In this post, we’ll be looking at things to think about when you’re travelling with a stoma. You may also find it helpful to look at the posts on our My Ovacome forum from December 2019 on the topic of travel following an ovarian cancer diagnosis, including information about the practicalities of travel and insurance:

healthunlocked.com/ovacome/...

healthunlocked.com/ovacome/...

healthunlocked.com/ovacome/...

healthunlocked.com/ovacome/...

Travelling with a stoma involves some planning and preparation to help the trip to go smoothly

It’s worthwhile ordering more products for your trip than you use at home and to order products well in advance, so that you have them in good time before you leave. Your return home could be delayed or you may be changing your bag more often than usual. This could be because of changes to your diet and stoma output, because you’re going swimming or because you’re sweating in hotter weather.

You should also take a list of the products that you use, including their product codes, and the contact details for your supplier in case you need to buy or order more while you’re away.

You may also want to use different products, for example drainable bags for travelling or in case of stomach upsets, bags with a disposable liner for while you’re away or mini bags for swimming.

If you don’t feel comfortable in ordinary swimwear, there are companies that make swimwear designed for people with stomas, including:

ComFizz Tel: 0113 266 2096 comfizz.com

CuiWear Tel: 0800 2792050 cuiwear.com

Respond Tel: 0800 220 300 respond.co.uk/product-categ...

Vanilla Blush Tel: 0141 763 0991 vblush.com

White Rose Collection Ltd Tel: 0345 460 1910 whiterosecollection.com

If it would help you to feel more confident away from home, you can also get disposable bed pads in case of a leak. Your stoma nurse will be able to advise you about suitable products and companies.

For peace of mind, you may prefer to pack all of your stoma supplies in your hand luggage rather than your hold luggage, which can occasionally get delayed or lost. If any of the products you will be taking on the plane need to be cut to size, remember you will need to do this beforehand, as scissors and other sharp objects are not allowed in hand luggage.

You may need to carry more hand luggage than is normally allowed. The airline will be able to confirm their current rules on hand luggage.

If you have a letter from your GP confirming your needs and a list of the products you’ll be taking, the airport security manager may be able to provide a letter giving permission to exceed the usual hand luggage allowance. You should contact the airport well in advance to ask whether this is possible and, if so, to arrange it.

You can also get a travel certificate signed by your doctor explaining that you have a medical condition and have a stoma. You can get this, as well as information and advice, from your stoma nurse, the Ileostomy and Internal Pouch Association, The Colostomy Association and The Urostomy Association, including certificates in different languages. The links to their information are at the bottom of this post.

It’s also a good idea to tell staff that you have a stoma when you enter the security area. Some airports can provide lanyards to anyone with a hidden disability or condition who might need extra support. You can contact the airport in advance to ask what assistance they can offer.

Security staff will be trained to recognise stoma bags so it should not cause a problem, but it’s a good idea to empty or change your bag before going through security, as the body scanner could flag it up as something that needs to be checked.

As you will know, your stoma supplies should be stored somewhere cool and away from direct sunlight. If you’re staying somewhere very warm, you may need to keep them in a coolbox.

Anyone travelling to another country can find that their digestion is affected by the food and water there or get a stomach bug. It’s sensible to pack some over the counter medication for dehydration, diarrhoea and constipation. Your GP, stoma nurse or pharmacist can advise about what to take.

It’s important to drink enough water to avoid getting dehydrated and avoid foods that could cause an upset stomach or other issues with your stoma. If the tap water at your destination isn’t safe to drink, have bottled water instead and look out for ice cubes in drinks or foods such as salads that may have been washed in tap water.

If you have a colostomy and are irrigating while you are away, use bottled water if there is any doubt about the local tap water.

If you would like to share your experience of travelling with a stoma, or if you have any tips on doing this, please comment on this post. You can find more information on travelling with different types of stoma at:

iasupport.org/about/publica...

colostomyuk.org/information...

urostomyassociation.org.uk/...