As we close out IBS Awareness month, we’re looking forward: to new food, to new friends, and to new adventures! If you’re longing to see new places and expand your horizons with travel this spring and summer, don’t let IBS stop you! Here are Fody’s top tips for travelling with IBS.
Do Your Research!
Do your research ahead of time to find out what your food options will be where you’re travelling. This will help you not only get a sense of which foods you want to try, but also which foods you should stay away from which could irritate your stomach or trigger IBS symptoms. Find out what some of the foods you can fall back on when you go out, and keep a list on your phone to pull out when needed.
Research is also a good way to get the lay of the land. Even the most spontaneous person travelling with IBS will want a good handle on where to find accessible bathrooms and where to rest in public if they’re not feeling well. You’ll also want to plan out your day trips, if any; are you taking long trips on a bus without access to a bathroom? Are you travelling solo, with no one to take the wheel if you’re not feeling great? A little extra planning can go a long way towards helping you smoothly navigate challenges that could arise.
Learn A Few New Words and Customs
Depending on where and how far from home you’re travelling, it can be a good idea to learn about local customs. In some places, it can be considered rude to refuse food, and in some situations it may not be appropriate to jump up and leave if you need to run for the bathroom. Travelling brings a range of encounters and experiences, from the exhilarating to the stressful, and having some idea of what you’re in for can help you better prepare for what you’re going to face, and how to best communicate with the people around you. Even knowing how to ask for the bathroom in the local language can be a game-changer!
Reduce Stress Wherever Possible
Speaking of stressful…If you do start to feel stressed while you’re on vacation, it’s good to nip it in the bud–after all, stress triggering your symptoms while travelling with IBS is one of the last things you want. Knowing the best stress busting techniques that work for you is an important part of your trip; whether it’s meditation or relaxation, getting a little extra sleep or knowing your itinerary inside and out, finding ways to feel in control and relaxed can do wonders for your health.
Pack What You’ll Need–Just in Case
Pack smart! Make sure to pack clothes that make you feel comfortable and that are easy to move in both while you’re on-the-go, and in the case of bloating. Make sure that you pack any extra items you may need for emergencies, as well as a travel pack of wet wipes, and some of your favourite gut-friendly snacks for situations where you’re not sure what to eat. Snack bars can be a great addition to any backpack, and can even be packed in a suitcase and pulled out for day trips whenever you need them.
Travelling With IBS Means Sticking to a Routine
Keep to your routine as much as possible! Between jet lag and the excitement of travel it can be very easy to be constantly on the go and not get enough rest or sleep. Maintaining a daily routine similar to your typical habits can help with minimizing any aggravation to your symptons. Try to get in your normal hours of sleep per night and eat your meals at the same time or very similar as usual. It’s a good idea to plan what you’ll do in a day ahead of time and stick to it, in order to maximize your fun while staying healthy.
Have Fun and Be Yourself!
Travelling with IBS can be a challenge, but it’s definitely possible! With a few strategies and some planning, your trip can be an experience you (and your stomach!) will remember fondly for years to come. As IBS Awareness Month comes to a close, remember that it’s totally possible to live a full, happy and healthy life with IBS.