One of my travel anxieties is running out of ostomy supplies. To me, it seems like an easy problem to avoid if you do a little planning when you’re packing for travel with an ostomy. Alexander Graham Bell said it best “Preparation is the key to success.”
How many ostomy supplies to pack
They say to pack 2-3 times as many ostomy supplies as you would typically use in the duration of time that you’ll be gone. For example: if you’re taking a month long vacation, and you typically change your appliance every 5 days, you would probably bring enough supplies for 12 -18 appliance changes (30 days in a month divided by 5 days = 6 changes per month, multiplied by 2 or 3). If you’re prone to leaks or are traveling to a place with way different weather than you’re used to (like really hot, sweaty, humid weather), you might be pretty liberal with how many changes-worth of supplies you bring. Better safe than sorry right?
The longer the trip, the higher risk of leak, but also a greater chance you’ll have enough supplies to cover you based on the above calculations. I almost always bring enough supplies for at least 5 appliance changes even if it’s a short trip. Just in case.
How to pack ostomy supplies for air travel
If you’re flying, you can just put them in your carry-on. In America you CAN bring your base-plate cutting scissors in your carry-on. If you’re still nervous, cut a couple base-plates to your normal size and then put your scissors in your checked bag. TSA’s rule about scissors is that the blades must be less than 4″ from the pivot point – standard base-plate scissors have blades much shorter than 4″.
If you have questions or concerns about traveling through security with your ostomy supplies in America, you can reach out to TSA’s Passenger Support.
I’ve also flown through Mexico and New Zealand airports with my supplies in my carry-on and been allowed through. In New Zealand they searched my bag and let me go on my way. In Mexico I don’t recall them stopping me at all. I do recall being really nervous though!
If you’re flying and checking luggage, it’s a good idea to keep some supplies in your carry-on and some in your luggage. In this instance, bring 3 times as many supplies as you expect to need, split between both pieces of luggage. This way, you’ll still have a few extra supplies in the event that one of your pieces of luggage is lost.
How to pack ostomy supplies for car travel
If you’re driving, easy peasy. To keep your supplies at a more stable temperature, keep them in the car with you. It’s wise to avoid keeping them in the trunk of your car or sitting in direct line with the sun. Keeping your supplies in a cooler bag without ice can give them some insulation from heat as well. You don’t have to put ice in the cooler, you just want your supplies to be kept around room temperature. Ostomy supplies are made of many different materials including adhesives so getting too hot (or cold) could compromise the efficacy.
Here’s some more travel tips I’ve compiled about packing for travel with an ostomy. Now go take a vacation with peace of mind that you’ve remembered to bring what your ostomy might need.