7 Tips for Traveling with an Ostomy

Are you a recent ostomate wondering if it’s possible to travel while managing your ostomy? The good news is: Absolutely! An ostomy is a life-saving procedure meant to help you get back to a semblance of normal. Traveling with an ostomy can be a part of that. It doesn’t have to be a stressful or unpleasant experience as long as you’re properly prepared for your trip. 

Get Prepared! 

To show you how, we’ve compiled some valuable travel tips below. From packing a travel bag for ostomy supplies ahead of time to keeping your routine normal on vacation, read on to become a confident traveler again!

1: Pack a Carry-On

If you’re traveling on a plane with an ostomy, you should pack your supplies in a carry-on as opposed to a checked bag. Although lost or delayed luggage is rare, it does happen from time to time. It’s best to keep your ostomy travel bags on you at all times to avoid what could be a disastrous situation.

Ostomy carry-on checklist:

2: Be Ready for TSA

As we all know, security is tight at the airport. So keep in mind that gels, aerosols, and/or creams may be confiscated if they do not meet the TSA’s very specific standards. For guidance on size/volume limits, refer to the TSA 3-1-1 liquids rule.

As a failsafe, you may want to obtain a travel communication card from the United Ostomy Associations of America (UOAA). It explains what these supplies are and their medical importance. Show this card to the TSA officer if they question your carry-on. It can also be helpful in reducing the chances of further screenings.

3: Be Extra Conscious of Your Hygiene

Maintaining hygiene while traveling will prevent contamination and possible infection. Since hundreds or thousands of people use public restrooms in airports daily, you must take extra precautions to protect yourself.

Be sure to:

4: Regularly Empty Your Pouch

If you use a drainable pouch, maintain your regular emptying schedule. Don’t hesitate to drain your bag inside the airplane or in a public restroom. The absolute last thing you need is to be caught with an overfilled pouch at an inopportune time, such as take-off or landing.

To be safe, you may even want to increase the frequency that you empty. For instance, if you’ve been drinking lots of water or eating more than usual, making adjustments won’t hurt.

If you have an ileostomy or urostomy, the liquid output can be particularly hard to deal with in travel situations. For you, a gelling agent like Trio Pearls might be in order. These little packets are placed in an empty pouch and will thicken liquid output on contact, making for a more manageable pouch and easier drainage. They also do a great job mitigating pouch odor

5: Take Note of All Bathroom Locations

Wherever you go, you should try to be aware of as many bathroom locations as possible. When you arrive at your hotel or resort, ask the concierge or front desk for information on public bathroom locations, so you’ll know what’s most accessible if there are emergencies, such as leaks in your pouch.

If you’re sightseeing, research ahead of time and find bathrooms in every area you’ll be visiting. Be sure to have a backup plan when necessary, and always tell your travel companion/s where you’re going if an emergency arises.

6: Stay Hydrated & Avoid Irritating Foods

For many, one of the biggest pleasures of travel is sampling new and unique cuisines. For fecal ostomates this can be tricky. Adhering to your regular diet is the best way to stay on the safe side, but you should be able to try new foods within reason. If you’re at a restaurant, inquire about the ingredients in different dishes, and avoid any that have elements you know tend to irritate you. 

If you plan on being on-the-go for much of the day, pack healthy snacks so that you won’t have to grab unhealthy fast food or junk from a machine.

It’s also a good idea to keep yourself hydrated by drinking plenty of water throughout the day. This will help keep your body and digestion regulated, cutting down on fatigue and potential emergencies. For urostomates, of course, increasing water intake may lead to a more frequent need to drain. You’re the best judge of your own body – do what works best for you.

7: Have a Backup Plan

In case the worst does happen and your supplies are lost, research where you can get them locally at your destination, such as pharmacies or public clinics. Before you leave, ask your primary healthcare provider for doctor references there. They may be of some help in obtaining supplies in a pinch.

If you have more questions, don’t hesitate to make an appointment with your doctor. Create an emergency plan with them so they know about your situation and can help if something goes wrong.

If you’re staying in the US for your vacation, Medical Monks is always available as well. If you call in Monday-Friday between 8am and 7pm, we should be able to arrange a next-day delivery to most domestic locations. 

Travel On!

Whether you’re traveling the world or going home for the holidays, remember that your ostomy is something that requires maintenance, but should not be seen as a hindrance. The tips above will help you go about your business without undue anxiety or fear. So be prepared, and have a great trip! 

The MEDICAL MONKS STAFF brings to the table decades of combined knowledge and experience in the medical products industry.

Edited for content by ADAM PAGE.

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