How to Stay Regular When You Travel

By Lindsey Johnson

Travel can be an exciting break from our normal routines. However, sometimes an unwanted travel companion, like constipation or diarrhea, can tag along. While your schedule may look different on vacation, sticking to regular bathroom habits can help you better enjoy your adventures.

Poop may be a favorite conversation topic of toddlers, but adults may not discuss it enough. Digestive health is vitally important as our bodies break down the food we eat so we can absorb nutrients and turn them into energy that fuels our bodies. Being “regular,” or maintaining typical digestion practices, is an important part of overall health. While the frequency of bowel movements varies from person to person, MedicineNet says that average patterns can range from three times per day to three times per week. Stool should be soft and easy to pass, regardless if you’re on vacation or not.

Why are constipation and diarrhea common in travel?

Even exciting travel to exotic destinations can be accompanied with stress and a change of routine. Long car rides or flights mean extended periods of sitting accompanied with the stress of traffic or flight delays. You may travel very early in the morning or at a time that disrupts your poop schedule.

Other common constipation and diarrhea culprits include a change in diet, a lack of sufficient hydration, reduced exercise and minimal sleep. Simply put, the change in activities causes a change in output. Throw in different time zones to the travel mix and you have a good chance of being “irregular.”

What can I do to stay “regular”?

To the best of your ability, try to maintain a somewhat regular sleep schedule and keep exercise within similar limits performed at home. Another important factor is staying well-hydrated. Altitude changes, including flights, can increase the need for additional water. If you’re celebrating with some adult cocktails, make sure you replenish nonalcoholic fluids frequently. This can keep everything moving smoothly through the digestive tract.

Taking a probiotic before and during your trip can also help promote healthy bacteria in the gut, reducing the likelihood of tummy troubles.

Enjoy the local cuisine if you’re so inclined, but be certain you’re getting plenty of fiber to prevent constipation. Foods you are unaccustomed to may not sit well, causing the opposite problem: diarrhea. It may be best to balance new foods with tried-and-true favorites to minimize problems.

If all else fails…

Sometimes the discomfort of constipation or diarrhea may impact your enjoyment of the trip. If constipation becomes a problem, and diet, water and exercise aren’t moving things along, Healthline recommends considering a stool softener or laxative to get you back on track.

If you are faced with diarrhea, be sure to rehydrate with plenty of fluids. Cleveland Clinic recommends starting solids with the BRAT diet (bananas, rice, apples, toast) to help your digestive system heal. Be sure to opt for white rice and toast, and try reducing or eliminating caffeine to help further ease diarrhea.

Spend your next trip with a healthy dose of water, sleep, exercise and fiber-filled foods to ensure you can enjoy every minute of your vacation without worrying about the bathroom!

Make sure to consult your doctor if you have any questions about your digestive habits before and during your travels.

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