Festival Camping…with my Ileostomy

Festival Camping … with Gizmo (My Ileostomy)

Camp Bestival 2012, Dorset – Part 1

The Weekend 25th – 29th July 2012, was one of the best weekends, so far this year. Not only because we had 4 days of glorious weather but also because we were at Camp Bestival.



This was our 2nd year at Camp Bestival as a family and our second time camping. Had you asked me 3 years ago if I would go on a camping holiday I would have replied “Not all the time I have a bum hole” (see previous blogs for explanation). My aversion to camping is two fold, personal experiences of camping in the 1980’s as a child – Flash Floods and Freezing etc. and also because I have an Ileostomy (Google Ileosotomy or see Previous Blog but it’s like a Colostomy).

In my single party girl years I wasn’t interested in Festivals, Instead I was jetting of to Ayia Napa, Cyprus, for Clubbing holidays. All these years later, I’ve always felt like I missed out Festi wise. 

Then we had Callum, my 3yr old son, and I thought that was the end of adventurous holidays for us. How wrong was I?

A couple of our friends and family went to Camp Bestival 3 years ago with their kids. One of the children was a baby under 6 months. They all still talk about how great it was now (and still I can’t imagine camping with a child under 6 months!).

Before they’d even finished telling me all about I wanted to book tickets for the next year. While I thought, at a push, I could cope with camping for 4 days. I wasn’t sure about being able to cope with my Ileo, especially with no proper bathroom facilities. But I refuse to let my bag to hold me back and most importantly I don’t want it preventing my son, Callum, from having fun.


So the only way to get through it was to approach it like a Military Mission. First off were Tent negotiations with Mr SM. Whilst we didn’t want to spend a lot on a tent, as this could be the first and last time we use it, I wanted a tent with at least 3 rooms – 2 sleeping areas and 1 living/communal area. After all it would be hard enough changing a bag in a tent, let alone trying to do it whilst hunched and balancing -surfer style- on a blow up bed.

We managed to get a great deal, from Halfords, a Complete Camping Kit for £89 and included:

3 Room Tent
2 Double Blow Up Beds
4 Sleeping Bags
2 Lights
One Ring Camping Stove
Cooking Pans
Food Storage Boxes

Everything else we pretty much borrowed the first time round, this year we added to camping supplies but still borrowed the bigger items – Table, Cooking stand etc

One of the best items we bought this year was a Gazebo with Mesh sides. We did a lot of research on the different gazebo’s as anyone that has ever been camping has a horror story involving wind and Gazebo’s! After some deliberation we went with a camping make, Oztek, hoping that it would be both compact and sturdy. The point of the gazebo was to create an extra area, that would be pretty waterproof and windproof. Turned out to be a fantastic choice

Next was the ‘What to take list’. Having been trapped abroad before by Volcanic 
Ash-Gate a couple of years ago, I now know the importance of at least doubling the amount Ostomy Supplies I expected to use. I take triple especially when in the middle of nowhere. Then of course there is the extra clothing issue, both day and nightwear, in case of leaks and burst bags. Being a girl I have no problem with taking more clothes than anyone else. The clothes I keep to hand in a waterproof bag, in the tent. The Ostomoy supplies I split between the car and tent, that way any freak weather that creates havoc with our tent isn’t going to leave me with nothing usable.

So Wednesday arrives, we load up the car and make our way to Poole. Camp Bestival opens on Thursday for people to set up their tents etc. So that you can set up your tent without missing out on anything when the Festival ‘Opens’ on the Friday.  To break up the journey from Herne Bay to East Lulworth, we stay in a Holiday Inn near Poole Harbour which is just 30 minutes from the Camp Bestival site. No toddler wants to be sat in a car for 3 – 4 hours and no sane parent wants to start pitching a tent after that drive. It also means that you don’t have to get up to early to bag a decent pitch, if your in the normal camping area. Boutique and Camping Plus have designated pitches, so you can arrive when you want. 

The first year we went with normal camping but this year we upgraded to Camping Plus for the following reasons:

Designated and Larger Pitch
More Toilet Options (Portaloo, Compost and Portacabin)
Showers (They do have these in normal camping but you have to pay)

Last year, the realisation of Portaloo’s was the point were I had a panic attack, crying and saying ‘I can’t do this’ and ‘I want to go home’. Ever my champion though my husband convinced me to ‘at least give it a try and if it’s too much we’ll leave’

It took a couple of tries to work out the best way to empty my bag into the different loo’s. Despite especially clean for ‘Festival Toilets’ I still wouldn’t want to kneel in front of the toilet and empty that way. Being smaller too the seat hole area is also very narrow – these are my tips.

Portaloo – I sit and empty my bag into a Biodegradable Nappy Bag, If you try to empty it between your legs it just ends up all over your legs. One your done, tie up the Nappy Bag, whilst trying to get as much air out as possible and pop it down the pan.

Portacabin Loo – These have the widest seat area and I am able to empty the bag straight into the pan, as I normally would. If you still struggle though there is still the option of emptying into a Nappy Bag and placing it in a Sanitary Disposal bin. 

Compost Loo – These are situated higher than the normal loo, so I stand in front of the loo (like a man) and empty it down the pan in that way. Again if your not keen on that they provide buckets with lids for Nappies and Sanitary wear so the Nappy Bag trick can be used again. 

There is one more bonus with the Nappy Bag, if like me you wake up about 4am because you bag is full of gas and you don’t want to traipse the all be it short distance in the dark and chilly night air, you kneel in the tent and empty straight into the bag!!


A must for anyone is to carry a toilet roll and Alcohol rub, although the organisers at CB are pretty organised at keeping the loo’s well stocked. For any ostomate I recommend carrying a small make-up type bed (15cm x 15cm apx) to carry some emergency supplies/ Bag of tricks for any manageable leaks whilst you are out on the site. In mine I have: 

  • Small travel size pack of sensitive Wet Wipes 
  • Adhesive Remover & Protection Wiped x2
  • 2 Stoma bags
  • Adhesive Remover Spray 
  • Always Type Sanitary Towel – Perfect for an emergency patch to plug a leak
Other than that, I just get on an enjoy the festival like everyone else, this year I went just after a Hernia Op on my Stoma so I had a camp bed to sleep on because I was still in too much pain to be able to get myself up off an airbag.  There is a hospital tent on site (most festivals have these) run by fully qualified medical staff and NHS approved. Not only does it give you piece of mind that you can get medical assistance if you need it. They also offer a service where you can leave your medication for safe storage, should you not be happy leaving it in the tent. Again I split mine between the car and tent (CB has a low if non-existent crime rate). This year, being post op, I had Oramorph with me. Imagine my panic when in the night I knocked the bottle over it and lost over the half contents. I spoke to Doctor in charge who told me that should I run out, as long as I had the bottle with prescription label and photo ID, I could attend the Hospital Tent and they’d give me a dose when due. 



So that is my review of Camp Bestival as an Ostomate – part 2 will be my review of Camp Besti as a Festival Goer!!




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One thought on “Festival Camping…with my Ileostomy

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