What is going on holiday like with a stoma?

What is going on holiday like with a stoma?

Travelling feels like such a luxury after the last two years. I am eagerly awaiting my family holiday with the family and can’t wait for my toes to touch the sand and feel the salty sea air on my skin. Is there anything better? Fish and chips at the seaside, the kids playing outside care free, and that dreaded morning alarm set too silent. If you have kids it won’t make much different mind! But, just being able to turn it off feels so rebellious! Packing for a family is a task in itself. Inevitably something will get left, and if you are like me you will have to buy more sun-cream as you leave it at the beach or it explodes in the car!

My 8 top tips 

A family of 4 standing on the beach at the water's edge as the sun sets. They are holding hands and you can see their silhouettes only.

Travelling with a stoma brings its own fun with 2 of the 4 of us being ostomates. The ostomy supplies take up lots of space, so I make sure I pack efficiently to save space, and smartly to be able to access everything when we get there. Here are my top 8 tips:

  • Put ostomy supplies in a washing basket - sounds a bit of a strange idea but by putting them in a washing basket they can clearly be seen, you can keep them in one place and when your supplies have been used you can use it for its primary purpose - the dreaded washing to take back home! A nice big one I find is much easier to put in the car than several bags where im trying to find what’s where. 
  • Check when your next delivery for supplies is due to make sure it doesn’t clash with you being away. Respond are excellent at working around this and can bring your delivery forward so you don’t run out or you can change delivery address to someone you trust if you have enough for your holiday but not after.
  • Take enough - seems an obvious one but even if you are lucky enough to never get a leak I would still reckoned you take spares just in case. The last thing you want is to scramble for supplies when you are away from home. I always take enough for one a day and a spare. If swimming is involved another one each day on top just incase. Delivery companies should advise you to take spares in these situations. In the UK and abroad in some cases you can have extra supplies delivered to you in case of emergencies. 
  • Radar key and ‘Can’t Wait’ cards are an essential for me when we are far from home. The radar key, which can be purchased online or your stoma purse may be able to provide you with one, should provide you with access to public toilets in the UK. Be careful though, as when you are in them someone from the outside can open it with their key even if you have locked it!! The cards are great when you are somewhere that’s difficult to find toilet facilities or you are in a situation where you are queuing. They are now available digitally on your phone, or if you are old fashioned like me the physical card will do just fine.

Public toilets doors - left is womens' toilets and right is the mens'

  •  Breaking everything down and separating it from the packaging as much as possible not only saves space, but also time. I have touched upon this in my recycling blog which can be found here. With ostomy supplies, I take everything out of boxes and put them in a toiletry bag which is see through so I can see it and get to it quickly. When we arrive on holiday I setup an area for bag changes and lay everything out ready. I want to make sure for Jake my 6 year old especially, if an emergency bag change is needed I am prepared and it can be done quickly so it doesn’t disrupt his fun more than it needs too. 
  • Using products which have a duel function is a great way to simplify your bag change routine, saving time and space. REFRESH 3 IN 1 from Respond Ltd the delivery service is just that, and I have been a die hard supporter since I had the sample. It is a barrier film, adhesive remover, and has a fresh linen scent, Even more impressive is that it is available in 150ml and 50ml. The 50ml is perfect for on holiday when your are travelling. Get your sample here.
  • Cutting base plates before you leave can be a great time saver. Some people do theirs weekly as part of their routine anyway, enough for the coming week to save time during bag changes. Doing this when packing for a holiday and getting them out of the packaging, which can include a lot of plastic at times, will save space too. Take care when transporting them and keep them in a cool dry place as the heat can affect how their adhere to the skin negatively.
  • Lastly, put your name and number in your ostomy supply bag. Sounds a bit bizarre but if you leave it accidentally in a restaurant or a park someone might pick it up, and be able to get it back to you. Loosing supplies when away from home fills me with dread, so I always do this and hope that some kind sole will reach out so I can retrieve my belongings.

Let’s face it, having an ostomy means there is so much more to consider when packing to go away...

It can be stressful, but planning ahead and having enough supplies should mean you can enjoy the process and hit the beach in no time! You deserve to have a holiday full of no leaks or accidents along the way, but if this does happen just remember plenty of people without an ostomy have such accidents just from a different place to us! You aren’t alone and once its done don’t dwell on it, enjoy your break and don’t let it stop you.

Until next time, Rach x

Disclaimer: As always, this post is from our blogger, Rachel's, experience of living with an ostomy & Hirschsprung's Disease & from what she has researched. Nothing in our blog posts should be taken as medical advice. It's always best to consult a medical professional if you have queries or concerns.

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