My First Holiday with a Stoma

Can you go on holiday with a stoma

“The more people who talk about and show their stoma, the more normal it will become for everyone else. It shouldn’t be hidden, let’s break the stigma, TOGETHER!”

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Hi everyone!

Have you been considering going on a sunny holiday abroad, but have been put off because you’re worried about your stoma? Well, I’m here to share my experience about my first holiday with a stoma to help you feel more at ease.

I’ve recently returned home from my first holiday abroad since having my stoma formed in October 2021. I’m very lucky to have been on many holidays throughout my life and I love having the opportunity to explore the world with my husband and 2 young children.

We jetted off to the lovely island of Majorca. I’ve visited Majorca a few times in the past so I’m familiar with the area and I think this is something that made me feel more confident about travelling with a stoma for the first time.

Packing and Supplies

My biggest piece of advice would be to pack lots of supplies and more! The last thing you would want is to run out in a foreign country, where they may not stock what you need. It’s better to have too many than not enough.

I made sure that I packed supplies in each of our suitcases and our cabin bags, just in-case one of our suitcases got lost. Many airlines offer an extra luggage allowance for free if you’re needing to take medication or medical supplies with you. It’s important to let the airline know well in advance of your flight, so give ‘special assistance’ a call a few days before you fly to speak with them about your needs.

Travel Certificate and Proof of Medical Needs

When getting ready to travel for the first time with my stoma, I did a lot of research on what I might need to ensure that me and my supplies could make it to our destination easily.

While researching I came across SecuriCare’s Stoma Travel Certificate. As I use SecuriCare as my home delivery service, they also sent me out a FREE travel bag for my stoma supplies, which was perfect and who doesn’t love a freebie! The travel certificate explains that you have a stoma, in multiple languages so you can reuse it for future holidays. The certificate needs to be signed by your GP, so make sure you check in with your doctor’s surgery on the process of getting it signed and how long it might take to get it signed.

I also decided to take a repeat prescription as I’m on controlled medication, but you could take a letter from your GP if you wanted to. This can be very helpful to save you time going through security and might help reduce the number of questions you have to answer.

Ballooning

Ballooning is a concern that I think all ostomates share when it comes to air travel. I decided to change my bag after going through security and hoped that it would stay empty during the flight. I ensured that my bag was as flush to the skin as possible with no air gaps. You can also use flange extenders if you wanted to be extra safe. I was pleasantly surprised that I experienced no ballooning at all during the flight and I was even able to sit comfortably enough to sleep for most of the flight!

Disposing of your bags

Before arriving at the hotel, I was worried about where I would dispose of my bags after changing them, as we call know they can be a bit smelly, and I didn’t really fancy having a stinky hotel room. Luckily for me, at the end of each of the corridor in the hotel was a general waste disposal bin so I just took a little wander after each bag change. If there isn’t a bin available outside of your room, have a chat with reception, they may be able to come up with a solution for you. You’ll be surprised how much people are willing to help and chances are, they’ve probably had someone talk to them about it before.

Food

Now I’m sure we’re all aware, changes to your diet can play havoc with your stomach and having a stoma makes things a little interesting. During my holiday, I noticed that I was having to change my bag a little more often that if I was at home. While I was taking full advantage of the all-inclusive cocktails and food, there was a voice in the back of my mind telling me that my stoma might not be too happy with my choices, but it’s just all about managing your stoma properly and keeping an eye out on changes to your output.

If you’re like me and sometimes suffer with constipation or worse, blockages, then don’t forget to pack something to help. I packed my prescribed laxatives just in case. Although I didn’t use it, I thought it was best to be prepared rather than possibly end up with a trip to the doctor whilst abroad.

Swimming

Adhesion of your bag is probably the biggest concern for ostomates who want to go swimming. I decided to use a flange extender extra security, they’re brilliant! Easy to apply and remove, these help with longer wear time and any breakdown of adhesive, they help keep your bag secure and prevent any leaks or water seeping through the seal.

Confidence

Lastly the main thing that everyone worries about and what holds people back- confidence!

Let’s just remember that having a stoma is nothing to hide. Nothing to be ashamed of. It’s part of who we are, a part we should embrace and be proud of. I understand how difficult it is for some people to feel confident with their stoma bag. I try to encourage people to talk about their bag or show it to people, the more open you are the more confident you’ll feel in yourself.

I chose not to wear anything to cover my bag while I was on holiday. Whether I was sunbathing on the beach, swimming in the pool or doing a spot of shopping. It was far too hot to even think about covering up and more to the point, why should I?

I didn’t notice any strange looks from anyone, and I felt very lucky to have an interaction with not one but two people about my stoma. A lovely lady told me how inspiring it was to see me walking around embracing my stoma! I also overheard a young boy ask his mum “what’s that on her belly?”, after a brief explanation from his mum, his response was “ah, but she’s so pretty”. It was a beautiful, heart-warming interaction and I couldn’t help but smile at both of them.

Remember, people don’t care, we just THINK they do.

Sadly, so many people avoid going on holiday due to their confidence. It’s okay if you’re not feeling 100% confident in your body, everyone has those times, stoma or no stoma. Don’t avoid a holiday because of your confidence., just try to find a solution that works for you. There are lots of high waisted clothing and swimwear or you can choose to wear a support belt to cover your stoma if you wish to.

Now, go ahead, book that holiday, you deserve it. Feel the sand between your toes, the warm sun on your skin and let the sea wash away all of your worries! The more people who talk about and show their stoma, the more normal it will become for everyone else. It shouldn’t be hidden, let’s break the stigma, TOGETHER!

Jody x

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by SecuriCare Team

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