From Stillwater-Ponca City (OK) Ostomy Outlook May 1996:

Traveling with an Ostomy

from Metro Maryland Chapter, via Ostomy Association of Greater Springfield (MA) NEWSNOTES

All methods are available to you. Many people with ostomies travel widely, from camping trips to cruises to plane excursions around the world. Since you should prepare for travel, here are some suggestions:

Before going any long distance from home, ask your doctor for any information you may need to travel with your ostomy, especially in case of diarrhea or blockage. He may give you a prescription for diarrhea and advice on what to do if you need a doctor in a strange city.

Take along enough supplies to last the entire trip plus some extras. They may not be easy to get where you are going. Even if you don't expect to change the appliance, take along everything you need to do so. Leave home fully prepared. Find out if and where supplies are available for a long trip. A local UOA chapter may be helpful.

Try to obtain from your own chapter the name of the ostomy group in the country or area you will visit, as the local chapter has information on ostomy and surgical suppliers, ET nurses, perhaps doctors. The local phone directory is a good place to look - check "ostomy" or American Cancer Society. You may be able to telephone or fax your own supply source.

You can work out a way to change your appliance anywhere you travel, even in the woods or on a plane. If you use a reusable appliance, you can soak it in your favorite solution by putting both in a plastic container with a tight-fitting lid, or in a plastic bag that "zips" closed.

When traveling by car, keep your supplies in the coolest part. Avoid the trunk or back window ledge.

Seat belts will not harm the stoma when adjusted comfortably. You may place a clothes pin near the retraction slot to relieve tension on the belt. Shields are available to guard the stoma.

Traveling by plane - Checked luggage sometimes gets lost. When you travel, carry an extra appliance and other supplies on the plane with you. Be sure your adhesive remover is non-flammable. Small cosmetic bags with plastic linings or shaving kits work well. These should be carried in your carry-on luggage.

Traveling abroad - Before traveling abroad, get a copy of the current directory of English-speaking physicians in various foreign cities who charge a standard fee. The International Association of Medical Assistance to Travelers (IAMAT), 417 Center Street, Lewiston NY 14092 (716-754-4883) publishes lists of English-speaking physicians in over 1400 cities around the world. The IAMAT is a non-profit association and its services are free. A donation is appreciated, however.

To avoid problems when going through customs or luggage inspection, have a note from your doctor stating that you need to carry ostomy supplies and medications by hand (something like "MEDICALLY NECESSARY - OSTOMY SUPPLIES"). By having this information translated into the language or languages of the country(s) you are visiting, further problems might be avoided. The note could be written in several languages, on one piece of paper, and carried with your passport.

In foreign countries, traveler's diarrhea is a common disease of tourists, whether you have an ostomy or not. The most common cause of diarrhea is contaminated water and/or food or climate. Your physician can give you a prescription for medication to control diarrhea and rebuild stamina. It should be filled in your home state, since the prescription may not be valid elsewhere. Be sure drinking water is safe. If the water is not safe, do not use the ice either. Bottled water or boiled water are recommended. Also avoid unpeeled fruit and raw vegetables.

Don't let any of these suggestions stop you from traveling. All travelers must plan carefully and be careful about food and drink. So travel to your heart's content and join the many thousands of ostomates who travel extensively in North America and abroad.

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Content last revised 1996-07-03