Travel Tips for Ostomates
Many reasons may prevent you from traveling but, for most of us, having an ostomy should not be one of them.
Before you leave Home
- Make sure the expiration date on your passport is at least 3 months after your expected date to arrive back home. Check to see if you need a visa to enter the country you are visiting well before you leave
- Consider the "must go now" advantage of booking an aisle seat on the plane, train or bus
- If you do not have out of province/country medical insurance consider doing so. Many of our banks and reputable organizagtions such as Blue Cross offer these services. Coverage can be purchased on a single trip or fixed time basis such as annually
- Take twice the ostomy supplies you would normally use. Some travelers split these supplies between their checked and carry on luggage while others like to take them all in their carry on. Also, you may want to include plastic bags for disposal which may not be readily available
- If you cut your own pouches, you may want to consider pre-cutting at least a few. Scissors with blades up to 6 cm. in length (aprox 3.375") are currently allowed on most Canadian flights. The US currently allows a blade lengh of 4" (written Jan. 2017). It is suggested that scissors be kept close at hand and placed in the same trays with liquids and gels etc.
- As well as having ostomy supplies in your carry on luggage, consider the advantage of having a "plane" ostomy bag. It can be very useful if you need to urgently use a tiny washroom on a plane, train or bus that contains just 1 of everything you might need to change your pouch one time. If possible, let an attendant know why the washroom will be occupied for longer than usual
- You may wish to make a note of the ostomy products you use including manufacturers name, product numbers, web address and contact info. Things happen!
- When traveling to a foreign country I always pack a copy of the pouch and seal information and application instructions with my supplies. Security personnel that don't speak English or know what an ostomy is can find diagrams a great help in understanding what you are trying to tell them. In addition, I've found the word "medic" is almost always understood
- A good practice is to leave trip information with family or a friend including a copy of your passport information page which includes the number, issue and expiry date of the passport; you might be glad to have done so if you lose it or someone "borrows" the passport. In addition, you may wish to leave your name and address on a business size card and put one in every carry on or checked bag. In this way the airline/train/bus company has a way to contact you if your bag is lost and the name tag gets separated
- Getting to the airport, train or bus station a little bit early rather than late is a very good idea
After you arrive at the airport, train or bus station
- Empty your pouch before going through security. It is no use attracting attention to suspicious bulges given that most don't have a bulge where you sometimes do
- Keep in mind that security personnel are there for your security - be pleasant and helpful. Remember that all the old security measures in place (removing shoes, gels and liquid limits, the scissor thing) were put in place in response to terrorist actions. If you find yet another caution don't grumble, be grateful. After all, security personnel have more up to date information than you do on possible new threats. BE COURTEOUS, PLEASANT AND HELPFUL
- Avoid body scans if possible. After all, you are going to be patted down anyway after going thru the scan. Whether you're randomly selected or not, advise the "patter" that you have an ostomy and wear a pouch. Guide his or her hands to the location if appropriate. Your co-operation and pleasant demeanour will be rewarded and you will move through the line quickly ... Bon Voyage!