Sources: Convatec, me+, UOAA, TSA
Take your shoes off. Take off your belt, your jacket and your watch. Take your laptop out of your luggage and empty your pockets. Airport security is complicated. And now that you have an ostomy, it can be even more challenging. But there are tips and tools to ensure your easy passage through security.
Extra security precautions are being taken at airports and other transit hubs worldwide. A little pre-planning and understanding of both security rules and your right to privacy can help you avoid problems in transit and enjoy your travels.
In particular, remember that all airport screenings must be conducted with courtesy, dignity and respect. You may request screening in a private area at all U.S. airports and most international destinations.
A few additional tips to keep you on the go:
- Carry a statement from your healthcare professional stating your need for ostomy supplies. You can also download and print the UOAA discreet TSA card to show to security officers with questions.
∙ TSA rules state that you can be screened without having to empty or expose your ostomy; however, you may need to conduct a self pat-down of the ostomy, followed by a test of your hands for any trace of explosives. During heightened security levels, you may experience a rather intrusive pat-down due to the pouch appearing on the x-ray as a square near the groin area.
∙ If you are traveling to a foreign country, bring this information written in the appropriate language. GoogleTranslate may be helpful with translations. If you find you need additional supplies while traveling, a local pharmacy is a great starting point. The local pharmacist should be able to provide you with the necessary supplies and/or refer you to a local clinic/hospital for support.
- Pre-cut all cut-to-fit barriers at home. Although current United States Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) rules allow curved point scissors with blades less than 4″ in length in your carry-on luggage, keeping your ostomy scissors in your checked luggage may avoid delay and extra screening. Or, use Moldable Technology™ skin barriers. They mold directly around your stoma and don’t require scissors.
- Consider purchasing travel insurance that guarantees getting you to a hospital, if necessary.
- When it comes to supplies, OVERPACK! Better safe than sorry. Be prepared for anything by packing supplies in your carry-on and in your checked luggage. Pack at least three days’ worth of ostomy supplies in your carry-on luggage—just in case your checked luggage is misplaced. Pack one of everything you need into a small tote or purse so you can get to it easily in the airport or on the plane without digging through your luggage. Plus, airplane restrooms are tiny, so you don’t want to wrestle a backpack or roll-aboard in with you.
- Take extra supplies, in case of delays and/or non-availability at your destination.
- Check the weather forecast for your destination. Warm weather may affect how your skin barriers adhere to your skin, by making the adhesive between your pouch and skin weaker. Be aware of the weather at your destination and prepare accordingly.
- Drink, drink, drink. Nothing slows down a vacation more than dehydration.
- If traveling by car, take advantage of rest areas. Stop and empty your pouch regularly; you never know how far it will be until the next one! Packing one of everything you need into a small tote applies here also!
- Pack ostomy-friendly snacks.
- Keep a set of clean clothes handy whether in your carry-on luggage or in the trunk of your car.
- Carry a few plastic bags and wet wipes for quick cleanup.