Preparing for travel
Whether you're travelling in the UK or abroad, preparation is key. I always order extra products in advance of the holiday, and pack extra to take with me.
Flying in particular, I would advise some precautions. In case of lost baggage, divide your stoma appliances between yours and your partner's luggage in case of losses. I always pack a couple of full bag change kits in the hand luggage too. Remember that you're not allowed to take scissors in hand luggage so precut (or order precut flanges) your appliances beforehand. Also bear in mind you can't take sprays or liquids over 100ml on flights so pack smaller containers of things like pastes and deodorants etc. It's sometimes helpful to get a GP's note to explain any prescriptions on you as this may be helpful if you are checked for any reason.
It is very worth it to check with your stoma supplier beforehand whether they have an agreement with foreign suppliers that can deliver to you in the event of an emergency abroad.
Whether travelling in Europe or wider afield, it is always advisable to get comprehensive travel insurance before you go. Don't leave it to chance or be tempted to skip it as you can be left with terribly high medical bills, especially outside of the EU Zone.Always tell your insurer if there is a change in your health condition, diagnosis, in-patient treatment history or medication as failure to do so can invalidate your policy. The last thing you want is to find that out when your facing a big hospital bill abroad. Always pack a spare copy of your travel insurance and Assistance helpline with you should you run into trouble abroad.
Also, don't be tempted to rely solely on a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). Not all countries in the EEC provide free or subsidised healthcare, and you may not get 100% of your medical bill paid. I took ill on holiday in France, and even though I had a EHIC, I was required to pay €150 for an Xray and a morphine jab and then had to claim it back through the Department for Work and Pensions here in the UK.
Getting travel insurance can be a confusing business. I was able to obtain a decent, cheap worldwide policy on the high street when I travelled to the Dominican Republic as I had been in remission for a while. They covered my Crohn's and my ileostomy. However, I had to search for specialist insurers covering pre-existing medical conditions when I'd had in-patient treatment in recent months. It was slightly more expensive but worth it for peace of mind.
Heat can degrade your stoma products, particularly hydrocolloidal pastes and adhesives. Store your products in a cool and dry place when abroad. It may also be worthwhile checking with your stoma supplier whether they offer a appliance carry-case, which in many cases is foil lined to keep overheating to a minimum.
Follow common sense and avoid a bout of diarrhoea on holiday as dehydration can really make us Crohnies feel ill.
- Drink bottled water
- Avoid salads & peeled fruits washed in local water
- Check sources of water for the ice cubes
- Be mindful when eating from buffets as food may have been there a while
- Pack loperamide and rehydration sachets just in case
I hope the above was helpful. Happy travelling!
Useful links and further reading:
European Health Insurance Card: https://www.ehic.org.uk
Healthcare Abroad (NHS): http://www.nhs.uk/nhsengland/Healthcareabroad/pages/Healthcareabroad.aspx
IA Insurers List: http://www.iasupport.org/faq_travel.aspx
NACC Travel Information Sheet: http://www.nacc.org.uk/downloads/factsheets/Travel_and_IBD.pdf