Travel Tummy Troubles Solved

As we approach the holiday travel season, we tend to hear more complaints about GI issues that arise during this time. Here are some tips from our GI expert dietitian Catherine Johnston, MS, RD, LD!

What is travel constipation?

Constipation that occurs particularly while traveling, may or may not be related to regular digestive issues.

Why does is happen?

Travel constipation can be related to many factors, but most are due to a change in routine. Increased stress and anxiety, reduced mobility while in transit, disruption in sleep and routine, and a change in healthy habits like nutrition and exercise can contribute to constipation while traveling.

How to prevent travel constipation:

  1. Eat regular meals and snacks.
    • Stick to your eating pattern with meals and snacks every 3-5 hours during the day
    • Aim to keep these balanced and close to your normal meals as possible
  2. Focus on fiber.
    • Bring along your favorite travel friendly fiber-containing snacks, like dried fruit, nuts and seeds, oatmeal bites, and high-fiber bars
    • Order whole grains, veggies and fruits at meals when available – don’t be afraid to substitute!
  3. Stay hydrated.
    • Bring a water bottle and drink throughout your trip
    • Flying can be especially dehydrating – pack an empty bottle and fill it up at the hydration stations throughout the airport!
  4. Keep moving.
    • Incorporate regular physical activity into your travel time. This may include more stops to get out and move, walking in the airport, or standing up on the plan some
    • After you arrive at your destination aim for a a morning and/or evening walk, virtual workout from your vacation home, utilizing a hotel or resort gym, or even trying a local fitness class
  5. Make time for the bathroom.
    • Aim to spend some time in the bathroom at your regularly scheduled bowel movement time.
    • Do not ignore the urge to have a bowel movement – even while on the go
  6. Manage your stress.
    • If your vacation is particularly stressful, consider setting aside time to get away and reduce your stress
    • A walk alone or with a low-stress travel companion can be a great tool for this, or try a meditation app
  7. Focus on adequate, restful sleep.
    • Prioritize getting back to a normal sleep schedule as soon as you can
    • Consider bringing along items that support sleep for you at home, like a favorite blanket, pillow, eye mask, ear plugs, or sound machine
  8. Avoid/limit any known constipation triggers.
    • As much as you can, limit foods that you know typically give you non-travel constipation.
  9. Have a backup plan.
    • If you still struggle with constipation during your trip, have a gentle laxative on-hand, such as Miralax, to support your bowel movements.

Red Flags: Please contact your doctor if you experience any of the following symptoms:

  • Constipation lasting longer than 2-3 weeks
  • Bloody stool
  • Rectal bleeding

Still need help getting to the bottom of your uncomfortable bloating? Click here to schedule a 15-minute call with our GI specialist dietitian Catherine Johnston, MS, RD, LD CPT today! Together you can work through your symptom journal and create a plan that works best for you.

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