Travel Tips

Travelling with an ostomy.
Travelling can be an exciting new adventure, and an ostomy need not hold you back from living life to the fullest. Taking specific steps in your planning will help you have an enjoyable vacation!

General guidelines

  • Do not try a new type of pouching system just before going on holiday.
  • Take twice as many supplies as you would usually use in the time you will be away. This includes any supplies and accessories you may need.
  • Pack your supplies in your carry-on and precut your flanges or barrier(Pack your scissors in your checked baggage.

Car travel

  • Keep your supplies in a cool spot like in a cooler (not in the trunk)
  • Always wear your seat belt across your hips, not over your stoma.
  • Wear a larger ostomy pouch for longer trips. This can include a leg bag for urostomies or a high output bag for ileostomies.

Air Travel

  • An aisle seat close to the washroom may be more convenient.
  • The pouch will not “blow up” because the cabin is pressurized.
  • Some people (with or without an ostomy) experience more gas when flying due to not moving around as much, drinking carbonated beverages, drinking with a straw, eating too quickly, or eating gassy foods.

Carry-on in Canada

Health Canada makes special exceptions for travelling with medical devices:
  • Carry-on limits do not apply to medical supplies – you may bring another bag for your ostomy supplies.
  • Ostomy paste tubes may exceed the liquid/gel maximum but must be presented to screening officers separately.
  • Remember that this applies to travel within Canada or leaving Canada but may differ outside Canada.

Going through airport security

Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) provides information about going through airport security with an ostomy in Canada:
  • Passengers with an ostomy pouch should tell the screening officer before the screening process begins.
  • Liquids, gels or aerosols must be in containers smaller than 100 ml in your carry-on and put into a 1L clear plastic bag. You can pack any size in your checked baggage.
  • Use the Family/Special Needs security line, where screening officers are trained to provide additional assistance.

For more information, visit http://www.catsa.gc.ca/medication-and-medical-items
Remember that each country may have different regulations for going through security.

Ostomy support while travelling

Ostomy travel cards may be helpful to explain what an ostomy is in different languages.

Talk to your NSWOC before you leave for a contact in your destination country.

Camping and hiking with an ostomy

  • Dispose of ostomy supplies along with other non-biodegradable garbage. Pack extra plastic bags for this purpose.
  • Your hydration needs may be more significant, so plan for adequate safe water sources.
  • An extra small pocket flashlight (something you can hold in your mouth, so your hands are free) or a camping headlight can be handy if you have to take care of things in the dark.
Source: A Handbook for New Ostomy Patients. Used with permission from Debra Rooney, Vancouver Ostomy Chapter.
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