Travelling with a stoma

If you have a colostomy, ileostomy or tracheostomy, there may be a few things to think about before travelling. Your stoma nurse can give you advice on most of these – such as diet and activities while you’re away.

Make sure you take enough stoma supplies with you. It often helps to take more than you need, in case you need to change your appliance more often than usual.

If you’ve had a colostomy or ileostomy, avoid spicy foods, fizzy drinks, alcohol and foods that cause wind before you travel. Your GP or stoma nurse can advise you on anti-diarrhoea tablets and rehydration powders that you can take in case you have diarrhoea.

It may be useful to take a travel certificate with you. This includes details of your condition so you don’t have to explain it to travel officials or airport staff. Your stoma care nurse should be able to provide one. This needs to be signed by your GP.

There are specialist organisations that can give you information specific to your condition – and advice on getting travel insurance.

If you have a stoma

If you have a stoma (opening on your tummy), such as a colostomy, ileostomy or urostomy, you will need to think about certain things before you travel. People with an opening in their windpipe to breathe through (tracheostomy) will also have to prepare before going away.

Having a stoma doesn’t have to stop you from travelling, but you may need to plan your trip more carefully.

Getting information

Your stoma nurse can give you advice about issues such as:

  • your diet while you are abroad
  • activities like swimming
  • how high temperatures can affect the glue used to secure the stoma bags.

If you have a urostomy, colostomy, an ileostomy or a tracheostomy, there are specialist organisations that can give you information specific to your condition. 

Stoma supplies

Having a stoma should not stop you from travelling, but you may need to plan your trip more carefully. It is important to make sure you have enough stoma supplies with you and that they are spread between all items of your luggage.

It helps to take more than you may need, in case you need to change your appliance more often than usual or you are away for longer than planned. This is especially important if you are going somewhere with a hot climate. 

Some stoma suppliers will deliver abroad. It is helpful to check whether your supplier offers this service. You should store stoma bags in a cool place, away from direct sunlight.

Colostomy and ileostomy

If you have had a colostomy or ileostomy, it is important to be careful about what you eat the day before you travel. 

Avoid spicy foods, fizzy drinks, alcohol and foods that cause wind. If you are travelling on a plane, the changes in air pressure may cause increased wind in the stoma bag. It may help to add an extra flatus filter, which helps wind to escape.

Your GP or stoma nurse can give you advice on medicines you can take if you have diarrhoea, for example anti-diarrhoea tablets (such as loperamide) and rehydration powders (such as Dioralyte®). These can be bought in a chemist or prescribed by your GP. If the diarrhoea is severe or continues for more than 48 hours, it is important to see a doctor.

Insurance and travel certificates

A travel certificate includes details of your condition so you do not have to explain it to travel officials, including airport security staff. The certificate will include your name, address and passport number, and it will be signed by your doctor.

People with ileostomies can get a travel certificate by contacting IA (The Ileostomy and Internal Pouch Support Group). You can ask for translated certificates in a variety of languages. The Colostomy Association and Urostomy Association can also provide travel certificates in many different languages. Your stoma care nurse should also be able to give you a travel certificate. 

These support organisations can give you advice on travel insurance to make sure you are properly covered for your condition.


Stoma supplies

Having a stoma shouldn’t stop you from travelling, but you may need to plan your trip more carefully. It’s important to make sure you have stoma supplies, which should be spread between all items of your luggage.

Make sure you take enough stoma supplies with you. It helps to take more than you think you’ll need, in case you need to change your appliance more often than usual or in case you’re away for longer than planned. This is especially important if you’re going somewhere with a hot climate. Some suppliers will deliver abroad. It’s helpful to check whether your supplier offers this service. You should store stoma bags in a cool place out of direct sunlight.


Colostomy and ileostomy

If you’ve had a colostomy or ileostomy, it’s important to be careful about what you eat the day before you travel. Avoid spicy foods, fizzy drinks, alcohol and foods that cause wind. If you’re flying, the changes in air pressure may cause problems with increased wind in the stoma bag. It may help to add an extra flatus filter, which helps wind to escape, on to the bag. Your GP or stoma nurse can advise you on anti-diarrhoea tablets (such as loperamide) and rehydration powders (such as Dioralyte®) you can take in case you have diarrhoea. These tablets and powders can be bought in a chemist or prescribed by your GP. If the diarrhoea is severe or continues for more than 48 hours, it’s important to see a doctor.


Insurance and travel certificates

A travel certificate includes details of your condition so you do not have to explain it to travel officials, including airport security staff. The certificate will include your name, address and passport number and will be signed by your doctor.

People with ileostomies can get a travel certificate by contacting IA (The Ileostomy and Internal Pouch Support Group). IA’s travel certificate has translations in a variety of languages. The Colostomy Association and Urostomy Association can also provide travel certificates in a number of different languages. Alternatively, your stoma care nurse should be able to provide a travel certificate. Travel Certificates should be signed by your GP.

All three stoma patient support groups, Colostomy Association, IA (the ileostomy and internal pouch Support Group) and the Urostomy Association, can give you advice on travel insurance to make sure you are properly covered for your condition.

We have more information on travel insurance.

Back to Preparing to travel

Travel services

Travel services often have facilities, staff or schemes to help make your trip safe.

Checklist for travel

Whether you’re travelling abroad or in the UK, here’s a list of things to consider before you leave.