Traveling when you have an ileostomy
All methods of travel are open to you. Many people with ileostomies travel just like everyone else; this includes camping trips, cruises, and air travel. Here are some travel tips:
- Take along enough supplies to last the entire trip plus some extras. Double what you think you may need, because supplies may not be easy to get where you’re going. Even if you don’t expect to change your pouch take along everything you need to do so. Plastic bags with sealable tops may be used for pouch disposal. Leave home fully prepared. Find out if and where you can get supplies before a long trip. A local ostomy support group may be able to help you find ostomy supplies and local medical professionals.
- Seat belts will not harm the stoma when adjusted comfortably.
- When traveling by car, keep your supplies in the coolest part of the car. Avoid the trunk or back window ledge.
- When traveling by plane, remember that checked-in luggage sometimes gets lost. Carry an extra pouching system and other supplies on the plane with you. Small cosmetic bags or shaving kits with plastic linings work well. These should be kept in your carry-on bag. Air travel security will generally let you take on all medical supplies. You may want to review the Transportation Security Administration’s information at: www.tsa.dhs.gov/travelers/airtravel/specialneeds/index.shtm
- To avoid problems with customs or luggage inspection, have a note from your doctor stating that you need to carry ostomy supplies and medicine by hand. Further problems might be avoided by having this information translated into the languages of the countries you are visiting.
- Before traveling abroad, get a current list of English-speaking doctors in the areas you’ll be visiting. The International Association for Medical Assistance to Travelers (IAMAT) at 716-754-4883 or www.iamat.org publishes lists of English speaking doctors who were trained in North America or Europe and are available in many countries around the world.
- Traveler’s diarrhea is a common problem for tourists in foreign countries, whether you have an ostomy or not. The most common cause of diarrhea is impure water and/or food. It may also be caused by changes in water, food, or climate. Don’t eat unpeeled fruits and raw vegetables. Be sure drinking water is safe. If the water isn’t safe, don’t use the ice either. Bottled water or boiled water is recommended, even for brushing your teeth. People with ileostomies lose water and minerals quickly when they have diarrhea. (See “Electrolyte balance” in Avoiding and Managing Ileostomy Problems.) For this reason you may need medicine to stop the fluid and electrolyte loss. Your doctor can give you a prescription to control diarrhea. Get it filled before you leave so that you can take the medicine with you just in case you need it.
- What is an ileostomy?
- How your digestive system works
- Types of ileostomies
- Managing your ileostomy
- Choosing an ileostomy pouching system
- Emptying and changing the ileostomy pouching system
- Ordering and storing ileostomy supplies
- Caring for an ileostomy
- Avoiding and managing ileostomy problems
- If you are hospitalized while you have an ileostomy
- Living with an ileostomy
- Telling others about your ileostomy
- What to wear when you have an ileostomy
- Eating and digestion with a ileostomy
- Returning to work after getting an ileostomy
- Intimacy and sexuality when you have an ileostomy
- Playing sports and staying active with an ileostomy
- Traveling when you have an ileostomy
- For parents of children with ileostomies
- Getting help, information, and support
- To learn more
In its original form this document was written by the United Ostomy Association, Inc. (1962-2005) and reviewed by Jan Clark, RNET, CWOCN and Peg Grover, RNET. It has since been modified and updated by:
Last Medical Review: December 2, 2014 Last Revised: December 2, 2014