tips from the ostomate for flying with an ostomy

Ken: Air travel with a stoma

Read Ken's tips for flying with a stoma.

I have learnt a few ways to overcome the possible hiccups of travelling with an ostomy. I suppose initially the prospect of being frisked at security was the most terrifying thing. The first time it happened was at a small airport in Greece.

A security guard frisked me because I had set off the alarm for some reason. He physically leapt back a couple of feet when he touched my ostomy area.

Gave him my certificate

I have a certificate in 10 languages, which explains about the ostomy and the medical condition. I handed this over and the guard read the Greek version. They just need to verify that the bag is in place and genuine.

I was taken to a private room where I could show them I was not carrying anything more sinister than a soft skin-coloured bag.

A fresh bag for the journey

We tend to travel to the airport the day before the flight and stop in a hotel with parking. There I always change my bag and baseplate, so that it's a fresh one for the journey.

changing the ostomy pouch right before the trip can help you feel comfortable

First: A trip to the toilet

After take-off the bag usually balloons a little, I assume because of cabin pressure variation. As soon as the seat belt signs go out I go to the toilet and open the bag's drainable outlet. This equalises the pressure and eases any problems that might occur.

The toilets are also quite clean at this point in the flight so much more pleasant to do anything you might need to do. Don't try swinging a cat in there though definitely not enough space for that!

Medical supplies don't count as hand luggage

Most airlines will allow you to carry on a separate bag of medical supplies and not include this in your cabin baggage weight allowance. You can check this in the small print of the airlines terms and conditions.

consider having ostomy supplies in the hand luggage

Bring it all with you

I would definitely recommend that you carry with you all the supplies you need for the duration of your holiday.

If your hold baggage gets lost or sent to somewhere else then it can be very stressful trying to get supplies sent to your destination.

Insurance means peace of mind

I think it's important to disclose your condition to your chosen travel insurance company. It usually means paying a little more but brings peace of mind when abroad.

I find these days that the last thing on my mind when I anticipate travel abroad is my ostomy. That's not to say that it was not a big concern initially but it has diminished as a worry as I've become more organised and practiced at it.

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