Last year when I had my ileostomy I took a trip to the Canary Islands to enjoy a bit of sea, sun and of course FOOD. Having an Ostomy should not stop you travelling abroad, all you need to do is be organised and be prepared for all eventualities.
1- Supplies– It may seem an obvious one but make sure you get your supplies ordered early and with extras. It’s stressful leaving everything to the last-minute so at least 2-3 weeks before the holiday get your bags, sprays, extenders in, as sometimes they don’t have what you need in stock and you might have to wait a week or more for them to arrive.
2- Medication Count your pills, work out how many you need for the week/s and get those prescriptions in early. Some countries require you to have a letter from the doctor explaining that these are your personal medication, that is if you are having to take a large amount overseas.
3- Packing- Pack enough bags in your suitcase for the trip and times it by 2, I managed to ruin bags whilst trying to change them and one splash of liquid on that seal with render that bag useless. Like I said, prepare for all eventualities. Also think about how often you are swimming and sweating, these both can cause leaks, therefore more bag changes.
4- Hand luggage– It’s never happened to me, yet; but loosing your main suitcase with all your bag supplies in it would be horrendous! I put a full weeks worth in my hand luggage and make sure to keep your medication with you at all times. We are lucky in that most Ostomy products come at or under the 100ml mark allowed for flights in the UK.
5- 45 mins in the pool or the sea is long enough to make your bag become loose so try not to exceed this time.
6- Food- All inclusive lovers must still be careful about what you are eating, if it looks like its been sitting out for a while, i’d avoid it. Restaurants in popular tourist areas will generally speaking be clean and safe, but although that food van selling kebabs looks appetizing after a few margaritas, remember it’s not worth the illness that could follow so just be aware. I went to Bulgaria not that long ago and was absolutely fine and they are not known for their cleanliness or for their safe mains water in which they wash food/ hands with.
7 – Drink plenty of WATER– Becoming dehydrated is dangerous when mixed with the blazing sun so make sure you buy plenty of bottled water. Try and stay away from alcohol during the day and if you are drinking at night, have water in between a few drinks, especially if you are partial to a cocktail or too with ‘Spanish measures’. Coke, Pepsi, Coffee and Tea will not hydrate you so if you want something fizzy go for a lemonade, if you don’t want water try orange juice but remember this can increase your output. Ask for decaffeinated tea or coffee if you really want something hot in the morning.
8- Snacks – Keep snacks in your bag, cereal bars or a piece of fruit as you should still be eating small but often even if you have set meals times.
9- Trips – When booking trips be mindful of the toilet situation; how far is it between rest stops? Are there facilities on the boat? Don’t be shy to ask your travel agent. Before getting on the coach try to eat a few hours earlier so your output is less for the ride. On the way from the airport to the hotel, I nearly didn’t make it, sitting there with my bag 3/4 full and rising. It was stressful, so try to avoid drinking and eating a lot.
10- Health Insurance – buy it! No ifs no buts. If you’re only going for a few weeks then it’s dirt cheap anyway especially now we have comparison websites. It will ask you for pre existing medical conditions and Crohn’s and Colitis is on there as well as a list of ostomies. Make sure you tell them everything because they love a reason not to pay out.
11- EHIC card – if you don’t already have one you can apply for one online.
“An EHIC will enable you to access state-provided healthcare in European Economic Area (EEA) countries and Switzerland at a reduced cost, or sometimes for free. It will cover your treatment until you return to the UK.”
12- Be Confident – I took a range of swimwear from full swimsuit to itsy bitsy bikini. When I was walking down the beach or around the pool people did look but it’s only because they are curious. I found if I wore my full swimsuit it did make me feel more confident in the water because of the added support pressing against the bag. I mostly wore my bikini though, you get a nice bag shaped white patch, which takes a few holidays to even out once it’s reversed!