I absolutely love to travel and wish I could do it more often. I have travelled to the Bahamas, throughout the United States, and to Europe with my ostomy. Can you imagine sitting on a plane for more than eight hours with an ostomy? It’s possible! In fact, I am travelling back home next week and have no concerns about flying. Some tips that I have about travelling:
1) Bring your supplies on the plane with you! A plane is the last place you want to have a leak or accident and have no supplies with you.
2) Go to www.ostomy.org and print out the “Travel Communication Card” to assist you with getting through TSA. Please remember, this does not exclude you from going through the screening; it is just a helpful piece of identification to have for TSA to recognize and guide you through with discretion and sensitivity.
3) Think about getting an aisle seat in case you have to use the bathroom more frequently. It’s easier to access than climbing over two people.
I have the Travel Communication Card and carry it with me every time I travel. I’ve given it to TSA and even though they developed it, not everyone knows what it is or what it means. Be ready to explain what it is if asked. At times, I’ve been asked what is in my right pocket. I know exactly what they mean and simply reply that I have an ostomy. You may need to educate here as well because many times, they have no idea what an ostomy is either. Surprise surprise! Most times, they pull me aside, have me pat down my ostomy (with my ostomy still underneath my clothes) and then test my fingers for residue. Sometimes, they take you back to a private room and ask to see (all I’ve had to do is lift my shirt and they go “Ohhh” and then that’s it). I’ve only had one incident where I was very offended and my mother wrote a letter to our local TSA office to complain. I was going through TSA and the staff member asked me to step aside. She then proceeds to yell to her colleague three lines down “I have someone here with an ostomy. What do I need to do?” I was appalled and just stared at her. I regret now that I didn’t say anything. I think I was so shocked by what just happened. A few other passengers in line looked at me and the staff member kept talking, not thinking of my feelings at all. When I told my mom, she was furious and wrote a letter to our TSA office. Got to love our parents! These incidents are hopefully few and far between. I encourage you to travel all over the world and to continue doing what you love!