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Travelling with a urostomy

by Billy Ritchie

I have never been one who travelled a lot in the past; plane, train, bus, car or bicycle I would just get on with it without thinking, however in December 2010 due to bowel cancer I ended up with an ostomy (urostomy, for urine) and thought that getting back to any kind of travelling would be difficult.

In the last few years my lifestyle has changed and now I need to travel more often, using various forms of transport, and I have found that having an ostomy doesn’t hinder me at all.

A few examples:

me+ Advocate travel blog Billy bike

Bicycle
The first time I attempted a one way 68-mile journey, I had to weigh up the need to stop every couple of hours to empty my bag against the need to drink to keep hydrated. There is not a lot you can do about that; hydration while exercising is important and what I found to my surprise was that there was less urine output while exercising, so over the 6-hour cycle I only stopped once.

Car
I enjoy long car journeys. One such journey was from Edinburgh down to Land’s End and the thought of such a long drive and stopping at service stations was initially quite daunting. My solution, however, I thought was clever: I put a night bag under the car seat and connected it to my appliance and found I could drive for hours without stopping for the loo. I just stopped for a rest and a cup of tea every 3 hours.

Trains and Bus
Lately I have used trains for journeys from 40 min to 6 hours, and bus journeys that are about 2 hours long. I am happy to report that all have had toilets, so I have had relaxed journeys.

Planes
I find that, depending on my fluid intake, my urostomy bag can need to be emptied every 2- 3 hours.
So the thought of getting on a plane for an hour or so doesn’t bother me too much, after all, I can attach a leg bag as well.
On one trip, while going through airport security I was selected for further searching. I informed the security personnel that I had a urostomy and was wearing a leg bag (this can cause a lump where the tube goes down over your leg). They were very polite and acknowledged my comments. They did the standard patting down and wand then waved me on my way. No problems.

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