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Travelling with a Stoma

Using medical appliances for your stoma and continence needs should not affect your ability to lead a normal life and that includes travel. Below are some handy tips for you to consider when travelling with a stoma.

Couple outside

Travelling abroad with a stoma

Planning ahead

  • Remember that luggage in the hold can get lost in transit. It is worth spreading your items between yours and your travelling partners’ cases to ensure that, if one case is misplaced, you will still have goods available to you.
  • Prepare a checklist of products and items you need to take with you. These will include the products you normally use as well as dry wipes and disposal bags. You can keep these items in a small travel kit, so that you have your appliances and accessories to hand.

What to pack in a stoma travel bag

It’s a good idea to make a checklist of your items before you travel. For a hassle-free journey, it’s crucial to obtain a travel certificate and fill in the details before your trip, especially if you’re travelling abroad. This document serves as a clear explanation to airport security about your stoma equipment, potentially reducing any unnecessary stress or delays.

If you have a Colostomy, it is a good idea to take some drainable bags with you to use if you experience loose output. If you experience any issues with bags sticking correctly, take extra products with you. Change your bag more frequently if you plan on going swimming or spending long periods in the water. It is wise to spread your supplies between your and your partner’s hand luggage, just in case your case gets lost in transit.

Ensure you follow regulations for carrying fluids/pastes/lotions. Ensure your scissors are packed in hold luggage. You will need to pre-cut any bags you may need for the flight. If you remove the stoma bags from the boxes and package them in zip-lock bags, they will take up less space.

Prior to your travel, it’s essential to reach out to the airline during the booking process. This proactive step allows them to arrange any necessary support and accommodations, such as extra hand luggage or an aisle seat near a toilet, ensuring a more comfortable journey for you.

Flying with a stoma

  • Before travelling, you will need to check with your airline their policy for carrying these items in your luggage, as Customs and Security officials may ask you questions about the appliances.
  • Obtain a note from your GP stating you need to carry some essential products in your hand luggage. Fittleworth can send a
    Travel Certificate that explains why you have the appliances.
  • When you travel by air, carry some supplies in your hand luggage. Scissors and sharp objects are not allowed in your hand luggage, so if you need a stoma pouch cut-to-fit, make sure you take pre-cut pouches with you.
  • The rules on what is allowed in your hand luggage can and do change. Keep liquids in smaller bottles (less than 100ml capacity) and do make sure that any adhesive removers are non-flammable. Product samples are often smaller than normal prescription items which you may find helpful. For more information please contact our Customer Service team.
  • Try to use the toilet before boarding the plane and before meals when it is likely to be less busy. When booking, ask for an aisle seat near the toilet if possible.

Going through airport security with a stoma

When going through airport security, you may be asked to show the contents of your hand luggage. If you wish, you can ask to be taken to a more secluded area. It is a good idea to take a travel certificate with you. This will explain to the airport security officer that you are carrying stoma equipment.

Please follow current airline guidelines for carrying fluids. The scanner at the airport may pick up your stoma bag. You shouldn’t be asked to show your bag in public, remove clothing, or remove your bag. However, having a stoma doesn’t exclude you from the normal searches required by airport security. If security wants to examine you, you can ask to be taken to a private room.

Does a stoma bag inflate on a plane?

There is a slight chance that your stoma bag might inflate or balloon when flying due to changes in cabin pressure.

Does flying affect a stoma bag?

Avoid food and drink that can cause excess wind, but don’t avoid eating before travelling; make sure you drink plenty of fluids. Once you are able, you can empty or change your bag in the plane toilet. If you have a Colostomy, you may want to wear a drainable bag when flying. Wear comfortable clothing that allows easy access to your bag.

Travelling by car or rail

  • After any medical procedure you should not drive until your doctor advises you can resume. You must be able to do an emergency stop, to reverse and be alert for the whole time you are driving.
  • Check with your insurer about any changes in your medical condition to ensure you are covered should an accident occur. If you are unsure about the disclosure of information to your motor insurer, discuss this with your GP or specialist nurse.
  • As an ostomist you may find it more comfortable when driving to use a special attachment to your seat
    belt. This releases tension around your hip bone but tightens automatically when necessary. These are available from most motoring accessory shops.
  • If you use a drainable bag, you may find it helpful when making a long journey to carry a night bag in the vehicle. This will be helpful if you get stuck in a traffic jam and cannot get to a toilet.

How soon can I drive after stoma surgery?

This can vary from one person to another and may depend on how long it has to recover from surgery. You need to be recovered from the operation before attempting to drive, which may take 4-6 weeks. You need to be able to move easily, be pain-free, and carry out an emergency stop.

Your Surgeon may advise when he feels it is appropriate for you to return to driving. If you have had keyhole surgery, you may be able to drive sooner. It is always a good idea to let your insurance company know that you have had abdominal surgery. Having a stoma does not stop you from driving. It would be best to wear your seatbelt at all times. There is no seatbelt exemption for people with stomas.

Travelling by sea

  • Travelling by sea means you should not have as many problems as other forms of travel. Ships are more spacious and have more accessible facilities.
  • Make sure you know where the toilets are located so that you can get to them quickly if you need to. They may be on a different deck in some instances.
  • If you are travelling on a cruise ship, make sure you know where the medical room is and how to contact the on-board GP in case of medical emergencies.
  • Cruise ships usually have medical and nursing staff on board, but they will not carry stoma equipment, so you will need to take extra supplies with you for use in emergencies and if you plan on swimming or spending long periods in the water.
  • Eat and drink normally before and during travel.
  • Hand gel is usually available around ferries and cruise ships, especially in restaurants.
  • Ensure you follow everyday hand hygiene guidance.

RADAR keys

RADAR operates a key scheme to enable access to disabled toilets throughout the UK. You can obtain a RADAR key by calling 0800 378 846 or ask our Customer Service team for more information.

Stoma travel certificate

Fittleworth produces a handy pocket-sized stoma travel certificate, sometimes known as a stoma passport, which explains, in various languages, what your ostomy appliances and medications are for and why you are carrying them.

This can help to avoid awkward questions at customs checkpoints. It also ensures that any form of examination takes place in complete privacy. These are available free of charge to customers, simply request one from our Customer Service team or register as a new patient.

Can I get travel insurance if I have a stoma bag?

You can get travel insurance if you have a stoma, but it may be more expensive than you have previously paid. Only attempt to travel with insurance, as it can be costly if you need medical help abroad without it.

When buying travel insurance, it’s crucial to reveal any pre-existing medical conditions, recent surgeries, and ongoing treatments. This step is vital as it guarantees that your policy will adequately cover your specific medical needs. Remember to compare prices, as they can vary. Associations like Colostomy UK, The Ileostomy Association, and the Urostomy Association may be able to offer advice on companies offering more competitive rates.

Free emergency medical treatment abroad

If you are travelling within the EU there are reciprocal agreements which entitle you to free emergency treatment while abroad. To claim this you can apply for a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), which replaced the E111 form.

This card entitles the holder to state-provided medical treatment. To find out more and to register for a card, call 0845 606 2030 or visit www.ehic.org.uk. You may also be able to receive free or subsidised healthcare if you are travelling outside the EU provided that the country in question has a reciprocal healthcare agreement with the UK.

There are many countries which offer this including Australia, Barbados and New Zealand. The rules vary from country to country, and you will need to provide proof of your status as a UK resident such as your passport or driving licence. For a full list of countries and the different rules for each, visit www.nhs.gov.uk/healthcareabroad.

Where can I get emergency stoma bags?

It is always best to be prepared and ensure you order your bags in good time and the correct quantities if you are going on holiday. You can request an extra month’s supply so that you have enough to take with you and have some for your return.

Take extra supplies so you have plenty if you have problems with the bags sticking in hot weather. You may be able to obtain emergency supplies from a local hospital or chemist; they may be different from the products you are using, but they may be similar.

Fittleworth has a service called World Assist Alliance. This service assists people abroad with emergency supplies of stoma bags and catheters in certain countries. This service does not send supplies to your destination before your arrival, nor does it send an emergency supply from the UK to your stay. The emergency products are obtained from a supplier in the country you are staying in. These products may not be the same, but they will be similar to what you use.


Fittleworth is an exclusive UK member of the World Assist alliance: a service that assists people whilst abroad with emergency supplies of stoma bags and catheters in certain countries.

This service does not send supplies to your destination ahead of your arrival, nor does it send an emergency supply from the UK to where you are staying. Emergency products are obtained from a supplier within the country you are staying in, and these products may not be the same but similar to those you are using.

How World Assist Alliance Works

Simply call your normal Fittleworth contact number with your details and we will do the rest.

Terms and Conditions apply, please see our leaflet for full information, or contact our World Assist Alliance Customer Services team on 01903 731244.