When you are travelling, be it for holiday or for business, as an IBS sufferer, you want to avoid flare ups affecting your trip. Travel can be stressful for anyone, but for those with IBS, there is an additional concern. An unwanted IBS flare up can be painful, embarrassing and ruin your travel plans.
During these difficult times with Covid 19 still very much part of our lives, travel has become even more stressful, with masks and temperature checks becoming the norm. It’s important to factor this in before you travel. Being mentally prepared will assist in retaining a sense of control and calmness.
The best way to ensure the effects of IBS are minimised during travel, is to plan ahead to help prevent any unnecessary stress or surprises.
Some IBS sufferers avoid certain foods that may trigger IBS symptoms. When travelling, especially if for leisure, you may be eating a different diet than usual or you may want to try unfamiliar local cuisine which can be problematic when trying to avoid certain items. By controlling your diet and stress levels, you can reduce the risk of symptoms while you travel. Here are some IBS Travel Tips that may help you.
IBS Travel Tips – Be Prepared
- Before you go, don’t forget to visit The IBS Network and purchase the international TRAVEL card containing a variety of translations of the ‘Can’t Wait’ message. If you need a toilet, show this card to restaurant owners and shop keepers for example, to help get directions to a loo in countries from Germany to Pakistan. Buy from:
- Pack the night before so that all you need to do on the day of departure is get dressed and check you have comfort items in your hand luggage for the journey. Make a checklist of all you have packed and tick these items off as they go into your suitcase, you will have no need to check again, and simply pick up your bag and go
- Leave home with plenty of time to get to your point of departure to check in and clear security without the stress of running late.
- Learn the Covid19 rules for your journey to your holiday destination by visiting the airport websites both in your home and destination countries.
- Airlines may have slightly different Covid19 rules from each other once on board, and so you may want to check out aspects such as what food will be served and how to leave your seat to visit the on board toilet. Know the procedure and be confident to tell the stewards that you suffer from IBS. They may help give you preferential access when a toilet is needed.
- If you tend to avoid certain food groups, continue to avoid them where possible when travelling. It will help if you learn some of the local language so that you can communicate any food intolerances and understand menus. Learning key phrases such as ‘no dairy’ or ‘no gluten’ could be well worth the effort. As a back-up, install a translation app on your phone. It may also be useful to learn common phrases for locating bathrooms.
- If you want to try new foods, it may be wise to ensure you have no plans afterwards that could be ruined should a flare-up occur.
- Pack whatever medication you would normally use with you, especially if you plan on being adventurous with your food while away. Make sure you pack extra, it’s better to be with, than without.
- Take some of your usual snacks or foods with you, in case they are not available, or you have trouble obtaining suitable foods where you are traveling.
- Avoid excessive consumption of alcohol, or if unavoidable, be prepared with any remedies as it can trigger symptoms.
IBS Travel Tip – Manage Your Stress
Stress is a known trigger for IBS sufferers, intensifying symptoms and flare-ups. Travel can be a stressful time, especially right now, so it is important to manage stress, not only to prevent an inconvenient flare up, but also so your travel is as enjoyable as possible.
Tips for reducing stress when you travel
- Plan ahead. A little bit of organisation can go a long way, especially with travel. Ensuring you have everything you need ready will help things go as smoothly as they can.
- Consider ordering an aisle seat for the plane if you are a nervous passenger or if you find flights stressful and may need to frequent the restroom. It is worth having a discreet chat with a member of the flight crew, to make them aware of your potential condition.
- If your travel itinerary is rather full on, make time for relaxation and flexibility in case things don’t go to plan. You don’t want to overdo it and not enjoy your time, so spread activities across your trip, or set downtime days between any intense days you may have planned.
- Keep active. Not only is exercise great for relieving stress, it aids digestion and helps relieve IBS symptoms. Try some yoga for stress relief or even going for a walk after a meal.
- Meditation and practising mindfulness is great for reducing stress. Try out some simple breathing exercises for a quick relief from stress.
- Don’t let your IBS stop you from enjoying yourself. If worrying about an embarrassing flare up makes you stressed in itself, then take any IBS medications you may require with you for peace of mind.
Being prepared is key to reducing the negative effects of IBS on your trip.