6 Tips for Staying Regular on Vacation
Digestive issues don’t have to get in the way of a vacation. If you suffer from gastrointestinal issues like hemorrhoids, diarrhea, or constipation, it can add a whole new layer of planning to your vacations: travel constipation is a common issue that comes with shaking up your eating, sleeping, and exercise routines. That bloated, backed-up feeling that comes with it can leave you feeling uncomfortable when you should be enjoying every minute. Instead of suffering, use these tips to stay regular while traveling to ensure that you don’t miss out on any fun during your trip.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Pack a cushion for the plane.
Nothing irritates a hemorrhoid like sitting on a plane for an entire day. Hemorrhoids are swollen blood vessels in and around the rectum or anus that are caused by too much pressure in the area; external hemorrhoids occur when the veins just under the skin on the outside of the anus get swollen or distended like varicose veins. A donut cushion has a coccyx cut-out to relieve the pain and tension you may feel from sitting too long, so you can relax comfortably on your flight. It’s not entirely unlike a round neck pillow, so you’ll look right at home (and can use your neck pillow in a pinch).
Be mindful of how you eat.
Why is it hard to poop on vacation? Because it can be tough to eat healthy on vacation. But wherever you can, choose plates full of fresh fruits, veggies, and whole grains. Those fiber-rich foods help stools pass through your intestines faster. If you’re heading somewhere where it will be hard to eat healthy, consider packing safe foods that you know won’t cause irritation, so you can still eat without consequences. Drink plenty of water to keep blockages from backing you up; consider packing a reusable water bottle to easily fill up anywhere. And while the fun of traveling is sampling new dishes, be mindful when trying new foods so you can avoid triggers like dairy or caffeine for irritable bowel syndrome, or spicy foods for heartburn.
Don’t abandon your exercise routine.
Whether it’s booking walking tours or just making sure you leave time in your schedule to hit your hotel gym, regular exercise can help keep your GI tract moving. Physical activity helps keep your digestive system moving and also increases the muscle activity of your intestines. Consider embarking on physical activities like a hike or a kayak tour, walking between tour sites instead of taking taxicabs, swimming in your hotel pool, or signing up to try a local sport. Just make sure you’re consistently getting in some type of exercise—a quick run, an easy swim, or morning yoga each day would do the trick.
But also, don’t forget to relax.
It’s vacation! Your gut and brain are connected, and psychological stress and your gastrointestinal system can affect each other, messing up the movement and contractions of the GI tract. While there are a million things that could go wrong during a vacation, such as delayed flights or missing hotel reservations, the more that panic and worry set in, the more it may affect your bathroom habits—making the situation worse. Take a few deep breaths (or try a guided meditation app!) so you can find a solution to any problems from a calmer place. The more zen your brain, the better your belly can feel.
Know where the toilets are.
When you gotta go, you gotta go—and you don’t have time to roam aimlessly through a new city’s streets to find a bathroom. If you have to go, don’t hold it in: this causes the stool to build up in your system, and that extra pressure and strain when you finally do go the bathroom can lead to uncomfortable hemorrhoids. If you end up with discomfort from hemorrhoids, stash Rapid Relief Totables Wipes in your bag, which will help relieve irritation. Use smartphone apps and local directories that can list public bathrooms in thousands of cities around the world. And don’t forget to patronize local coffee shops in case you need to use their bathrooms.
Stick to a regular sleep schedule.
Your sleep habits are also linked to what goes on in the bathroom. Your circadian rhythm can influence many aspects of your health, including your digestive system. Make sure you don’t let jet lag take you down by keeping your sleep schedule as close as possible to that of the time zone you’re currently in and keeping your room cool at night. During the day, avoid napping and try to spend time out in natural light (just don’t forget to pack sunscreen!).