Tips for Traveling Abroad with a Colostomy

Jun 23, 2018 9:38 am


Finishing FOLOX (fingers crossed) early August.

Hoping to head off on a trip in early September. Any tips regarding plane travel, changing bags (still notoriously unpredictable because of chemo) in planes, and coping with heat?

Thanks, Soc40

Jun 23, 2018 12:33 pm

Search Cinderella's first trip abroad. Airplane restrooms are very small, try to board with an empty bag. For how long and how far?

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Past Member
Jun 24, 2018 12:34 am

I've flown all over North America and done many overseas trips with no issues. Day or day before flight, I put on a new appliance, because who knows, you might get stuck on a longer than expected layover, God knows where. If you're flying in coach, when they start boarding, go hit the washroom to empty. You'll be one of the last to board, which is perfect. If you're flying first class, I board first, get comfy, then hit the washroom on the plane before taxi out. During takeoff and landing is when you can't leave your seat, so you need to plan for that. Also, wherever you are going, always bring double your supplies. Can't buy our stuff at the corner store, ya know? And don't check your supplies, bring them on your carry-on... Baggage gets lost all the time. When landing, keep an eye on the air-show/time to destination. Make sure you empty once the descent starts, so you'll be okay for the landing/taxi portion when you can't get up.

If you do need to do an emergency bag change, remember it doesn't have to be perfect, wherever you are... and it's certainly not going to be if done perfectly in a confined moving space, lol. Just clean up whatever mess, slap a new one on, and do a proper change at the next opportunity like in a larger airport bathroom. Long haul flights, the bathrooms don't seem to be so small, either.

And no scissors on board! If you need to cut your flange to fit right, make sure you prep a couple flanges for your carry-on. Also, there are no restrictions on liquids/pastes for medical reasons.

As for heat, if I sweat/exercise a lot, it just brings my wear time from 4 days to 3.


Jun 24, 2018 2:00 am

If you can, try to get an aisle seat if you're in economy/coach.


Jun 24, 2018 5:58 am

Hello Soc40. You have some good advice above. I've just come back from a round-trip from the UK to New Zealand (you cannot go any further!) and, apart from the discomfort which everyone suffers on such a long journey, I had no problems. (apart from the fact that they confiscated my scissors! but that was my fault becuse I forget to pack them in my hold-luggage.) 

Have a good trip


Staying Hydrated with an Ostomy with LeeAnne Hayden | Hollister
Jun 24, 2018 6:02 am

Get on the TSA website and download their special form for those of us who have appliances. You can print it out and put it in your passport or with your license. They will do a different kind of pat down on you. It makes things much easier.

Jun 24, 2018 8:05 am

Thanks for replying!

Only two hours to France plus time getting off plane or delays sitting on tarmac.

I don't want to bottle out of this even though I feel like abandoning the trip!


Jun 25, 2018 12:35 pm

Hi Soc40, go for it, it will be great for you emotionally. You need to get back to your normal life. Treatments, surgery, and coping with the adjustment to this new way of life takes its toll, and this physical and mental respite will do wonders for your morale. The above responses have given you great advice. I have traveled many times from the U.S.A. to the U.K. since Rosie came into my life. I watch what I eat for about 24 hrs before starting with a new base and pouch. I make a quick trip to the bathroom before boarding (I always) keep an emergency kit, precut wafer/base, pouch wipes, and doggie poo bags for disposal in my handbag at all times. Extra when traveling. I tell security before going through that I am an ostomies patient. I also have a card. I have never had a problem. They may ask you to rub your hand over your pouch, then they will swab your hand. They are not to be permitted to touch your pouch. Most of all, you need to relax and just enjoy yourself. Stress will do a number on the tummy, even those without an ostomies. Have a great trip.

Jun 26, 2018 3:23 am

Hi, you got some wonderful advice. I've had my ileostomy for more than 50 years, since I was a teenager, and I was like a bird freed from a cage. I gave no thought at all to the ostomy.....just wanted to live life and do what my friends did. I actually went to "camp" and showered with everyone, but wore support panties, and told everyone I had a hernia. If I had to change, I did it late at night, while all the campers were otherwise occupied. I even did it in the dark, by the light of my flashlight.....with the bees buzzing around. By the time I was 20....I had tried almost everything I'd wanted to do when I was younger and sick....and couldn't do. Eventually, I married, had children, finished college, and then sadly divorced. But my teaching schedule gave me the opportunity and time to travel extensively.....Here in the US in a private plane with no bathroom, cruising the Caribbean, touring Europe, and then the more exotic destinations to China, Japan, Israel, and South Africa. I've been to Australia 7 times, to visit my son and his family who live there. I snorkeled on the Great Barrier Reef.....which has been a highlight of my travels. In all the times I've traveled, I only had to change once on board. I always pack all my supplies in the carry-on, but I also keep enough for a few changes in my tote bag, so I don't have to hunt for them in the overhead. I always carry tape with me, which is great for emergencies. I only had a major issue once......swimming in the Dead Sea. The very salty water made my pouch pop off. I had a mess in the dressing room, but a shower and my handy tape saved the day... Best wishes to anyone planning an adventure... You can deal with anything that "comes up" or "comes off"... Marsha.