Back in July I went on my first proper camping trip with my ostomy! When I say “proper”, we weren’t in the middle of the wilderness without any facilities (we stayed at a very respectable campground in Cornwall that had more than adequate bathroom facilities), however it also wasn’t quite as upmarket or comfortable as my several glamping experiences with an ostomy! Glamping … think proper flushing ensuite toilet attached to our nice A-frame hut where we could actually stand up straight!!
Like most first-time ostomy experiences where I had a few concerns beforehand, these were completely unfounded, and I had no issues at all. We spent 3 nights at Gwithian campsite in Cornwall and it was fantastic!
We toured around St Michael’s mount, went to the pretty little village of Mousehole (which my childhood pet Labrador was named after 🐶), the Minack theatre built into the cliffside overlooking the bluest of blue water, and had our ice-creams attacked by seagulls in St Ives (we were warned but are now traumatised for life!!). Cornish pasties, delicious seafood and several campsite BBQs (with toasted marshmallows of course)! A beach day and walk along Gwithian beach, and a leisurely drive home via a pub lunch at the pretty Cott Inn, a walk around arty Totnes and a glimpse of Stonehenge! Phew! Long way and lots packed in, but still relaxing and totally worth it 😄
I was a little concerned when we arrived late on Friday night after a long drive from London to find that our pitch was about as far from the main reception and toilet facilities as you could get! This was nice as it meant it was quieter and we didn’t need to worry so much about disturbing our neighbours, but it also meant we were at least 400-500 metres from the toilet and shower block!
Thankfully and somewhat miraculously, I managed to make it through every night without needing to empty my bag (which is normally unheard of for me)! Admittedly I did burp my bag once or twice during the night (not the best idea in a sleeping bag or confined tent)! Maybe it was sheer determination, but there was no way in the world I was going to get up in the middle of the night and traipse to the toilets! When I posted a picture on facebook asking for other ostomates camping experiences, a few people suggested asking for a pitch near the toilet block (common sense) or taking a porta potty so you could empty in the tent, but I think that would definitely have been an absolute last report for me! By morning I did have a pretty severe case of balloon bag (especially after a few beers around the camp BBQ the night before!), but emptying just before bed, and heading straight to the toilets as soon as I woke up (always early when the sun comes up when you’re camping), everything worked out fine. 🏕🏕🏕
In terms of bag changes, we were only away for a short time, and I’d changed my bag the day before we left and the day we got back, so I didn’t need to change during the trip. Had I needed to it might have been a bit tricky. I couldn’t see myself changing it laying down in the tent, and there was virtually zero privacy in the toilet block unless I changed it in the shower or toilet cubicle (my usual method is standing over the bathroom sink), which would have been doable but not ideal. I did notice a separate disabled loo which probably would have been the best option (I am sure I could have asked for a key). Having a tent you could stand up in would certainly have made things easier, so that’s something I would keep in mind for next time or for a longer camping trip.
My only other concern was storing my supplies. I didn’t want to leave them in the hot tent that became a furnace during the day, so I took them with us in the car when we went out, or left them inside the cooler bag if we were at the campsite!
The facilities at campsites vary A LOT, so it definitely pays to do a bit of research before booking! My other tip is to take a head torch – it can come in very handy (not just for ostomates)!
Overall my first camping with an ostomy experience was excellent – great campsite, beautiful scenery, perfect weather, great food and fabulous company! ⛺🌞🏖 I don’t think I’m quite ready for free camping without any facilities yet (that’s a bit too big of a leap from glamping!!), but I would definitely do it again.
As one of our friends who was with us said (and this seems quite fitting for us ostomates) “There’s no good or bad only boundless freedom!”
Camping with an ostomy! Is it for you? Yes? No? Maybe? Have you camped with an ostomy? Any tips?