Living with IBD not only causes problems at work, but things we take for granted, such as nights out, going to concerts, or even the weekly shop, become further causes of stress and anxiety. The prospect of making a long road trip, perhaps to visit friends, family, or go on holiday, was something that we thought about but was not usually followed through as planning trips away depended on knowing a precise location and the availability of toilet stops along the way. It was much easier to give it a miss and stay at home.

Thankfully, as an ostomate, this dilemma is a thing of the past. The situation is far more controllable, and with the proper preparations, a long road trip can be successful. Here are a few tips that I have found useful to ensure my journeys are as comfortable as possible.

  1. Try to avoid a large evening meal before you set off the next morning; that way, there’s less chance of your bag being overactive. If you want to have breakfast before you leave, I would suggest something light such as cereal or toast – you can always eat something more substantial when you arrive at your destination.
  2. Make sure you have a drink and also have drinks to take with you for the journey. Staying hydrated is vital when you have a stoma.
  3. It is also important to pack a small bag with spare ostomy products just in case the worst-case scenario occurs, and you have a bag leak en route and have to stop to change your bag. It’s always advisable to have a change of underwear and outer clothes to hand just in case the leak is severe. This may well not be needed, but it’s always worth being prepared. And remember to keep them for the return journey.
  4. Try to focus on enjoying your trip, build the journey into the whole trip, and don’t let having an ostomy overshadow the appreciation of beautiful scenery, for example. You know your own body and understand how your stoma is likely to behave. Personally, I have never had any problems and have not yet had to take advantage of these preparations, but I make sure they’re in place nonetheless.
  5. As a bus driver, I try to stick to routines to make my daily travelling stress-free. I always make sure I empty my bag when I wake up and again before I leave the house. I use the toilet again when I get to work so that I start my driving with a completely empty bag. While on my shift, any visit I make to the toilet to pee (as I always have plenty of fluids to drink, this is quite frequent), I use this opportunity to empty whatever is in my bag. This gives me ongoing peace of mind.

So to sum up, I have to emphasise that road trips with IBD pre-stoma and having my ostomy are worlds apart. Having my stoma has given me back a huge degree of control so that with careful planning and a bit of preparation, my ability to travel around by road is as easy as it has ever been.