Travelling With A Stoma – New York

Nathan Times Square

Hey everyone, 

I hope you are all keeping safe and well! 

This blog is about my recent trip to New York for my 30th Birthday. Yes, 30! AHH! Considering the doctors thought I wasn’t going to make it through my stoma surgery at age 17, turning 30 is a really huge deal! 

So, let’s talk about my outward journey to New York, and travelling with a stoma.

I always worry when I travel. I often think the worst is going to happen, and with any slight thing that goes wrong, I’m left feeling like it’s the end of the world – but this has never stopped me going! So, what was it that sparked my worry this time? Well, I wasn’t able to check in online for my flight and it said I had to do it at the airport!

I got to the airport, checked in, and spotted the dreaded ‘SSSS’ written on my boarding pass. If you don’t already know, SSSS stands for Secondary Security Screening Selection. 

This means that you go through the normal security and then you have another check when you get to the boarding gate, they pull you aside and have to scan, swab and check all your bags again! It’s already nerve-racking going through security with an ileostomy, so I was super-nervous on this occasion. I always feel like I’m doing something wrong or that I’m trying to hide something! Of course, it was completely fine and I had worried myself silly for no reason… 

They did notice my ileostomy bag though, and had to rub a swab over the pouch, they also patted it down, but asked if it was okay first and they were really good about it all. 

The whole thing lasted about five minutes. It’s obviously not ideal but it was fine! The flight itself went well. I recommend taking an odour eliminator in your hand luggage which you can place in a clear bag to get through security. This way, when you empty your bag on a flight, you don’t have to worry about leaving a smell behind for the next person using the loo!

Let’s get on to New York. WOW! It was honestly a dream come true. This was my first visit to NYC and I have always wanted to go - I will definitely be going back! I went with two friends and we managed to get a hotel in Times Square, right in the heart of the action. It was truly magical! 

As with every new place, I worry about toilet situations. 

We had planned lots of walking and seeing many exciting things, so I was slightly concerned about finding toilets. I didn’t have to worry about that either though, because there are so many places to stop and eat, and where there’s places to eat – there’s toilets! 

We were active for 17 hours on one of the days, we did so much walking! I wanted to take it all in, so we did the Brooklyn Bridge, One World Trade, Times Square, Empire State Building… I wanted to stay longer, and I completely forgot about having an ileostomy! It didn’t stop me from doing anything. I was able to enjoy such an active weekend, without the worry of feeling ‘different’. 

It helps going with people that understand what you’re living with, and that you may have certain needs – but all in all, nothing was really different to them! Sometimes it’s worth remembering that we’re not that different, everyone has to use a toilet at some point. 

So, if any of you have ever wanted to take a trip somewhere, but let the worry of your stoma stop you, don’t let it stop you anymore! From the security checks to the flight to the destination itself – it is all completely doable. Do not let your anxiety rule you. You can do this, you can make many memories and live an amazing life.

I am now more excited than ever to go on my next trip. Yes, I will still have the anxieties, but I can acknowledge them, deal with them and push them aside. It will definitely be worth it in the long run! 

Until next time! 

Nathan x

“I completely forgot about having an ileostomy, it didn’t stop me from doing anything!” - @thatsnathan

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If you do have an upcoming trip planned, it may make you feel more confident to take one of our downloadable ostomy travel certificates with you. You can also read other travel blogs from our globetrotting team, here

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by Nathan Wheeler

Nathan Wheeler

About the author

Hello - I'm Nathan Wheeler! I'm a YouTuber and I've had an ileostomy since 2007 when I was just 17, so I have a pretty good idea about how to deal with the struggles of a stoma! I want to share my experiences with you and bring a light-hearted approach to all the questions that no one wants to ask! You can follow me an Instagram and YouTube.

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