People with an ostomy have travelled by bus, trains, planes automobiles and horseback; every mode of transportation. They have backpacked, toured, gone on safaris, hikes, and cruises.
Sometimes the first trip can be worrisome but with planning you will have a wonderful fun-filled holiday. You had your ostomy so you can enjoy life – now go do it!!
- Do not try a new type of pouching system just before you go on holiday
- Take twice as many supplies as you would usually use in the time you will be away
- Pack your supplies in your carry-on
- Precut your flanges or barrier, and pack your scissors in your checked baggage
- Keep your supplies in a cool spot (not in the trunk). A good suggestion is keeping your supplies in a cooler
- Always wear your seat belt across your hips not over your stoma
- 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
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 need to be presented to screening officers separately
Remember that this applies to travel within Canada or leaving Canada, but may differ outside of Canada.
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.
USA: see UOAA travel tips
Ostomy support while traveling
Ostomy travel cards may be helpful to explain what an ostomy is in different languages
- SecuriCare provides this printable card explaining an ostomy or continence device in several languages
- StomaWise offers an app that explains an ostomy in eight European languages
Talk to your Nurse Specialized in Wound, Ostomy & Continence (NSWOC) before you leave for a contact in your destination country.
To attend an ostomy meeting in the place you are visiting:
International Ostomy Association
For assistance from nurses with specialized knowledge about ostomy care:
World Council of ET
Please ask us any questions you might have about traveling with an ostomy.