Travelling With A Stoma

What to consider before travelling with a stoma

Originally published on: November 16th, 2017. Last modified on June 8th, 2022

Having a stoma shouldn’t limit your ability to travel in the UK or abroad. It may just take a little more forward planning. The Colostomy Association have developed a useful guide on travelling with a stoma. Here are our top tips.

Make sure you have enough supplies

This may sound obvious but you will also need to take into consideration that a change of climate could require you to change your pouches more regularly. Heat can cause pouches to become unstuck and a change of diet can cause constipation or an upset stomach.

It is probably worth taking at least double the amount you would normally use. Remember that your ostomy supplier may need a couple of weeks to deliver your supplies so order them in plenty of time.

Pack your ostomy supplies in hand luggage

If the worst happens and your suitcase goes missing at least you will have your ostomy supplies. It can be very difficult and expensive to get hold of additional supplies in a foreign country. It would be worth asking your airline if you can have extra hand luggage, which they can give in certain medical situations.

Adhesive removal wipes may be better to take than sprays, and remember any liquid sprays need to be 100ml or less for hand luggage and contained in a clear plastic bag. It is worth having worth bags pre-cut as you cannot take scissors in hand luggage.

RADAR key and Just Can’t Wait Card

If you’re travelling in the UK a RADAR key can give you access to accessible toilet facilities so that you can feel confident changing your ostomy bag out and about. You can obtain a RADAR key free by signing up to the Bladder & Bowel Home Delivery Service.

We all know that embarrassing leaks can happen from time to time and our ‘Just Can’t Wait’ card can help you access a toilet quickly and explain to someone discreetly that you need to use a toilet urgently. Our ‘Just Can’t Wait’ card is now available as a digital card for your smartphone wallet, to ensure you always have your toilet card at easy reach!

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Travel Insurance with a Stoma

Make sure that you take appropriate travel insurance with appropriate cover for your condition. Some people may need to have treatment whilst abroad and which might need to be arranged in advance, such as dialysis. It is important to declare any health conditions and your stoma to your travel insurance company so that they can provide the right level of cover for you.

EHIC and GHIC Cards (Health Insurance Cards)

You can carry the EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) or GHIC (Global Health Insurance Card) if travelling abroad in case you need any urgent medical care whilst you’re away.

If you already have an EHIC card, it will be valid until the expiry date, after which you’ll need to apply for the New EHIC Card or a GHIC depending on your individual circumstances. This means you’ll be able to access healthcare for the same cost as residents of that country, otherwise you’ll have to pay in full. You will also need Travel Insurance though, as this is specific to healthcare.

The EHIC and GHIC are not universal – do check for full details.

You can apply for a New EHIC or GHIC card via the NHS website


Use bottled water

To avoid stomach upsets it is best to drink bottled water and irrigate with bottled water. It may be worth taking a travel kettle so that you can warm up the bottled water.

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