarong or a wrap.

If you fancy a dip in the pool or a swim in the sea during your holiday, you just need to make sure that the wafer is stuck down properly before you get in. Bear in mind as well that the water can affect the adhesion, so be sure to change your bag more often than you usually would.

Packing your bag

Packing your bag can be stressful at the best of times since the last thing you want is to forget something you really need, and this is even more important for ostomates. The good news is, we’ve compiled a list of things to make sure you pack in your suitcase before you go on holiday. 

Your travel bag should include:

  • Enough stoma bags to last your whole trip, plus some extras just in case.
  • Cleansing wipes to keep your hands clean
  • Dry wipes
  • Disposal bags
  • Some drainable stoma pouches, even if you usually use closed ones so that you can empty your bag more easily when travelling.

It’s also a good idea to make sure you put some stoma supplies and a spare change of clothes in your hand luggage bag as well as your check-in luggage, just in case your luggage gets misplaced or lost. Additionally, you may want to pack more supplies than you think you will need, just in case of any emergencies or incidents.

Travel certificate for stoma patients

Making sure you get yourself a travel certificate can work wonders for making your travels less stressful and can help to prevent any trouble at security. Travel certificates explain your condition, the medical supplies you are carrying and why you may need a bit of privacy and support when going through airport security.

Stoma travel insurance

Whether you’ve lived with a stoma for many years or you have recently had surgery, it’s vital that you find travel insurance that will cover you wherever you’re going on holiday. This will mean that your medical expenses will be covered in case you need any medical attention. 

There are many good stoma travel insurance companies out there so do some shopping around to find the best offer!

Have a local care plan

Hopefully, you won’t need it, but it’s a good idea to have a plan in case you need local care. Your stoma nurse might be able to help you with this and it may even be possible to get supplies out to you should you need them.

We recommend carrying this letter template filled out by your stoma nurse and if needs be translated to the local language:

__________________ has a condition that requires a colostomy/ileostomy/urostomy. This is an opening on the surface of the abdomen from the large/small intestine, which allows the body to eliminate faeces/urine because __________________ is unable to do so normally. The opening or stoma is covered by a pouch (appliance) that serves as a container for waste until it can be emptied. The enclosed is a list of equipment that is needed by __________________ to change the appliance when necessary. For further information please contact __________________.

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