Travel Tips: What You Need to Know for Driving or Flying with an Ostomy

Traveling should not end just because of your ostomy. With a little extra planning and preparation, you can get out there and see more of the world. Here are some ways to help make your next trip a success, whether you are traveling just outside of your hometown or flying off to a new continent for the first time.

Remember, everyone is different and your comfort should come first, make sure to ease into travel at whatever pace works best for you.


Traveling by car

To help you prepare for larger and longer trips, you may want to begin with a shorter trip where you have more control over the situation. Maybe a road trip to a nearby town for a weekend getaway? The great thing about traveling by car is that you are less limited in what you pack, this means you can overpack on supplies for the first few trips until you get a handle on what you will need.

If you travel by car, you might also find it helpful to bring a small cushion. Place it in your lap between the seat belt and your pouch. That way you can avoid having the seat belt rub against your pouch.


Traveling by plane

Notify your airline and hotel in advance of any special requirements you may have and confirm they will be able to accommodate you. It may be helpful to do some research ahead of time to find out where you can get additional ostomy or catheter supplies in case of an emergency, such as your luggage going missing or other travel mishaps.

If you are flying to your destination, keep in mind that travel restrictions will apply. Pack as much of your supplies as possible in your carry-on luggage.

Anything that doesn’t fit, you can pack in your checked bag. If you don’t wear a pre-cut ostomy barrier, you may want to cut your barriers before traveling, since sharp objects, such as scissors, are restricted from carry-on travel.

Liquids and aerosol cans might be also prohibited – that means you may not be allowed to bring accessories such as adhesive removers unless they contain 3 ounces or less. Luckily most accessories also come as wipes, so remember to bring lots of those in your carry-on luggage.


Long-distance flying with an ostomy

Arrive early to your flight, at least the recommended 2 hours for domestic flights and 3 hours for international flights. This way you can get through security early and have extra time should you need to go to the restroom.

Pack an extra supply of any vital ostomy or catheter supplies and prescriptions in your carry-on. You never know when your checked baggage will be lost, a connecting flight will be canceled, or bad weather will extend your vacation by a few days.

During long-distance flights, people typically use the restrooms around meal times. To ensure you won’t have to wait too long, try to schedule your bathroom usage during more non-peak times.

Changes in cabin pressure may cause your ostomy pouch to fill with gas. To prevent this, avoid carbonated beverages during the flight. If this does happen, just make your way to the restroom and empty or release the gas from your pouch.


What to pack

Traveling can have unexpected adventures that go along with it. Flights can be delayed; you can miss a connecting flight…etc. It may be helpful to plan for all types of situations. If you have prepared for these situations, you will be able to travel feeling more relaxed and at ease.

A week or two before your trip, begin taking an account of what supplies and how many you are using each day. Once you have that total, double it for your trip. This way you will be prepared for all outcomes.

If your trip requires a lot of walking, you may want to pack an ostomy belt to help keep your pouch in place throughout the day. If you are traveling to a warm or balmy climate, you may want to change your pouch more frequently if perspiration is causing the pouch to come unstuck.