Traveling with a Stoma: Tips for Traveling by Air
I hear many people are anxious about traveling with their stoma. Tales are told that your “pouch” will inflate on a plane due to cabin pressure. This is untrue!
With a little bit of forward planning, there is no reason whatsoever for not going to your favorite destination.
Traveling by plane
I personally have taken many flights since getting my stoma. I’ve done long haul, short haul, even connecting flights to far-flung destinations. Here’s what I have learned:
I would recommend obtaining a “travel certificate”. These can be obtained from your stoma supplier. This little document explains in several languages your condition and that your stoma supplies need to be kept with you at all times. A very helpful little document! Also, it’s worth considering getting a “lanyard” that some airports are now offering. This gives airport staff “the head’s up” that you have a hidden disability. Contact the airport in advance to check if they are operating this scheme, and if so, how you go about obtaining one. Lastly, the “TSA” can also be informed ahead of your flight and can sometimes offer easier options when going through security.
Packing for your flight
Always keep all your ostomy supplies and any other medication required for your trip in your hand luggage.
Take double the amount of supplies you think you will require. The reason I say this is, sometimes “out of the blue” we can start to suffer leaks. Sometimes we can get a “dodgy” pouch or two. I know I have had issues with just a tiny little hole that wasn’t visible. But hey ho, as soon as urine started to flow, I very soon found out.
Be mindful of the restrictions
Please be mindful of the restrictions on “liquids” that airports impose. Most suppliers can provide you with adhesive remover wipes instead of a spray; the same goes if you use a barrier spray as barrier wipes are also available. Any liquids that you do need to carry must be kept together in a clear plastic bag and not exceed the airlines allowance. Usually no bottle should contain more than 100ml, and a total allowance of all items not to exceed 1000ml. But please do check airports' up-to-date information on liquid allowances BEFORE traveling.
If your supplier doesnt cut the stoma size for you before dispatch, then cut yourself in advance as unfortunately, we are not allowed to carry sharp objects in our hand luggage, and that includes small scissors for medical purposes. I found out the hard way and had my scissors confiscated by security staff.
An emergency pack
Also, keep an “emergency pack” with you at all times. By this, I mean put together a little pack containing everything you would require should you need to change your pouch in an emergency.
A rough guide to contents would be as follows:
2 pre-cut pouches, adhesive remover, barrier wipes or spray, dry wipes, a disposal bag, a night bag adapter (if you use them), flange extenders (these can buy you a couple of hours extra wear time if there is nowhere suitable to change your pouch). If you use any kind of stoma adhesive, see if your supplier can give you a “sample”. This does away with having to carry full size gels or liquids in your “emergency pack”. And lastly a clean pair of underwear. All this can be placed into a small toiletry or make-up bag.
(please note: remove any liquids from emergency pack and place in clear bag with all other liquids before passing through security)
At the airport
I would always advise you to empty your “pouch” before going through security.
Once at the security point, and before entering the scanner, I hand the security staff my “travel certificate”.
Be prepared for a “pat down”. You can request that this be done in a private room if you so wish. If at any point you are unhappy or uneasy about the way you are being treated, you can request that the “pat down” be stopped and ask for a Supervisor or Manager.
Now that you are through security, let your holiday commence, and go and have a great time!
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