By Holly Leonidoff BSN, RN, CWOCN
Post covid has many of us thinking of summer travel and vacations. For an ostomate, those simple travel plans take on another layer of planning. Will I have enough supplies? What if I have an issue while I am at the airport or in-flight? What do I do, and who can I call if I’m having an issue?
Here are some tips for air travel that help address some of the most common concerns that a new or established ostomate faces:
Opt for an aisle seat closer to the bathrooms in case you need to empty your pouch on the airplane.
Take at least 2 sets of pouching change items with you in a carry-on bag. Try to use pre-cut wafers to avoid security issues with carrying scissors on your flight. Pack an extra shirt in your carry-on in case of any mishap. Adhesive/ skin prep spray should be fine, clearing security as long as you place it in a clear baggie and the contents are under 100ml.
Expect a pat-down by TSA, as the scanners often detect the pouch. Consider applying for TSA pre-check to make things go smoother through security. (TSA Pre-Check Application)
Print an invisible disability card/ Gotta go card found on the United Ostomy Association of America (UOAA) website or request a note from your MD to help any TSA or airport staff understand your situation.
Hydrate prior to and during your flight with an ORS (oral replacement solution) to help replace electrolytes and prevent cramps or tiredness associated with even mild dehydration. An ORS can be purchased as powder sticks or tablets to dissolve in water for portability.
Snack on pretzels and crackers. If you have an ileostomy, you may need to ask your physician about taking an anti-diarrhea tablet prior to boarding to slow the output while traveling.
An ostomate can purchase “wick waste” or use a cloth baby bib to place under/around the bottom of the ostomy to prevent sweating and heat on the abdomen and give a sense of an extra layer of protection if a leak occurs.
Remember that tap water has a different mineral content depending on where you are. Hard water can leave a film on the skin, and soft water can leave the skin feeling slicker. Airport or hotel water may be different than the water at home and can affect the wear time by affecting appliance adhesion to the skin.
Keep the name and number of your DME/distributor on your phone in case of emergency supply needs. Most distributors can overnight supplies in the US if needed.
Relax, and enjoy your trip. A little planning and forethought can make travel much easier!
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