Traveling with an ostomy

Traveling with a stoma

We understand that travelling with an ostomy may seem challenging, but a stoma shouldn't keep you from exploring the world and traveling to see friends and family. As long as you are well-prepared, you are can enjoy traveling in the way that you please. In this article, we'll uncover different tips and information to help you prepare for your travels and feeling confident when you're on the go.

Keep in mind that you can always reach out to your healthcare professional or ostomy nurse who knows your medical history and can provide instructions based on your specific products and condition.

11 Things to Consider for Air Travel with an Ostomy Pouch

Traveling with an ostomy by plane

If it's your first flight after your ostomy surgery, we understand why the thought of being on a plane may seem overwhelming and frightening. Don't worry - as long as you do some planning ahead of time.

  1. Preparation is key: Order all your ostomy supplies and medical supplies well in advance. Make a thorough packing list beforehand, so you know exactly what goes in your carry on luggage and your checked luggage.

  2. Make sure you have proper travel insurance: You want to make sure that you're covered at the destination you're going to. Some policies may have age or pre-existing medical condition limits. Double check your policy coverage before you leave.

  3. Book an aisle seat close to the toilet, so that you can easily get to the restroom during the flight in case you need to empty your pouch.

  4. Get a travel card: Print your free travel card provided by United Ostomy Associations of America. You may show this to TSA agents to discreetly communicate your medical situation. Note that this is not a travel certificate that will help you avoid screening.

  5. Change your pouch right before you leave for the airport - hopefully it will last you a while, so you don't have to change when you're on the go or in the plane.

  6. Get to the airport early: Avoid creating a stressful situation for yourself. Be early so that you can take things in your own time.

  7. Prepare for the security check: Knowing your rights can help feel more confident and comfortable when you're going through security. Head to our section on navigating airport security with a stoma.

  8. Empty the contents of your pouch before you board the plane. There is a slight risk that the cabin pressure will cause your ostomy pouch to inflate like a balloon. Should this happen, simply go to the restroom and empty your pouch.

  9. Be mindful of what you eat and drink: Even though the cabin pressure is unlikely to cause ballooning, you may also want to be careful with what you eat and drink prior to flying, as certain foods and beverages can cause excessive gas. As an example, avoid carbonated beverages and foods that causes gas such as cabbage, brussels sprouts, eggs, certain beans etc.

  10. Stay hydrated: Make sure you have plenty of water with you on your trip so that you always have something to drink in case you feel dehydrated. If you have an ileostomy or urostomy, it's even more important to drink plenty. Being on the go can cause you to forget to keep your fluid intake up.

  11. Notify the cabin crew: If you feel comfortable with it, you can let the cabin crew members know about your medical condition so they are aware if you have special needs or requirements during the flight.

5 tips for Traveling with Ostomy Supplies

Airport sign for toilets

Here's what to remember prior to traveling:

  • Order extra products well in advance: This is important. Order extra ostomy products in good time, so you make sure to receive them before you leave - and that you have enough supplies to last. Preferably, you should order 2 or 3 times the amount you need.

  • Write down the name of your products: Noting down product names and taking a picture of them may be a good idea, in case you'll need to stock up when you're on the go. The products may look different where you're going or be named in local language.

  • Pack a travel kit: Pack a kit to bring in your carry on luggage so that you have all the stoma equipment you may need at hand. This can also help you feel confident, knowing that you're prepared for any hold-ups or delays, or in case your checked luggage should get lost.

  • Cut your barriers to the right size before you leave: Ready-to-use products as an extra preparation are more convenient when you are on the go. You may want to precut a few bags for your carry on luggage in case you may need them.

  • Check what resources are available at your destination: Consider locating local resources available to you, so you are prepared in case you need assistance at your destination at any point.

Ostomy Scissors in your hand luggage

TSA (Transportation Security Administration) allows scissors inside your carry-on for domestic flights within then US, but if you're traveling internationally the rules often differ. For travel abroad, pre-cut your barriers before you leave and/or pack scissors in your checked luggage only.

How do I go through airport security with a stoma?

The security check can seem daunting, but there's no need to worry. The security scanner might detect your pouch, even if it’s empty. However, the TSA agents cannot ask you to show your pouch or remove clothing that exposes it or let them touch it. You may be asked (or you can volunteer) to do a self-pat down - this means simply rubbing your hand against the pouch on the outside of your clothes (to rule out explosives), but that should be the extent of the examination. Remember that any passenger can be asked to do a pat down and that it's sometimes randomized samples.

You can always show them a Travel Certificate like this one from Coloplast® Care ( which is available in multiple languages, or a Travel Communication Card like this one (https://

Contact Transport Security Administration before your flight

If you're worried about the security check, you can reach out to TSA prior to your trip and discuss your trip. Ask them for the best way to approach the situation in the airport you are departing from.

As someone who does frequent trips by air travel, you can consider enrolling in the TSA PreCheck. Being part of this program, you're allowed to keep your shoes and belt on and leave your "3-1-1" baggie and laptop in your carry-on. You can apply for the TSA PreCheck online.

Contact the airline before flying

Some airlines allow extra luggage and/or weight at no extra charge when you're carrying medical supplies. They may also allow extra liquids if your medication or supplies come in this form. Double check with the airline that you're flying with beforehand, so you know your luggage allowance.

Double-check your list and start packing

Pack a stoma travel bag containing all the necessary supplies for when you're on the go

  • Ostomy pouches, pre-cut to your stoma size (2-3x as many as you think you may need)

  • Ostomy accessories, if you use them (Note: you may wish to request samples of different accessories in advance if you anticipate specific problems, like sticking issues due to high humidity or barrier edges rolling up while you swim.)

  • Filter cover stickers

  • Disposable bags

  • Dry wipes for swimming

  • Stoma caps for swimming or other moments that require extra discretion

  • A small ostomy travel bag to keep your ostomy appliance and accessories with you in case of emergency while you’re out and about

  • A Travel Communication Card if you want to notify TSA of your medical needs

  • Scissors (TSA now allows scissors in your hand luggage for domestic flights within then US, but if you’re traveling internationally the rules often differ. For travel abroad, try to pre-cut your barriers before you leave and/or pack scissors in your checked luggage only.)

Product recommendations for your packing list

Brava® Lubricating Deodorant: Our lubricating deodorant masks odor and lubricates the pouch, making it easier to empty, which is convenient when you're on the go.

Brava® Paste: Our Brava paste protects against leakage by ensuring a tight fit between the stoma and ostomy barrier, if you'd like extra protection on your trip.

Brava® Skin Barrier Wipes: Our barrier wipes reduce skin leakage, whilst still protecting the skin, and it might be a nice accessory to have at hand when you're away from home.

Things to consider for any travel destination

Going somewhere warm? Consider your routines.

Depending on your destination, you may want to consider how you adapt your routine to a different climate and different activities.

Going somewhere warm and sunny?

surfer walking on ocean shoreline

Remember to apply sunscreen after you put on your pouch. The lotion could affect the barrier and make it harder to stick to the skin. If the climate is warm enough to make you perspire more than usual, you may need to change your pouch more frequently. Make sure your skin is completely dry before you apply a new pouch for good adhesion. It can be a bit tricky if the weather is hot and humid – if drying your skin is difficult, you can use a hairdryer on low heat to dry the area (be careful that it doesn’t get too hot by keeping it at a distance).

Swimming with an ostomy

Your ostomy pouch shouldn't prevent you from splashing around in the pool or taking a dip in the ocean. Just make sure your pouching system is intact and emptied before going swimming. It's a good idea to bring some stoma caps with you

Water can affect the adhesion if exposed for long periods of time, so you may need to change your pouch more frequently. You may want to add accessory items like barrier extenders prior to your swim or after. Once you're out of the water, remember to pat dry the pouching system as well as your skin.

Choosing your swimwear

Whatever you choose for swimwear is your personal choice. If you feel more comfortable covering your stoma bag, consider a high waisted swimsuit or a one piece option. You may also consider bringing a loose wrap skirt or other garments for cover-up.

For men, you can either choose to have your stoma bag exposed or covering it with your swim shorts. If you'd prefer to have your stoma bag concealed, you can also consider a swim shirt. There are different brands that offer swim wear and other garments specifically designed to cover up a stoma bag.

Want to learn more? Our user Nicola shares her experience swimming with a stoma bag in this article.

Water recommendations and hydration

Most people should try for eight 8-oz glasses of water per day, unless your healthcare provider says otherwise. If it’s hot outside, it’s important to stay hydrated. It can also be a good idea to bring medicine for diarrhea with you, just in case. Warmer weather brings a higher risk for dehydration and diarrhea, but with some preparation you do not need to worry. Here are some other helpful tips:

  • If you are not sure about the quality of the drinking water, buy bottled water or hydration drinks as recommended by your provider.

  • You may also want to avoid ice, depending on where you're travelling.

  • Don’t brush your teeth with tap water – buy a bottle of water instead.

  • If you irrigate, use drinking water such as bottled water. If you cannot drink it, do not irrigate with it.

Is having an ostomy considered a disability?

Even if you can walk just fine and are not limited physically in any way, you are classed as disabled in the eye of the law. As such, you are covered under the Equality Act 2010, which is meant to protect people who live with a long term chronic illness or prescribed disability.


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