Experts say that vacation constipation is very common, even if you never experience the condition at home. So why does it happen when you travel?
“A lot of times it’s just the change in routine, coupled with the extra stress of traveling,” said gastroenterologist Vijaya Rao, MD, assistant professor of medicine at The University of Chicago School of Medicine.
The beginnings of travel constipation can occur while you are in transit. A long road trip or extended flight often means limited access to bathrooms. Once you settle into your hotel, it is not quite like home, so your bowels can become stubborn. Dietary changes also contribute to the condition, since you are likely consuming different foods than you normally would, Health reported.
Research has found an association between sleep disturbances and bowel symptoms, suggesting that your ability to poop regularly while traveling can be affected by changing time zones and attempting to rest on an uncomfortable or unfamiliar bed.
Should you need a little help moving things along while you are traveling, try this three-part plan.
Consider taking probiotics before your trip. Dr. Rao recommends taking a probiotic supplement or eating yogurt containing live cultures a few days before your vacation, and continuing throughout your time away. Some research indicates that the good bacteria in probiotics tend to soften stools and ease constipation.
Get moving while you are in transit. If you are flying, leave your seat and walk the aisles to keep the blood flowing in your legs and your gut. On a road trip? Stop often to stretch your legs for a few minutes. “Regular exercise promotes daily bowel movements,” said Dr. Rao.
Also avoid eating junky airport snacks like potato chips and chocolate bars, opting for high-fiber foods such as dried fruit and nuts. And remember to drink lots of water. Staying hydrated is crucial for motility in your gut.
On your vacation, move, eat, and drink lots of water. “Try to preserve as much of your regular routine as possible,” said Dr. Rao, who also recommeded paying close attention to your food choices throughout your trip. In addition to sampling local delicacies, try to consume fiber-rich foods like fruit, vegetables, oatmeal, and lentils into each day. Walking as much as possible is also helpful, as is continuously drinking water. Strive to get a good night’s rest after each day.
If these tactics fail and you are desperate for relief, Dr. Rao’s laxative of choice is Miralax, which she said is much safer and gentler than stimulant laxatives. Mix the powder into at least eight ounces of fluid, which will help draw water into your colon and encourage the pooping process.