So, I recently had my first overnight trip since having a stoma and I thought I’d share a couple of things that I learnt on the way about travelling with an ostomy.
First things first; Packing. I’m always worried when I have to stay overnight somewhere in case I don’t pack enough of something or completely forget to pack the thing altogether, so I tend to make a list of things I’ll need. The list consisted of the usual “underwear, socks, toothbrush” ect. but this time, I had to consider how many times I’d need to change my bag whilst away from home. I change my bag every other day and, thankfully, it worked out that I’d only need to change my bag once while away. However, me being me, I didn’t just pack one bag. No, I packed three; one to change into and the other two were spares. I realise this was a little excessive but the last thing I wanted was for my current bag to leak or get damaged and be unable to do anything about it. So, my advise on this is always bring spares. Even if you’re only staying one night, bring spare bags and cleaning supplies. I’d say for a longer stay, pack twice the amount of supplies you expect to need. That way, if something goes wrong (you’re flights delayed, you missed the last train ect) and you have to stay longer, you know you won’t run out.
Second is emptying your bag before you set out. We travelled by train for this trip and the journey was around three to four hours each way with one change. Knowing that on-board toilets are usually small, cramped and, a lot of the time, unclean, I didn’t really want to have to empty my bag in one. So, I made a point of emptying my bag before we left to go the train station. Obviously, I couldn’t avoid emptying my bag at least once during this trip so I made sure to check we’d have enough time between trains for me to go the toilets at the station. Thankfully, we had about half an hour until our connecting train arrived. If you can, this is probably the best time to empty your bag because then you won’t have to worry about it during the next stretch of your journey.
Something to point out; some UK train station will charge you something like 20p to use the toilets but the disabled ones are accessible with a Radar Key. It is also worth noting that the disabled toilets may not be as clean as you’d expect. I found this out the hard way; someone had had an accident and no one had got around to cleaning it up yet. So, the moral of this story is if you can use a normal cubicle to empty your bag, it’s probably worth the 20p to not risk getting someone elses accident on your shoes.
Thirdly, take an emergency kit with you wherever you go. I have found I feel a lot more confident when I go out because I know I’ve got my emergency kit with me. It’s not a big kit, consisting of a bag, cleaning supplies and a compact mirror. All of this goes neatly into a make-up bag that, in turn, fits nicely into my handbag. It’s discreet and gives you peace of mind, if nothing else. I’ll be sure to make another post about exactly what I’ve got in mine.
Lastly, travelling abroad. I have yet to travel abroad with my ostomy so I can’t really give advise on this one. However, there are loads of articles and tips available online. If in doubt, ask your Stoma nurse or GP before booking anything. Happy travelling!