Travelling Abroad With My Stoma For The First Time

Travelling Abroad With My Stoma For The First Time. I have been to Spain for a weeks family holiday and it is the first time I have travelled abroad in heat since my Stoma surgery in November. So what do I need to take with me and pack? I don’t only have to pack my normal clothing but also need to pack my stoma supplies and pain medication for the just incase moments. I will also be writing about my experience with my stoma and the week abroad.

Travelling Abroad With My Stoma For The First Time

Travelling abroad can be daunting but exciting even without a stoma and just with Crohns disease due to the possibility of your illness raising it’s head. From the ages of 19-24 I travelled frequently with a stoma bag covering my fistula to cover output that was on a constant drip. I had a rather horrendous experience at Gatwick airport on my 21st birthday and had to show my tummy and explain what it was. I was rather neurotic about travelling this time with a ileostomy and all the supplies I needed to get through the week, not to mention the panic about wearing a bikini and having my bag and scarred belly on show.

The Friday before travelling and packing I had a check list of stoma supplies and my emergency carry on kit all packed. You can get a medical letter from your stoma nurse and GP to explain what your stuff is and to allow you to carry it all on the plane. I chose to not do this as don’t like drawing any more attention to myself. I carried all my pre-cut supplies in my hand luggage and packed my sprays in the suitcase. It didn’t get checked at all and the only one to set off the security alarm was my daughter who had a delightful time getting swabbed and scanned by the security team at Gatwick.

One of the most common questions asked in support groups are will my bag blow up or explode on the plane. I can tell you now that travelling on the plane won’t affect your bag at all. It stayed the same and behaved as per normal.

Start of Holiday week

Getting to Spain without receiving a pat down or a what’s that under your top I mentally high fived myself. I get to the Hotel but we can’t check in until 1pm so have a few hours to go exploring once the cases have been delivered safely to the locked room. Emergency kit is in my boyfriends carry on bag and off we go.

We finally get checked in at 1 pm and thank god because I had a rather grouchy 7 year old due to travelling from 3 am that morning. I got straight into my high waisted Bikini , had a few doubting myself moments and got shuffled out of the door down to the pool by a hyper boyfriend and 7 year old as I looked fine and shouldn’t worry.

I can honestly say that the whole week was delightful. One lady asked me what I had wrong with me, I explained briefly about my Crohns and she said in a typical mum perspective I should give her daughter lessons in how to not complain about silly things. No one bugged me or said I was disgusting for swimming with an ostomy so that has boosted my confidence some what.

Swimming with an ostomy

First day of swimming my base plate only held up until 4 pm as had the bag on for 3 days prior and all the bending and travelling had compromised it. I changed daily as didn’t like the sticky feeling. I will also be learning how to use baseplate extenders for any further swimming trips after a great tip from rocking2stomas.

We went on a dolphin boat trip and I was being too much of a wuss to try swimming off of the boat as I forgot my travel kit and it was sitting at the hotel a good hour away and didn’t want to ruin the day out by a leaky bag.

The chlorine affected my skin where the base plate became loose but the bags still stuck down fine and the chlorine rash has now gone.

Lessons learned about sun cream

I haven’t had a blow out or a leak on my bag or base plate since April but come the Tuesday evening my bags were refusing to stick and I had to use my Comfizz belt to hold the bag down and secure it. I removed this before bed and woke up at 1 am with a leaking bag, luckily this only got my t-shirt and I cleaned my skin and put on another bag. Woke up at 3:30 am with a puddle in my hand a missing stoma bag…… yep the bastard had slid off completely and got the bed sheets and my hand got the pillow. Cue me phaffing about for an hour and washing my clothes out with travel detergent in the sink to prevent staining. Finally got the bag to stick and shared Ben’s side of the bed after he had stripped my side bless his heart. The next morning Ben made a dash to the maids cleaning trolly, explained what had happened and we came back to clean bed linen in the afternoon. I was on a online ban for the week but messaged the show girls to see if they could help. They helped me immensely. When you shower before a bag change you need to make sure that all sun cream residue is washed off properly and don’t use aftersun until you have completed a bag change as the moisture affects the skin and base plate sticking (lesson learned).

Eating abroad with an ostomy

My stomach prior to the ostomy surgery was always bad on holiday, bunged up, feeling sick and constipation was always a regular week long after affect of hot climates. Having an ostomy I didn’t have any of this and it was bloody fantastic. I stuffed my face with sea food and the continental meats and pasta and had no long lasting after affects (I love my stoma). I kept my alcohol intake to a just a merry kind of deal as I hate hang overs.

Summary

My week on holiday was greatly needed and a break from online activities has refreshed my brain and I have caught up on some much needed R&R time with my boyfriend and daughter without my phone beeping or ringing. I over packed on stoma supplies and came home with 6 spares but it’s always better to be prepared than understocked. People really don’t care if you have a stoma bag on show, as long as your confident and own it people don’t take a blind bit of notice of what is on your tummy. Travelling abroad is not any different to travelling at home. My first experience has been a great one and long may it continue.

Please feel free to leave any comments and share your experiences

Lastly, I have made up a free printable holiday check list for your packing of stoma supplies. Just click on the image below!

 

 

 

 

8 Comments
  1. That’s fantastic glad you enjoyed your holiday I am due to go Tenerife in October fingers crossed I beat this pain or at least control the damn thing

    I have taken the sun cream residue on board and will remember this for my holiday 👍🏼

    • I had a great time. Yes the sun cream residue was the worst part of the holiday other than that I had a brilliant time. So sorry to hear they still haven’t located the source of the pain. Fingers crossed it gets sorted before your holiday.
      Hoping when the time comes you enjoy your holiday and have fun. I’m pretty sure you will.

      Louise xx

  2. I went on my first ever proper holiday a few months ago, and the first time I’d been anywhere with a stoma. I wish I’d have read something like this prior to going so thank you for sharing, it’s great to get a personal opinion from a first hand experience! I’m sorry you had to deal with a chlorine rash; fortunately I didn’t get that, but I did struggle a little with food. I’m a picky-ish eater anyway and stuck to fairly plain, basic foods while on hol (Spain) because my stoma doesn’t seem to like any meat other than chicken right now and I found it doesn’t much care for cucumber (noooo!) but thankfully those problems resolved after plenty of water. I found it straightforward getting through security too – shame about your poor daughter not being so fortunate! x

    • Hi Caz,

      Thank you for taking the time to read my experience.Chlorine rash was fine, it cleared up with some barrier cream and keeping a close eye. My daughter found it rather amusing and fun bless her. I also stuck to the basics and got rather frustrated with the food choices so stuck to cheese and ham or seafood when eating out. Had some lovely seafood pasta and monk fish whilst there. I also came back sporting a bloated belly due to eating bread which I don’t normally do but had to eat something. Glad to hear you had a positive experience too.

      Louise xx

  3. This gives me hope I can cope abroad soon. The list is a great idea.

    • Thank you for taking the time to read and hoping the list is of some help when you travel abroad

      Louise

  4. I have UC but no ostomy and so far so good till now no surgery. Your story feels so good and positive! It’s that feeling we need to spread … it’s not the end to wear ‘a bag’. It’s the kind of story I (and a lot of people with me) need to hear because we never know what the future brings with IBD …

  5. I have had a colostomy and urostomy for 20 years. In that period I have been to India, Egypt, Morocco, South Africa, US and some European countries. My advice is always to take more than sufficient supplies and to take as many as possible as hand luggage. I have had a suitcase go missing with all my supplies, which caused anxiety until they showed up a few hours later. It is possible to find supplies abroad but it is time-consuming and expensive. Your usual brand may well not be available. A box of urostomy bags 3 years ago cost £130 in France, which was, however, reimbursed three months later by the NHS (will Brexit change that?).

    Clean facilities for changing bags are highly desirable. I had no problems in the US, South Africa, Morocco or Europe. But once you are confident with your bag or bags you can manage anything in an emergency.

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