tips for travelling by plane with an ostomy

Tips for flying

What to be aware of before and after you travel by plane with an ostomy.

Enjoy traveling? There is no reason why your ostomy should keep you from flying worry free.

prepare for travelling with an ostomy

What to do before you fly

Make sure to bring more supplies than you think you need – at least 50% more, maybe even double the amount of pouches etc. you would use for the same time period at home just in case you have stomach problems or if you are stranded somewhere without access to supplies. You will be glad you have extras.

Pre-cut your barriers (with a scissors)

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 barrier, you may want to cut your barriers before travling.

Bring wipes instead of liquids

Scissors are not the only things you can't bring on to plane. Liquids and aerosol cans might be also prohibited - and 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 hand luggage.

Travel certificate can be helpful at the airport security check

How to avoid trouble at the security check

Airport security (TSA) are usually very good at treating people with an ostomy discreetly and respectfully, but perhaps it would be helpful to look up how to say "ostomy pouch" in the local language.

The easiest way is to bring a travel certificate that explains your condition in different languages.

Before take-off

Plan to arrive early so you will have plenty of time to empty your pouch prior to boarding.

ostomy pouch can balloon while travelling by plane

While you're in the air

There is a slight risk that the change in cabin pressure will cause the pouch to balloon. If this should happen all you need to do is go to the bathroom and empty or release the gas from your pouch.

And remember that just as often ballooning is caused by something you eat or drink – so when you're flying be extra careful with carbonated drinks and foods that cause gas.

If it makes you feel better, you could reserve a seat near the bathrooms. This way you will have easier access should you need to 'burp' or empty your pouch. Knowing the bathroom is close-by may help to alleviate some of your concerns and make you feel more confident as well.

You might be a little self-conscious about sounds from the pouch. In that case you will be pleasantly surprised by how noisy an airplane cabin is. Maybe you didn't notice it before, but it is very unlikely that your pouch can make noises loud enough to be heard in the cabin.

Should you tell the Flight Attendants?

There's no need to tell the Flight Attendants about your ostomy in advance (unless you think it would make you feel more secure).

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