Well, I have reached yet another milestone as an ostomate. My first vacation trip! I made it through security on the way out to Seattle with no problems, but I did set off the machine in LAX on the way home. I have to say that it was not the traumatic situation I thought it would be. I just explained that I have an ileostomy and the TSA woman had me rub my hand over it, then wiped it with a little slip of paper and fed that into a machine that cleared me– no harm done.
Kyle and I had a blast! First, staying with a friend in Seattle, then traveling the Pacific Coast Highway south to Laguna Beach (stopping along the way), and finally flying home from LA.
Here are my tips for traveling with an ileostomy:
1. Pack extra supplies!! I know this is a no-brainer, but it is very important. You don’t want to get caught on the road when your last wafer or bag springs a leak! Also, don’t forget the barrier rings/paste, adhesive remover, and all “ostomy accessories” (powders, anti-sting wipes, protective sheets, etc.). My tip is to pack the amount to supplies that you would typically use for the duration of your trip, add one of everything, then double that– just to be safe.
2. Pack supplies in multiple bags. This is especially useful if you are flying. Keep supplies with you at all times in an easy to access carry-on, and pack others in a checked bag or additional carry-on.
3. Empty you ostomy bag before the security check-point. As I shared above, I made it through security without a hitch on the way out because I emptied my bag after checking in at the ticket counter, but set off the machine on my way home. My experience on the way home was mild, but if you are in a hurry, or don’t want anyone to know you are an ostomate– just empty before security.
4. If traveling to a beach/lake/pool- Get extra security for your wafer. I use Sure Seal. It is light and strong and gives me the peace of mind that even warm water won’t weaken the seal on my wafer.
5. Relax. Vacations are supposed to be fun and a break from the stresses of daily life. While in Laguna Beach, Kyle and I took a walk along the shore. It was my first time in a swim suit with my ileostomy. Running through my mind as we started our walk was– “Can anyone see my bag? I wonder if there are any other ostomates here? Well, if I can’t tell I bet no one can tell that I am an estimate either.” After this internal dialogue, I put it out of my mind and enjoyed the beautiful beach.
Here is a photo to prove that an ileostomy won’t hold you back– even out on the beach!