Travelling with IBD and a Stoma

Let’s get out there!

For the majority of people who live with IBD, they have to travel. Either commuting to and from their jobs or taking trips; some will rely on the public transport network – trains, buses and coaches – to do this. While I have been a commuter in my own transport, the majority of my working life – and thus my time being diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease –  I have commuted.

Preparing for Public Transport

Commuting for work or just visiting the country, using public transport can be a little daunting when you’ve got IBD. If you are particularly symptomatic; you can worry about leaks, accidents, lack of space, being uncomfortable as well as no time for toilet visits or breaks in your journey. You are very much at the hands of someone else’s timetable.

However, you can be prepared for some of the regularity of using public transport:

  • If on a train, reserve a seat. This has saved me plenty of times since my stoma surgery.
  • Plan your journey as a direct train – if possible! – or with a long enough break to allow a delay and a toilet break.
  • Follow on from that one; check out the facilities of your station.
  • On coaches, I tend to ensure they are direct and usually the fastest route.
  • I always aim to book a refundable ticket with some flexibility so that I can rearrange if unwell or use different services if I need a break.
  • On buses, I always visit the toilet before boarding but like to arrive and board before the departure time.
  • If travelling into London I have my ‘offer me a seat’ badge and card so I can at least make my fellow passengers aware I might need a seat. You can yours here.

Managing Symptoms

Some days you have to travel when you are experiencing symptoms – either as part of your commuting for your job or to an event, seeing family or friends. As well as managing the ongoing symptoms you could be experiencing on a daily basis, some times others can pop up when travelling too. Being prepared is a good way to combat these:

  • Keep spare medications such as Imodium or pain relief in your bag when travelling.
  • Travel with an additional set of stoma supplies if you have an ostomy – a leak could happen at anytime.
  • Spare underwear, just in case!
  • Try to avoid too much caffeine or foods that aggravate your condition.
  • But on the flip side, don’t go without food or fluids just because you don’t want to use the toilet.
  • Get a Radar Key for accessing public disabled toilets – you can get one here or receive one free with your membership to CCUK or from your home delivery company for stoma supplies.

Coping with Travel Anxiety

Relying on someone else to transport you can add an additional pressure on to everyday life with IBD. For some, driving is just too much for either their symptoms – mental and / or physical – but even so, travelling by any means can be a stressful time.

  • Plan ahead is my best advice for all aspects of travelling.
  • Don’t rush but least yourself plenty of time.
  • Try some deep breathing techniques to help calm down if you get anxious.
  • Know the route your taking by looking ahead.
  • Travel as comfortably as possible.
  • Take a book or some music with you to distract you.
  • I’ve found podcasts, Headspace and Calm great for helping me stay chilled out. The two apps have meditation and relaxation courses to utilise. Click on the links above to sign up and download.

How do you get on with travelling?


Do you have any questions or queries? Or just want to share your own experiences? 

You can leave me a reply here or comment via my social media accounts – on Twitter, find my blog page on Facebook and over on Instagram

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