Travel Advice for Colostomy Patients
There is no reason why you can't think about taking a holiday, even with an ostomy. There are a number of ways to approach this, but the best way may be by first taking short trips not too far from your locality.
Once you become comfortable with this, you can plan to take longer trips and have great fun without worry.
The most important thing you need to do is to make sure you have all the necessary ostomy supplies plus some.
So, whether you'll be traveling by road, boat, train, or plane, it is important to pack a travel bag filled with ostomy products that will last twice the time they'll be needed for.
Traveling By Road with an Ostomy
Traveling by road is not as hard as many patients with an ostomy believe it to be. The most important thing of all is being able to access toilet facilities along the way, which you will need for emptying your bags or changing your ostomy appliances.
Alternatively, though this may sound unpleasant, there is really nothing wrong with changing ostomy bags in the car, especially if the only other occupant is a partner, parent or child. It only takes a few minutes to change a bag once you’ve developed the knack for it, which you definitely will.
A stoma care product you must take along is an ostomy deodorant. Never forget that. Spraying a short spurt just before opening and when opened will make changing a colostomy bag bearable for the other occupants of the car.
And don’t forget to wind down the car windows for some much needed fresh air!
Traveling by Air and Rail
Traveling by air or by rail with an ostomy just requires adequate preparations.
That’s about all — prepare, especially for the unexpected!
Ostomy patients need to take with them adequate supplies, especially ostomy bags, cleaners and deodorants, and most importantly, disposal bags.
Some colostomy patients prefer to take closed bags along with them, but many prefer the ostomy bags that can be emptied because they neither like the idea of throwing them in the toilet bins of the aircraft nor feel comfortable with it.
You will surely have a preference because what works for you may not work for another. What is most important is to ensure you take more than adequate ostomy supplies with you on the flight, and even more for the time you'll spend away from home.
Your ostomy supplies can be divided up into different bags and put in your checked in luggage and in your hand luggage or handbag. This is strongly advised in case your checked-in suitcases gets misplaced or flights get delayed or canceled.
For the supplies carried in your hand luggage, all holes on the ostomy faceplates must be cut to size before leaving home because scissors and such items aren't allowed on any aircraft.
Patients oft are concerned about stoma bags expanding on flights due to the change in cabin air pressure. Ostomy bags do not expand on an aircraft during flight. Modern day ostomy bags have been produced and tested to withstand pressure changes, so ostomates can be assured that their bags will be fine. Any air or gas build up you encounter will likely be due to wind expelled from the digestive system.
This is a good reason for why you must stick to a simple nutritional diet a couple of days before travel by air.
Foods likely to give excessive wind includes (but not limited) dishes that contain the following:
- Baked beans
- Green beans
- Onion and garlic
- Avocado pear
- Brussels sprouts
- Sweet corn
There is really no special ostomy diet per say, but as a person with an ostomy, you should try as much as is possible to avoid certain foods anytime you are away from home.
Certain foods may give you a gas build-up and this will certainly cause embarrassing bag ballooning, and if you are not in a private area to release the trapped air (through filters fitted on bags), there will be a huge bulge through your clothing.
So if a particular food is causing gas problems, it should be avoided a couple of days before travel and if possible, throughout your holiday away from home.
While traveling by road, rail or air, it is also a good idea to avoid fizzy carbonated drinks. Most patients with a stoma will find that carbonated drinks, sparkling wines, and beer will cause excessive wind.
Traveling Overseas with a Stoma
If you are traveling overseas, depending on where you are visiting, you may need to investigate if and how ostomy conditions and circumstances are covered by travel insurance. Before leaving home, you should find out where you can get professional assistance if required (not very likely though) at your destination.
While on holidays you must remember that you can still partake in all the same fun activities you took part in before your surgery, including swimming and snorkeling. Try not to feel self-consciousness or develop low esteem. Remember, no one need ever know unless you tell them.
And if you feel self-conscious about leaving used ostomy bags in your hotel bathroom waste bin, you can use the public toilet bins in your hotel, provided you wrap and tightly knot the disposal bags before doing so.
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