Holiday Travel with an Ostomy
Last updated: February 2023
Many of you may have just been traveling to visit family and friends for Thanksgiving or will be already thinking about the holidays and either hosting or spending it with friends and family. It is likely for many this will possibly involve long automobile journeys, stays in hotels, or maybe staying in the homes of our friends and families.
Holiday travel with an ostomy
When you have an ostomy, there is always a bit of extra preparation required when you travel and stay away from home in unfamiliar environments where we don't as readily have all we need to hand. However, with a little extra preparation, you can focus on celebrating and not on your ostomy.
Used as the word suggests - at night while you sleep, are a love/hate thing. Some people swear by them, others prefer to wait to empty their bag. Personally, I swear by my night bag. It gives me peace of mind and a great night's sleep.
The night bag is not only great at night but can also be used for long car journeys. Again, it relieves angst worrying about the next rest area and access to a restroom to empty your ostomy bag.
An alternative to a night bag is a leg bag. Again, this is not for everyone, but I use it for shorter car journeys and for going to a movie where I perhaps need a little longer time between restroom visits.
Personally, I always have I night bag in my glove compartment, this way I can be sure that even on a journey when I don’t expect to need it it’s there. If you prefer not to use an additional night or leg bag, an empty water bottle is a good idea to have at hand, so you can empty your regular ostomy bag if needed during a long automobile trip.
Reusable continence pads
Another thing I do is take a reusable continence pad which I put on top of the bedsheet when I'm staying in a hotel, Airbnb, or in someone else's house.
These are widely available and cheap to purchase. They can be washed in the washing machine and even dried at low heat in an electric dryer. They are very absorbent and draw any moisture away from your body should you have an unexpected leak. This prevents any potential leaks onto the sheets already on a bed or indeed the bed itself. I find it gives me peace of mind.
Another thing to consider is the bathroom arrangements where you are going.
If lots of people are staying in someone's house, ask if it is possible to get the en-suite bedroom or the one closest to the bathroom.
Another useful tip is to make up several complete bag changes in a Ziplock bag with all you need, then if you are traveling, out and about, or in an unfamiliar environment, you know you can just pick it up and have all you need for a change.
I also always carry a diaper changing bag. In that, I have changes of clothes, ostomy bag change supplies, and a travel diaper changing mat which folds up. This means wherever I am, I have a clean surface to lay out all my supplies and change.
Preparing for travel with an ostomy
The key thing for me is preparation. Having an ostomy doesn't stop you from traveling. It just involves some careful planning and then while you travel and when you get there you can focus on a lovely time with family and friends over the holidays.
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