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I've traveled across 3 continents and 17 countries with my stoma along for the ride

Most of the things I worried about never happened.

For me, traveling is one of the great joys of life. Just six months after having ileostomy surgery I felt healthier than ever. With the green light from doctors, my husband and I decided to take the trip of a lifetime. We spent ten months traveling through three continents and seventeen countries! And my stoma was on-board for the ride.

Here are a few of the countries I visited:

Cappadocia, Turkey

Laura Zappulla

The beauty of Rose Valley.

There was a small part of me that held some trepidation about leaving home for ten months. Having Crohn's for so long, I relied so heavily on my family, friends, and doctors for support and strength. Yet, much stronger than my apprehension was an overwhelming feeling of joy, exhilaration, and gratitude.

Saigon, Vietnam

Ho Chi Minh or HCMC in Vietnam

Ho Chi Minh City

Flying for the first time with an ostomy had me concerned, but most of the things I worried about never happened. Also on our travels, I quickly learned that toilets and bathrooms around the world are as diverse as the people and culture.

Santorini, Greece

Santorini Greece

Santorini is one of the Cyclades islands in the Aegean Sea.

The challenges of traveling with an ostomy were far fewer than I imagined. I think in some ways it was a benefit! From pre-departure planning and carrying supplies, to emptying and changing the bag in foreign places, eating different foods, and even organizing blood tests, I really had no significant issues at all. Of course, it took a bit of organization, patience, and stamina. All in all, it was smooth sailing.

More posts from Laura: 

My doctor explained why I had a tilted uterus after ileostomy surgery  

My final thoughts on the morning of life-changing ostomy surgery 

Cape Town, South Africa


Table Mountain in the background.

As we traveled, I wrote down thoughts about my experience in each country. I wanted to do this for other ostomates to offer hints and tips on what to do and what not to do, and hopefully prove traveling with an ostomy can be very doable!

Brittany, France

Laura Zappulla in Brittany, France

Brittany is located in the northwest corner of France.

I try to live in the moment as much as possible and continue to make the most of every day no matter how I'm feeling. Particularly while we were traveling, I'd sit and reflect at the end of the day to count my blessings for my health.

Paris, France

Paris, France

The Eiffel Tower

I hope this helps and inspires other people who may be struggling with their ostomies and shows that there can be life after a stoma. For me, so far, it has given me back my life and enabled me to fulfill some lifelong dreams that for a long time I feared would never be possible.

Zakopane, Poland

Tatra mountains near Zakopane, Poland

Tatra mountains near Zakopane, Poland

It’s no secret that I love to travel! You’re probably sick of seeing photos with my belly and bag out around the world by now. Well sorry folks, but you’re in for more! Michael and I are moving from the bright lights and sunshine of Sydney's summer to the brighter lights (but grayer, wetter skies!) of London's winter. Watch for many more “Where in the World is my Stoma?” photos on Facebook.

Article credit: Stomalicious