Going on holiday < BACK

It’s only natural that you may be feeling apprehensive about travelling for the first time following your operation. Start with short trips away from home to build up your confidence. It’s best to check with your surgeon or GP prior to booking your holiday to make sure it’s OK to travel. Remember, you must seek medical approval for the trip if you have been in hospital during the last 6 months. The best advice for travelling is to plan ahead:

  • Make a checklist of equipment you need to take with you.
  • Go through your daily routine to remind yourself of exactly what you use.
  • Calculate the number of pouches you would normally need for the number of days of your holiday and double it, with a few extras. The change in climate and environment may mean more pouch changes are needed.
  • It may be useful to take with you different size pouches for different activities such as a larger capacity bag for long-haul flights or a smaller one for swimming. Ask your stoma nurse for advice.
  • Keep most of your supplies in hand luggage if possible, but do pack some supplies in your suitcase as well.
  • Contact your travel insurance company to ensure you have adequate insurance cover
  • Find out the details of a stoma nurse in the location where you are staying
  • Take separate small travel kits containing items needed for a change of appliance
Travel insurance More info

Before insurers agree to provide cover, you may have to complete a medical questionnaire or speak to a medical advisor. You must disclose any medical history, surgery and any pre-existing conditions. Shop around for cover - the Colostomy Association may know of reputable travel insurance companies. If travelling to Europe, make sure you have a new European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), which entitles you to free or reduced cost medical treatment. You can pick one up at the Post Office or by calling 0845 606 2030.

Flying tips More info

- Pack scissors in your hold luggage
- Book an aisle seat for easy toilet access
- Avoid spicy/fatty foods or fizzy drinks which can make you windy
- Obtain travel cards from Salts Medilink to explain your condition in several languages. Call Freephone 0800 626388

Food and drinkMore info
- Be wary of the water supply in some countries
- Use bottled/boiled water, including when cleaning your teeth/stoma
- Avoid food that has been standing for long periods
- Don't have ice cubes in drinks
- Wash salads and fruit in bottled water before eating them
Tummy upsets More info
A change in climate, water or food can upset your bowels, so be prepared. As a precaution for diarrhoea, it is advisable to take with you: Loperamide (Imodium) which slows down the bowel's activity; and sachets of rehydration powder (Dioralyte or Rehydrate) which easily dissolves in water to replace lost body salts and reduces the risk of dehydration. All of these medications are available on prescription or over the counter from the pharmacist or local supermarket. Always read the instructions very carefully and, if symptoms don’t settle after 24 hours, seek medical advice.
FluidsMore info
Drink plenty of fluids. In hot, humid countries, we perspire much more and need to replace lost body fluids. Make sure you have plenty of fluid stops and always carry a bottle of water. Isotonic sports drinks such as Lucozade Sport or equivalent are excellent for combating dehydration. Allow them to go flat first, to reduce wind.
If you notice any of the symptoms of dehydration - such as thirst, headache, weakness, small amounts of concentrated urine or light-headedness - you can make up a simple oral rehydration solution as follows:
- 6 level teaspoons of sugar
- 1 level teaspoon of salt
- Half teaspoon of sodium bicarbonate
- Mix with 1 litre of tap water (bottled water, if abroad)
- Improve palatability with a small amount of fruit juice or squash

This solution should be drunk over 24 hours. Seek medical advice if symptoms persist. Remember, also, that too much alcohol will accelerate dehydration - so don't overdo it!
Storage of equipment More info

If you are holidaying in a hot climate, your stoma pouches should not be allowed to get too warm. It is advisable to store your appliances in a cool bag and choose the coolest part of your accommodation.

Swimming More info

Swimming won’t affect the adhesion of your pouch; it can actually make the adhesive more tacky which leaves more residue when you come to remove it. Leave it to dry properly first and the adhesive should return to normal. You may want to choose a smaller size pouch for swimming and sunbathing. Remember to cover your pouch in the sun as the plastic intensifies the heat.

Colostomy swimwear More info
How brief swimming trunks or bikinis can be depends on the position of your stoma.
Female swimwear tips
- A good swimsuit lining or double layer fabric will support your abdomen and help hide the pouch
- Choose a boldly patterned costume which will camouflage any bulges
- If you wear bikinis, a high-legged style may cover your stoma. Alternatively, choose a tankini top (long, vest-style top) to wear with bikini bottoms
- Wear a sarong on the beach and at the side of the pool. It can be easily removed when you fancy a dip
Male swimwear tips
- If you are happy wearing your Speedos – great!
- Swimming shorts are a good choice as they can be worn above the stoma and are generally loose fitting.
- Choose swim shorts with a mesh lining which will help support your pouch
Going places booklet More info

Take a look at our digital booklet about holiday advice for ostomists — "Going places." Just click on the image to the right.