A man holding his stomach with his hands from pain

Vacation constipation – A potential vacation downer

There is perhaps nothing worse than to have stomach issues when you’re travelling. It can put a real damper on your experience, cause you to miss out on all the fun and cause you to constantly be on guard. It can be downright miserable.

We’ve all heard of traveller’s diarrhea, but another common travel ailment is vacation constipation. It is actually a real condition that affects a large number of people when they travel.

“As many as 40 percent of people experience constipation while they’re away from home, due partially to their gut bacteria’s reaction to the change of setting,” says Mollie Bloudoff-Indelicato in The Atlantic. “Any time you leave your general habitat, it’s throwing your gut microflora off balance,” says Brooke Alpert, a registered dietician.

What causes vacation constipation?

The condition is largely caused by a change in a person’s regular habits, and we all know that travel can throw us off from our normal daily routine. It can be caused by:

  • The process of travelling
  • Sitting for long periods of time
  • Time changes and jet lag
  • Eating at different hours
  • Eating different foods
  • Stress associated with travel

How to manage vacation constipation

“Because everyone’s microbiome is different, there’s no one-size-fits-all trick for preventing traveler’s constipation, Alpert says, but there are a few methods that typically prove helpful,” Bloudoff-Indelicato says in the same article. These include:

  • Eating fermented foods, such as yogurt and sauerkraut, to help keep you regular
  • Drinking plenty of water to help with digestion
  • Avoiding medications that can cause constipation (always research potential side effects before taking over-the-counter medication)
  • Avoiding delay in going to the bathroom; if you have to use the washroom, do so in a timely manner
  • Finding ways to relax and reduce stress
  • Eating foods that are high in fibre, such as berries
  • Avoiding sitting for long stretches of time; if possible, get up and move around, even if you are on a flight or long bus ride
  • Establishing a vacation routine when you arrive at your destination; get your body into a routine as soon as possible
  • Using a natural laxative (talk to your doctor first)

If you find that vacation constipation is a recurring issue for you when you travel, talk with your doctor to find a solution that will make travel more comfortable.