Tips for travelling by plane

What to be aware of before and after you travel by plane with a stoma.

From blown-up pouches to hold ups in airport security. There are some scary stories going around when it comes to travelling by air with a stoma. But there is really no reason why your stoma should keep you from flying - and no, nothing is going to blow up.

Tips for travelling by plane

What to do before you fly

Well in advance of flying, you would want to check your travel insurance.

Make sure to take more supplies than you think you will need – at least 50% more, maybe even double the amount of bags and other products you would normally use for the same time period at home. It's good to have extra, just in case you have stomach problems or if you are stranded somewhere without access to supplies.

Pre-cut your bags

Divide your supplies between different pieces of luggage, in case your luggage is lost or the flight is delayed.

Take as much as you can in your hand luggage, but cut all of your bags to size before you fly, as you will usually not be allowed to take scissors in your hand luggage.

Take wipes instead of liquids

Scissors aren't the only things you can't take on the plane. Liquids and aerosol cans might also be prohibited - and that means you may not be allowed to bring accessories such as adhesive removers and creams unless they contain 100ml or less. Luckily most accessories also come as wipes, so remember to take lots of those in your hand luggage.

How to avoid trouble at the security check

Security staffers in general are usually very good at treating people with a stoma discreetly and respectfully, but perhaps it would be helpful to look up how to say "ostomy bag" in the local language.

The easiest way is to bring a travel certificate that explains your condition in different languages.

Before take-off

Try and arrive early at the gate, so you can change your bag just before boarding.

In the air

There is a slight risk that the change in cabin pressure will cause the ostomy bag to balloon. If this should happen all you need to do is go to the bathroom and empty or change your bag.

And remember that just as often ballooning is caused by something you eat or drink – so when you're flying be extra careful with fizzy drinks and foods that cause gas.

How to avoid smell and sound

It's a good idea to book a seat in the back row near the bathrooms. This way you will be able to quickly pop in to release wind in a private space if the bag starts to swell. Knowing you have this opportunity might help alleviate some of your concerns and make you feel more confident as well.

You might be a little self-conscious about sounds coming from your ostomy bag. However you may be pleasantly surprised by how noisy an airplane cabin is. Maybe you didn't notice it before, but it is very unlikely that your pouch can make noises loud enough to be heard inside the cabin.

Should you tell the cabin personnel?

There's no need to tell the cabin personnel about your stoma in advance (unless you think it would make you feel more secure), and most likely they'll never notice.

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