Road Trips with a Urostomy


“Having a stoma doesn’t have to stop you from living a full life”

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I’m not a seasoned traveller, you won’t see me jet setting across the globe... Apart from my solo trip to Philadelphia in 2019! I do however travel from south England to Manchester to see my sister and Newcastle to see my brother.

It isn’t usually the journey that gives me anxiety, it’s the amount of planning that I have to do before I even leave the house. For the record, I’m not an organised person. Any planning feels as though it goes against my nature. But, when you have a stoma, you sort of HAVE to plan your trip.

The first time I travelled up north I was terrified. What if I leaked? What if I was miles away from a restroom? What if I had to change my bad on the side of the motorway?!

Now I’ve done the drive a thousand times, I’ve realised that I didn’t need to worry too much. As long as I was prepared, a long drive could actually be quite fun. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had a few nightmares on trips, but we’ll come back to that later.

Before the trip

I'll usually pack my clothes the day before I leave, and I’ll tackle my stoma -go-to bag at the same time. My go-to bag contains all of the products I need to change my bag.

Here’s my stoma bag packing list:

  • 2 boxes of bags- however this depends how long I’m going away for
  • 2 CliniPeel Sprays
  • 2 LBF Barrier Film Sprays
  • Night Bags- again, the number will depend on how many nights I’m going away for
  • Dry Wipes
  • Inner Rings
  • Seals
  • Extra Set of Clothes

I also like to make sure that I have a box of supplies in the car, just in-case I get caught in an emergency. Unfortunately, I’ve been in situations such as being taken ill and being involved in a car accident, which made me realise I should have supplies in the car as well as information about my stoma, my next of kin contact and the medication that I currently take.

Alongside my usual supplies in the car, I pop a towel on one of the spare seats while I’m driving, just in case I have a leak and need to use the towel to give me time to get to a loo!

So, what does a usual drive look like for me?

I will always start the morning of my journey with a bag change. This helps give me a little extra reassurance that I’m doing what I can to prevent leaks.

My husband is an angel and makes sure the car is prepped for a long drive by checking the tyre pressure, washer fluid and filling the tank with petrol. Which means all I have to do is pop my bag in the boot, make sure my emergency supplies are refilled, plug myself into a night drainage bag that I’ve strategically placed behind the driver's seat and off I go!

The journey to see my sister is roughly 4 hours, so I tend to stop every hour or so. I do this so I can check on my night bag, stretch my legs and grab a coffee and a little snack!

‘What happens if I have a leak?!’ I hear you ask... Well, story time! I was on my way back from Newcastle with my husband and was enjoying a sing song in the car when I realised my night bag tube had twisted and wasn’t draining properly, so I gave it a squeeze... and it popped!! Thankfully, we weren’t too far from the nearest service station.

Unfortunately for me the car park was PACKED and there was people everywhere! The only parking space was at the far end of the car park, nowhere near the toilets.

There was no way I was walking that far holding a towel against my tummy while pee gently trickled down my leg, so there was only one option... change my bag in the car.

It was a bit of a tight squeeze and I had to use the driver’s seat to put my supplies on, but I managed it!

I did notice the curious eyes of others looking in the car trying to work out what I was doing, But I didn’t really care, nor did I feel embarrassed. I just got on with dealing with the situation as I usually would in any other location.

I know many people who have stomas may be nervous about travelling but having a stoma doesn’t have to stop you from living a full life and travelling the world!

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by Anita Brown

Anita Brown

About the author

Hi I’m Anita Brown. Diagnosed with terminal small cell bladder cancer in April 2016. I've had palliative chemo and radiotherapy, and a radical cystectomy and urostomy in August 2017.

I've had problems with my bladder all my life, from incontinence, to kidney and bladder stones, and now cancer. I would like to share some of my experiences - follow me on Twitter.