Having an ostomy will not prevent you from travelling, whether it is for pleasure or business, home or abroad.

Travel insurance is a must when travelling away from home. There are many insurance companies offering travel insurance – remember to declare pre-existing diseases and illness and the fact that you have an Ostomy. This ensures that you are covered for all eventualities.

Ostomy Travel Certificate

This travel certificate is available from your stoma nurse or online here. The certificate will assist you when going through customs/airport security, if there is a need to explain about your stoma appliances.

When travelling always take with you the size, name, order number and the manufacturer’s name of your stoma equipment in case of need of replacement. It is also useful to have the telephone number of your stoma equipment supplier with you. Remove your stoma equipment from its boxes and put in clean plastic bags for easier packing. If you are away for an extended period of time discuss with your stoma nurse how to contact a local stoma care nurse/local agent/how to get help if needed.

Do not forget to have your travel kit readily available at all times. Wear clothes that are comfortable and easy to remove when travelling.

Travel by air – hints and tips

  • Always keep your ostomy products with you in your hand luggage, not in your checked in luggage.
  • Remember to cut and prepare your stoma bags/flange/wafer before packing, because scissors must only go in the checked-in luggage.
  • Pack twice as much stoma equipment as you would normally use.
  • Prior and during travelling do not miss meals. Remember to drink plenty of fluids, be careful with alcohol and avoid fizzy drinks.
  • It is useful to book an aisle seat.
  • Think ahead, a meal trolley can make it difficult to get to the toilet.
  • Security/seat belts must be used when told to. Try to position the belt below or above your stoma.

Travel by sea – hints and tips

  • Toilet facilities are usually good on ferries. When the sea is rough the toilets can be very busy.
  • On cruise liners the facilities usually include medical staff that may be able to help you in an emergency.

Travel by rail – hints and tips

  • Most trains have toilets, you can check first if in doubt.
  • Not all trains have buffet facilities so make sure you have plenty of fluid to drink and something to eat with you.

Travel by road – hints and tips

  • There are usually toilets in service areas/petrol stations and most coaches have toilets.
  • Do not leave your supplies in the car in hot weather, as the adhesive may start to melt.
  • An insulated bag can be useful for carrying your stoma equipment during summer time/hot weather.

Food and drink when travelling

A change in water, either in your own country or abroad, can cause a change in bowel habit. Only bottled water should be drunk outside your own country. Check that the bottle seal has not been tampered with by holding the bottle upside down to check for leaks. To avoid travellers-diarrhoea be aware of what you are eating and drinking.

The following may cause problems

  • Tap water and ice in drinks.
  • Cleaning your teeth with tap water.
  • Previously opened bottled drinks.
  • Raw vegetables and fruits that you haven’t peeled yourself.
  • Salads.
  • Shellfish.
  • Cream, ice cream and mayonnaise.
  • Buffet food, which has been left out for extended periods of time.
  • Meat and fish, unless freshly cooked and piping hot.
  • Be aware of inadequately cooked food at barbeques.

Always take Imodium (Loparamide) with you when travelling. If diarrhoea occurs avoid spicy foods and dairy products. You need to drink lots of fluids and take added salt with your meals. This is the one time that full strength Coca Cola and salted crisps are encouraged. Seek medical help if it continues for more than 24 hours.