Summer is the perfect time for traveling, exploring new destinations, and creating memories. But if you have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), even the mere thought of traveling can bring you anxiety and worry.
The change in routine, unfamiliar foods, and different environments can trigger IBS symptoms and interfere with your travel experience. This chronic digestive disorder can lead to painful and unpleasant symptoms that can ruin any vacation, including:
- Irregular bowel movements
- Mucus in your stools
- Constipation or diarrhea, or alternating between the two
- Food intolerances
- Cramping, bloating, and gas
- Anxiety and depression
- Abdominal pain
- Difficulty sleeping or fatigue
Triple board-certified gastroenterologist John M. Rivas, MD, and the team at the Rivas Digestive Center in Hollywood, Florida, offers personalized IBS diagnosis and treatment so you can enjoy your summer vacation and minimize symptoms all year long.
Having IBS doesn't mean you have to give up on your summer travel plans. By putting our top tips into practice, you can take control of your condition and enjoy your summer adventures to the fullest.
Plan ahead to avoid issues
One of the most effective ways to manage IBS while traveling is to plan ahead. Research your destination, including the local cuisine and availability of IBS-friendly food options.
Before you leave your home, seek out restaurants that offer low FODMAP (Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides, and Polyols) or gluten-free meals, as these can be easier on the digestive system.
Pack with IBS in mind
Packing with IBS in mind can make managing IBS symptoms while traveling easier. Be sure to bring essential items, like anti-diarrheal medication, laxatives or stool softeners, and wet wipes.
If you follow a specific diet, like the low FODMAP diet, bring snacks that are safe for your digestive needs, such as rice cakes. Having these items handy brings you peace of mind away from home and helps you stick to your dietary needs.
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate
Since dehydration makes digestive issues worse, hydration plays a crucial role in managing IBS symptoms. This summer, be sure to hydrate, hydrate, hydrate by drinking plenty of water throughout your journey. Carry a refillable water bottle with you, and be sure you choose water from trusted sources to lower your risk of contamination if you’re traveling to places with water issues.
Practice healthy stress management
Stress and anxiety can trigger IBS symptoms, so be sure to practice healthy stress management techniques as you travel. Look for easy-to-practice activities that help you relax and unwind when you’re away from home, like deep breathing exercises, meditation, or listening to calming music.
Listen to your body and take breaks
Long hours of travel can be physically demanding. This puts added stress on your digestive system—which can spell trouble for people with IBS. Be mindful of your body's signals and take breaks when needed. Frequent movement, stretching, and short walks during layovers or rest stops can aid digestion and ease any digestive discomfort you’re experiencing.
Be mindful of food choices
When you’re traveling, it’s easy to give in to temptation and indulge in new and exciting food experiences. But if you have IBS and don’t want to be sidelined by frustrating symptoms, it’s better to stay cautious about your food choices.
Stay away from known food triggers, and be on the lookout for spicy, greasy, or heavily processed foods, dairy, and caffeine, which can trigger symptoms in most IBS patients. Instead, choose simple, freshly prepared meals with minimal ingredients as much as possible.
Don’t hesitate to ask questions about food or food preparation when eating out. And be sure to communicate your dietary needs to restaurant staff so you can enjoy IBS-friendly foods and stay well.
Talk to your GI about probiotics
Consult with Dr. Rivas before your trip to see if adding a probiotic supplement to your daily routine makes sense for you. Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that can help regulate your gut health. Dr. Rivas can recommend specific strains or brands of probiotics that can help you manage your IBS symptoms while traveling this summer.
Get customized recommendations and tips for traveling with IBS this summer by scheduling an appointment online or over the phone at the Rivas Digestive Center in Hollywood, Florida.