I’ve liked to get out of town frequently for as long as I can remember, even if it’s just a couple hours away. That didn’t change after I had ostomy surgery. Six weeks after surgery, I visited friends a few hours away and I haven’t stopped moving since. One thing I was cognizant about while I was packing for that trip was how having an ostomy would affect my packing process. I dug in and began some research. Here’s what I learned and have been successfully implementing ever since.
Always be sure to include extra ostomy supplies and medications. One of my biggest fears after surgery was developing a leak, and I wanted to make sure I had enough supplies to feel confident that I’d be prepared if I had leaks while I was away from my main supply stash.
The general guideline is to pack two to three times as many supplies as you think you’ll need on a trip. I planned to be gone for two weeks and had been changing my pouch once every five days. I knew I’d need the minimum supplies to support three pouch changes; however, I packed closer to twelve changes just to be extra cautious since it was my first trip.
I’ve found that I always bring a minimum of five pouch changes with me when I’m going away, even if it’s just for a few nights. I do not anticipate needing to do any pouch changes.
Plane travel was next. Even though I had a friend who worked for TSA as a security officer who told me they were educated about ostomies and that I could bring ALL my supplies including my scissors, I was nervous about going through security. I use a cut-to-fit wafer and was worried they were going to take my scissors and that I’d have no way to cut my wafers at my destination. I checked a bag and put more supplies and scissors in that so that I’d be covered supply-wise even if security confiscated my items.
All that worry was a waste of energy because I went through security no problem and got to keep all the supplies I’d packed. When I was packing, I put all my supplies together in one travel bag so that I’d be able to grab them easily when I needed them. I also brought my emergency kit on the plane so that I’d be able to grab it quickly if I had a leak while traveling.
I’m notorious for feeling like I have nothing to wear while I’m at home and then think of creative and cute outfits for when I’m on vacation. The problem is sometimes what I think is going to be cute ends up not looking at all like what I was envisioning which leaves me feeling self-conscious and stressed. To combat this, I’ve started making a real effort to pack outfits I already know I love to wear. For example, I know that high-waisted pants are my preference for keeping my ostomy snug to my body. When I’m packing, I bring my favorite pants instead of that new pair of pants that’s not tried and true.
After packing for and going on a ton of trips, I’ve realized that packing for travel with an ostomy isn’t that much different than packing for travel without one. I just add “ostomy supplies” to my packing list, compile two to three times what I think I’ll need into one or two travel bags, put one in my carry-on and one in my luggage, and I’m ready to rock! It’s easy and doesn’t take nearly as long as picking out my outfits does!
Do you have any other tips for packing for travel as an ostomate?