A cruise ship floats on the waves surrounded by various ostomy supplies.

Packing for a Cruise With an Ostomy

I am finally going on my first big trip since being diagnosed with bladder cancer - a 1-week cruise to the Virgin Islands. I am so excited, but also very nervous. An entire week on a boat with no way to access ostomy support if something goes wrong.

I'm the kind of person who needs to be prepared for everything, so of course, I've been planning out the ostomy supplies I'm going to need from the day we booked this trip. Well, I am t-minus 3 weeks from sailing away, and I want to share my packing list and tips for anyone else ready to take their first long trip with an ostomy.

The most important thing

Of course, the most important thing is my actual ostomy bags. Knowing we are cruising to tropical destinations and have excursions that involve plenty of water, I wanted to ensure I have more bags than normal. Whether it be run-of-the-mill bag failure, possible leaks, or a compromised seal from being wet too long, I want to be prepared. This may be overkill, but I'm bringing 10 bags. Now they do pack down very small. All 10 bags folded take up the space of a small book.

On the topic of bags, I am bringing something a little different for this trip specifically. Instead of using the provided trash bags with my ostomy order, I decided to pack bags designed for diapers and ostomy pouches from a company called "Fab Little Bag." These bags are fully opaque, block scent, and fold up with an adhesive strip. The trash bags Coloplast sends are fairly see-through and do nothing for smell.

Frankly, a used urostomy bag will smell like urine. I didn't want to deal with odors in the small bathroom, and I wanted to be conscious of the stewards who clean the room. Being able to dispose of my used bags in a more discreet way just seemed better for everyone.

The usual suspects

I'm bringing all my usual accessories; barrier wipes, adhesive remover, silicone gel, and seals. But I'm also packing barrier extenders.

For my snorkel trip, I want extra security around the edge of my adhesive barrier. The extenders create an extra area of support and help prevent the edges from lifting when exposed to water long-term . They can also be helpful on hand if you notice a leak starting to form and can't immediately get to a place to do a bag change. An extender can buy you extra time to find a suitable spot for a bag change.

Because I will be doing activities and being exposed to environments way outside of my normal day-to-day, I'm bringing supplies specifically for peristomal skin care. I like to always have hydrocortisone, bacitracin, and Flonase on hand just in case I experience itching or skin irritation. I don't typically bring these for shorter trips, but being on a boat without access to these items in an emergency, I'd rather be safe than sorry.

Before setting sail

I'm sure I will pack and repack my supplies several times before we set sail, but I feel comfortable with my current plan. I look forward to reporting back post-cruise with what I did use, what worked well, and if there is anything I wished I had brought along but didn't.

For those who have taken long trips with their ostomy, what are your supply must haves? Let me know in the comments below!

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