Most people go on vacation to leave stress behind. But for people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), going on a trip can be more stressful than staying home. Symptoms like cramping, diarrhea, painful constipation and urgent bathroom runs can make it challenging to relax.
How To Manage IBS On Vacation2019-08-08 If you have IBS, going on a trip can be stressful. Check out these tips for managing irritable bowel syndrome while traveling
Author: Franciscan Health
IBS doesn’t have to ruin vacations, though. Check out these tips to help you manage irritable bowel syndrome while traveling:
Feeling stressed can cause IBS symptoms to flare up. So try to eliminate the parts of travel that agitate you:
- Use a travel agent to coordinate details like flights, transportation, hotel and tours.
- Book a cruise to streamline the process – it's lodging, food and activity all in one.
- Volunteer to drive so you can determine when bathroom breaks happen.
- Offer to find restaurants. That way you can choose places with good food options for you.
Hate feeling rushed on vacation? Build downtime into your itinerary. If Monday is packed with activities, Tuesday can be hanging around the resort. Or plan one activity a day and leave the rest open. Vacation is about relaxing, so take some time to take it slow!
Prioritize Your Health
Stick as close to your routine as possible when traveling. Getting good sleep and regularly exercising will help minimize the physical stress of traveling. Your body will thank you for skipping late-night parties in favor of a good night's sleep and a workout.
And if you start experiencing IBS symptoms, don't be afraid to opt out of activities. If you push through, your symptoms could worsen and ruin the rest of your vacation. Instead, take a breather to help your body bounce back.
Pack IBS Medication
Whatever you do, don't forget to pack IBS medication, especially prescriptions. Consider dividing medications into two containers: one to take with you while you're out and one that stays where you're overnighting. If you’re staying within the U.S., you can also pick up over-the-counter medications to help with diarrhea and constipation.
Stay On Your IBS Diet
For most people, vacation is a tempting excuse to indulge. But straying too far from "safe" meals invites trouble. High-fat foods, caffeine and alcohol may worsen IBS symptoms. Make careful choices at restaurants and pack your own snacks to avoid triggering IBS symptoms. (Learn more about the best IBS diet to prevent flare-ups.)
Know Bathroom Locations
One of the most difficult things to deal with when you have IBS is the urgent need to use the bathroom. That’s why it’s important to know where they’re located. Here are some steps you can take to prepare:
- On a plane: Book an aisle seat near the bathrooms.
- In the airport: Allow plenty of time to use the restroom in between flights.
- On the road: Map out rest stop locations along your route.
- At your lodging: Book accommodations with a private bathroom.
- In a foreign country: Know how to ask where the bathroom is in the country's language.
Talk to your gastroenterologist, a doctor that specializes in the digestive system, about your upcoming trip to find out if there are any other precautions you should take. With a little planning, the most memorable part of your vacation will be the amazing sunsets, not the IBS.