For some people, traveling can be stressful. Having to pack, delayed flights and crowded airports can be difficult for most anyone. But for those with IBS, traveling can become a traumatic and difficult experience. Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a disorder that deals with the digestive system. It’s widely believed that IBS is developed through stress, but researchers have found that many people who have IBS developed the disorder through food poisoning.
Symptoms and side effects of IBS can become extremely uncomfortable when they are triggered through food, stress, etc. making traveling difficult and unmanageable. Knowing what can trigger your IBS is an important step in managing symptoms and side effects when you are traveling. It is best to prepare beforehand once you know that you are going on a trip so that you can enjoy your time away.
Here are a few tips to consider when going on a trip for those who have IBS:
Mentally prepare yourself before your travels.
Anxiety and stress can trigger IBS symptoms and for some people, their stress levels rise when they begin to think about bathroom accessibility, food and symptom discomfort. So, before you begin to think about your trip take a moment to visualize yourself handling different situations that may occur, such as difficulty accessing a bathroom, flight delays, etc. Mentally prepare a plan of action for when such situations occur that way if they do happen you will not stress out and have anxiety because you will already know what to do.
Prepare a “survival kit” to take with you while traveling.
The survival kit will include a change of clothes, tissue, prescription medicine if you have any and any other tools that will aid you in case IBS symptoms arise. This kit should be taken with you on planes and buses for easy access.
Bring your own food.
Airplane and rest stop food can be a little sketchy and can contain ingredients that trigger IBS symptoms. That is why it’s important to bring your own food with you while traveling. Bring food and snacks you know will satisfy you and not trigger your symptoms.
Sit in an aisle seat.
Whether you travel by bus or plane, try and get an aisle seat that way you will have easy access to a bathroom if you need it. Sitting next to the aisle will also relieve stress and anxiety and you can get up and use the bathroom whenever you need to without feeling you’re disturbing other travelers.
Tell those you are traveling with about your IBS if necessary.
Talking about IBS can be very uncomfortable but keeping it a secret while traveling and on vacation can become stressful and can trigger symptoms. If you are traveling with people you know and are comfortable with, it will be helpful to tell them that you have IBS to relieve the stress of you keeping frequent bathroom trips and specific food choices a secret. If you are on a business trip with colleagues, you may not feel as comfortable sharing that information so share at your own discretion.
Stick to your normal eating schedule.
Often while we are on vacation we tend to eat whatever and however we want. But for people with IBS that may not be the best decision. If you are on an eating schedule at home, stick to that schedule while you are traveling. Switching your eating schedule may disturb your body and trigger IBS symptoms. As tempting as it may be, stick to your schedule. Your body will thank you later.
Traveling with IBS does not have to be daunting, stressful or anxiety inducing. The most important thing is to be prepared for the unexpected, remain calm and relaxed and remember to have fun!