Travelling with confidence

08 September 2023

This month, Illeostomy and Internal Pouch Association discusses the key information needed when travelling

Not all stomas are the same, which is why it is vital to get the information and support that’s right for you. We are Ileostomy and Internal Pouch Association — known as IA — the national charity for people with an ileostomy or internal pouch, helping our members recover well from surgery and embrace the life they want to live.

For many, this includes travelling, which can sometimes feel daunting, particularly in those first months after your operation. Rest assured though — the world can still be your oyster!

Whatever your destination, following IA’s information and practical tips (available in more detail at will help you prepare well and feel as confident as possible, wherever you are on your journey.

Start with short trips: once you’re happy that your ileostomy bag stays securely in place during day-to-day activities and short trips, you’ll feel more at ease embarking on longer journeys.

Hit the road

Fortunately, you can stop when you need to when travelling by car, and most motorway service areas have plenty of toilet.

Stay on track

Apart from some local services, there are toilets on most trains, though you’ll need a good sense of balance on a
125 mph express!

Sea sense

There are usually adequate toilets onboard a boat/ship, except for short-distance boats.

Fly high

Usually, it’s safe to fly four to six weeks after surgery, but do check with your surgeon or nurse beforehand.
Keep a small travel bag with you on the flight, with a couple of pouches, wipes and disposable bags, so you can make trips to the toilet on the plane quickly and discreetly. Another tip is to carry your stoma supplies in your hand luggage, just in case your suitcase ends up at a different destination.

Do not carry scissors in your hand luggage as they will likely be confiscated. Put these in your suitcase to go in the hold. Some airlines offer additional weight limits for those who carry medical supplies. Check with your airline.

Remember to empty your stoma bag before boarding your plane. Long-haul flights usually present no problem, but it is human nature for there to be a queue for the toilets after meals, so beat the rush — go before the meal!

Eating a low-fibre meal before you fly will reduce the bulk of any bowel motion while onboard.

For going through security checks, our national office can supply you with a multilingual travel certificate explaining your condition, the medical supplies you’re carrying and why you might need support and privacy.

Join our community

When you join IA, you’re part of a community of people seeking advice and support for living with an ileostomy or internal pouch, or caring for someone who does.

How we help:

  • Information and tips
  • One-to-one support
  • Regional meetings and social events
  • Regular 60-page magazine
  • National Information Day, conference, exhibition and gala dinner
  • Website and social media

Joining IA is really straightforward. Find out more at or give us a call on 0800 0184 724

Ileostomy and Internal Pouch Association (IA)
Twitter: @IAsupport