Traveling With an Ostomy

Traveling with an OstomyTraveling with an ostomy isn’t much different than traveling without one.  You just need to make sure you go prepared.

First, and maybe most important, make sure you have twice the amount of appliances you usually use packed.  No matter how you travel keep at least one emergency appliance with you at all times.  Keep one change of appliance within hand’s reach at all times and put the rest in your carry on bag or the bag you take into your motel if traveling by car.

Keep a legible list of all of your ostomy appliances with you at all times – I don’t care if it’s just going to the grocery store; keep it with you and keep it updated. If you are in a strange area or lose your appliances it’s important that you know what you use to make a replacement.

Ostomy appliances melt when they get too warm so don’t store them in a hot car when traveling.  In the car keep them in the air conditioning not the trunk.  Take them out when you stop for the night or reach your destination. I’ve had them melt in my purse or emergency kit too so make sure you check that appliance out frequently to make sure it’s still in tact.

Persons that still irrigate their colostomy should make sure they take a clothes hanger or some device they can hang the bag of water from.  Motels don’t always have hangers in the rooms and  if you stay with friends or family you don’t want to be an inconvenience to them.

A difference in altitude can make traveling with an ostomy interesting. Going from a low altitude to a higher one can sometimes make an ostomy more gassy for some people.  We recently came from central Florida to central Wisconsin and that didn’t change anything too much.  We used to live in Wisconsin and would travel to the mountains of Colorado and that would cause some pouches full of gas for me that really made me glad is wasn’t helium.  Something like GasEx would sometimes help relieve the gas pressure but not always.

Difference in temperature and humidity can take their toll on appliance wear time too. When traveling with an ostomy and going from a dryer to a more humid climate make double sure you have enough supplies.  More humidity can decrease your wear time by half in some cases.  There’s also a bigger chance of a yeast infection starting under your appliance. Going from a humid to a more dry climate can cause dry skin under the appliance and that, too, can decrease your wear time.  Be sure to be more attentive to any changes or leaks that might develop in either case.

I have traveled all over the country with “Ralphie” and have been on several cruises and only run into problems when I’m not careful about what I pack.  The first trip I went on with my family after surgery in 1982 was from Wisconsin to Montana for a family gathering.  I’d only had surgery about five months before the trip and my stoma had just begun to shrink.  When I packed my supplies I made sure I had enough for the 10 day trip.  Smart thinking, right? Well it would have been but I discovered to my chagrin that I had packed one size pouch and one size wafer.  I was able to find replacement supplies at a local emergency room but they charged me $30.00 for two appliances because they didn’t have either the pouch or wafer size I used.  They had me as a captive audience and were the only place for 100 miles that I could even get an appliance at. A word to the wise; if you have recently changed size or type of appliance you use double check what’s in your bag before you leave home.  A little forethought is better than ‘oh crap’!

Happy travels fellow ostomates. We are still enjoying Wisconsin weather and my ostomy and I are getting along just fine for the moment.  We will travel back to Florida soon but it’s dryer there too this time of year so I shouldn’t have any problems getting back into the swing of things once I get home.  Traveling with an ostomy is now no more inconvenient than putting on my glasses in the morning or taking them off at night.

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