There’s no need to shy away from the truth here. For those of us living with IBS, traveling means trouble in the poop department. If even the thought of traveling makes your bowels lock up, take a breath and relax. I’ve got you covered.
Stress from traveling can be a major trigger for IBS symptoms. While you may not be able to control all of the factors that cause stress, there are some things you can do to help lower your chances of symptoms, or even just help them not be as severe. Take a look at these tips and give some a try on your next trip!
Choose low FODMAP options as much as you can. Yes, you may not eat your favorite meal every meal, but reducing symptoms to enjoy your trip is 100% worth it!
Keep trigger food portions, and meal sizes, small. Sometimes all you need to do is eat a smaller portion to avoid symptoms! If you eat large portions all day, your gut will be overloaded and you may not feel your best.
Pack snacks! Find low-FODMAP snacks that you enjoy and load your bag with them. This comes in handy when you're stuck at the airport, or when you eat a small meal due to triggers and need more calories until your next meal. My favorites? Carrot sticks, GoMacro bars, Fody Foods dark chocolate bars, pecans and macadamia nuts, and firm bananas with peanut butter. Check out this post for more low FODMAP snack ideas!
Drink plenty of water & watch out for those hidden triggers in drinks. Try choosing a wine to avoid mixers, or mix your favorite low-FODMAP liquor with something simple like ginger and lime! For coffee, try to limit your intake to 1 cup/day and if you choose a latte, add a non-dairy milk.
Avoid super tight clothing. It won't help your digestion & won't help with confidence if you're bloated.
Be bold and ask restaurants if they can omit trigger foods like onion and garlic from your meals. They may say no, but it never hurts to ask. And if they say yes, you'll feel so much better the rest of the day!
Move your body! Incorporate plenty of movement throughout the day by walking between locations, trying a local workout class, or doing an online yoga/pilates video in your hotel room. If you can wake up, drink water, and do gentle movement like walking, pilates, yoga, or barre before you start your day, that could help support digestion and relieve constipation!
If you use medications for severe symptoms, don't forget to bring them. The anxiety of travel may heighten symptoms, so if you know you may need something to relieve severe constipation or diarrhea, pack it first and use it.
Be mindful! If you are someone who loves to indulge in local eats when you're away (hello, me too!), be mindful as you eat and drink. If you take time to be present with food, you can enjoy it to the point of being satisfied and avoid overeating it, or drinking so much that you black out. This practice helps with digestion because you're not overloading your gut with foods you don't typically eat, but it also helps you fully enjoy foods without feeling too stuffed after.
Plan ahead to reduce anxiety. If traveling stresses you out, give yourself plenty of time to plan ahead, pack well, and communicate your needs to your travel companions! You'll be surprised how much this helps.
Have groceries at home for your arrival to avoid grabbing more food on the go days after you get home. It's hard settling back into routine, so it's nice to either stock your fridge before you go, or order groceries on your way home to be delivered when you get there. I like to use Instacart or Thrive Market for this!
Do you have more travel tips to share with your fellow IBSers? Comment below!