Having a urinary diversion need not prevent you from travelling. It is only natural to be apprehensive and to overcome this it is necessary to give the trip a little more thought than you did before your surgery. This leaflet contains information you may find useful.
A small travel kit containing the items for a change of stoma appliance or catheter equipment as necessary should be with you at all times, even when just going out for a short while. This will ensure that you can deal with any eventuality that may arise.
Driving/travelling by road or rail
After your operation you should not drive until your Consultant decides you can resume. You must be able to do an emergency stop, reverse and be alert for the whole of the time you are driving.
If you have a Motability vehicle you should inform the insurers about your operation to ensure that you would be covered by insurance should an accident occur. If you are unsure about the disclosure of information to your motor insurer, you may wish to discuss this with your GP, Consultant or Specialist Nurse.
If you have a urostomy you may find it more comfortable when driving to use a special attachment to your seat belt, which releases tension around your urostomy pouch, but tightens automatically when necessary. These are available from most motoring accessory shops.
You may find it helpful when making a long journey, particularly on motorways, when you might get stuck in a traffic jam, to have a night drainage bag in the vehicle, since it is sometimes difficult to find a public toilet in these situations, but you would be able to empty your pouch into the night bag. The night bag can be enclosed in a bag, so that it is not visible to others and after use emptied at a more convenient time.
Alternatively, an empty screw-top bottle can be useful or a new type of container which contains gel to solidify the urine. Do not leave stoma appliances in your car during hot weather as this may cause the adhesive to become weaker. However, always keep spare pouches, wipes and a disposal bag with you whenever you are away from home.
RADAR – National Key Scheme
The National Key Scheme (NKS), previously known as the Royal Association for Disability Rights (RADAR), operates to enable access to disabled toilets throughout the UK. Anyone who has undergone a urinary diversion is entitled to one. The key is supplied for a one-off small fee and a list of disabled toilets is also available.
Disabled toilets are usually well maintained and provide a better and usually larger environment for people with a urinary diversion to empty or change their pouch or use their catheter.
RADAR can be contacted at:
12 City Forum, 250 City Road, London, EC1V 8AF
Tel: 0207 2503222
Website: www.radar.org.uk (radar shop page)
No waiting cards
These cards are helpful for people with a urinary diversion who may need to obtain speedy access to a toilet. It can be advantageous in a shop or petrol station, where the facilities are normally reserved for staff use. Cards are available from the Urostomy Association National Secretary.
Medical identification bracelets
A medical identification bracelet enables a medically qualified person, in an emergency, to obtain information about your medical history. A number of companies (e.g. Talisman, Medic-Alert) offer a service where information is stored either in a pendant or bracelet. This may be very useful when travelling and give you peace of mind.
These items can be purchased and then a small fee payable annually for your details to be held on computer. An international telephone number on the pendant/bracelet enables basic information about your past treatment to be given to those caring for you. It is also possible to record details of your next of kin and your Consultant.
Travelling by air
Whenever you travel by air you should divide your supplies between your hand luggage and hold luggage. This will ensure that when you reach your destination, you can change your stoma pouch or use your catheter, even if your main luggage is delayed. It should be borne in mind, however, that scissors are no longer allowed in the cabin of an aircraft, so these must be packed in your main luggage. If you have a urostomy make certain you have a few pre-cut flanges in your hand luggage. It is advisable to remove appliances from their boxes and pack them in polythene bags, as this saves space and weight.
If you are going abroad and you have a urostomy make sure that you take twice the normal quantity of stoma equipment that you would normally use. In hot countries keep your supplies stored in a cool place (perhaps the bathroom) and be aware that you may need to change your appliance more frequently, due to increased perspiration.
Your baggage may be inspected at the security baggage check at airports. A Travel Certificate in several languages can be obtained from the Association’s National Secretary. This explains the need for your supplies and should be signed by your GP. Remember that if you have a urostomy and are called to one side to be “patted down” by a security guard, or asked to go through a body scanner, it may be beneficial to explain that you are wearing an appliance.
When booking your flight, you may prefer to ask for an aisle seat and note the location of the toilet on board the aircraft.
Travel insurance is essential when travelling abroad, covering loss of personal items and money, as well as the cancellation of the holiday. However, it is vital to ensure that your policy does not exclude “pre-existing conditions”, i.e. any medical condition that existed before the date of taking out the policy.
The Association’s National Secretary is able to provide information about travel insurance suitable for people with a urinary diversion. If you are travelling to the European Union and certain other countries, there are reciprocal health agreements which entitle you to free emergency medical treatment. To claim this you must have an EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) which is available from your local Post Office or online. It is free and valid for five years. Some treatments are free and some you may have to pay for.
Do make sure that when travelling in hot countries you increase your fluid intake. Purchasing bottled water is a very sensible precaution to take (and may be essential in some countries). Remember that alcohol will accelerate dehydration.
- Obtain the correct travel insurance and check for any exclusions.
- Pack twice the amount of your normal supplies.
- Divide your supplies between your hand and main luggage, but pack scissors in your main luggage.
- Travel to the airport and check in early.
- Ask for a convenient seat in order that you can access the toilet easily.
- Make sure that your supplies are secure and packed in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Take your travel certificate with you.
- Take your EHIC card with you (if applicable).
11th June 2020