Ostomy abroad: What to bring and how to bring it
By Andie - Gali Ambassador
Have you wanted to travel but ostomy anxiety has you grounded? 😞 Never fear! You can kick that party-pooping anxiety to the curb, because traveling is possible. 🎉 More than that, it is relatively simple. I’ve traveled to Europe, Mexico, and Kenya with my bit of extra baggage and I want to share my tips and tricks for making the most of your adventures- starting with getting your feet off the ground and into the air!
Tips for Travel 🌍
1. Pack two supply bags. Why two? One should be smaller and consist of 2-3 complete sets of changes, whatever you use. I, personally, like to use a rectangular cosmetic bag (or a small toiletry bag) that can fit in a purse or backpack easily. This will be your day bag; the one you can carry on your person at all times for emergency changes but is not so cumbersome as to feel like you’re lugging around a pharmacy. The second bag should be bigger- the one I use zips open down the middle to reveal two zippered sides. This will be your complete travel bag that you will regularly use for changing your bag. I find that separating the different items into quart-sized sandwich bags works well for organization and keeping the supplies dry in the event your luggage gets wet.
2. Pack enough supplies for the number of travel days + two. So, if you’re going on vacation for 10 days, pack 12 changes in your regular-use bag (not counting the emergency daypack). Why? Honestly, as confident as I sound, my biggest fear is being in an airport or country and then running out of supplies- maybe I go a bit overboard. Have I ever used all of my supplies? No, not even in Kenya, not even close. Does it make me feel more confident and therefore comfortable? Yes, absolutely. Who wants to spend their adventure worrying about not having a place to poop? 😨🚽 Not this gal.
3. Carry-on all supplies and when going through TSA, place your supply bags in a separate bin. It’s always the scissors, or the spray, or the shear quantity of skin barrier wipes that always makes them go ‘hold up’ and unflatteringly unpack my bag all over the silver tables. Why not just check it? You can always buy new clothes if your luggage is lost, but chances are you can’t buy new supplies. I’ve gotten into the habit of pulling my supply bags out to save my packing and then notify the TSA agents that you have an ostomy (or medical device). Internationally, TSA agents may or may not have any clue what an ostomy is, pay for a stall or mastered the perfect squat for a hole in the ground, preparation is key to reducing anxiety and feeling comfortable in your new environment. 🙌 🏖️ ⛩️
For more information and tips on living with inflammatory bowel disease from the medical and patient communities, download the Gali friend for IBD mobile app and she will create a personalized feed of articles just for you!