Traveling with an Ostomy

, Traveling can be stressful for anyone. The combination of bustling crowds, random security checks, and the monotone voice over the intercom is enough to make even the most experienced traveler frazzled; add an ostomy bag in to the mix and it may be one long day!

I’ve traveled quite a bit in the last two years with my ostomy. I’ve had many different experiences, and have finally found a great routine that makes it very easy for me to brave the airports and airplanes.

I want to describe the two experiences I learned from the most. The first instance was 3 months after I had the surgery to create my ileostomy. I was flying from Chicago to Phoenix, and was extremely nervous. I had learned in an ostomy support group that the TSA is supposed to be aware of what an ostomy is. I figured that when I went through security I should tell the TSA that I had an ostomy, instead of risking being patted down. When I told one of the employees he pulled me aside and asked his colleague what an ostomy was. Neither knew, so they made me pat my stomach and tested my hands for any dangerous residue.

Traveling with an Ostomy

Traveling with an Ostomy

I learned 3 things from this experience. One, don’t tell the TSA you have an ostomy. I have no problems going through security if I don’t tell them about it. You’re more likely to be stopped if you do. Two, empty your ostomy before going through security so there is no visible bulge in your clothing. Three, this experience doesn’t have to be embarrassing. I find the best way to approach experiences like this is with patience, a big smile, and a quick, succinct explanation of what an ostomy is.

The second experience I learned from was when I was on the airplane. I had a three hour ride to my destination. One hour in, rather than bothering my seat mates, I decided to “burp” my two piece appliance because I had gas built up in my ostomy bag. I gently and discretely burped my ostomy and realized it wasn’t gas. I felt so silly for not going to the bathroom instead. I got up (even though the fasten seatbelt sign was on) and ran to the bathroom to clean up.

I learned three things from this experience as well. One, even if you think you don’t need to go to the bathroom in order to let out gas, go anyway! It’s better to be safe than sorry! Two, use odor neutralizing drops before traveling. It will make you less apprehensive about any odor that may come from emptying or releasing gas from your bag. Three, I always travel with a washcloth in my carryon just in case I have to clean up. Paper towels didn’t seem to do the trick for me.

Great supplies to keep in your carry on:

Read: Traveling with an Ostomy

About Robert Hill

I founded IDEAS Intestinal Disease Education and Awareness Society, from my home base in Vancouver, British Columbia. Intestinal Disease Education and Awareness Society IDEAS is established to raise public awareness of intestinal diseases in order to help remove the stigmas associated with these illnesses. The programs of IDEAS help children, youth and young adults learn to live full lives, find acceptance and gain confidence.

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