How to Stay Regular While Traveling
7 ways to make sure you can go number two
A lot of exciting things happen when you travel. But if you’re like many people, some decidedly basic yet critical things don’t: namely, bowel movements.
Staying “regular” involves keeping up your regular habits, which is why it can be so hard to do when you’re away and you swap your morning meal of high-fiber cereal for a continental breakfast complete with bacon and throw your sleep and exercise routines out the window.
Before you leave on your trip, pack some psyllium-containing fiber laxatives (such as Metamucil) and over-the-counter anti-diarrheal medicines just in case. Then save yourself the discomfort and wasted bathroom time with these tips.
Fill up on fiber. It can be all too easy to forgo fruits and vegetables when faced with local delicacies, but piling on the produce will help keep things moving (assuming you're not in a developing country where eating fresh produce is a no-no and could cause the exact opposite problem). Beans and whole grain cereals are other good traffic drivers. Bring along some high-fiber snacks such as nuts, whole-grain crackers and dried fruit (prunes anyone?) and tote them along in your day pack so you’ll have a handy, healthy snack.
Drink more than you think you need to. Dehydration is a major cause of constipation, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Drink up at each meal and in between meals. Just be sure the water you’re drinking is safe. If local tap water isn’t potable, bring bottled waters in your bag or backback while touring.
Avoid constipating foods. Trip to France? Go easy on the cheese, which might stop you up. Fatty foods also aren’t great for regularity. Traveling to Mexico? One American was so in love with the guavas there that she ate them by the bowlful every day. After she was unable to move her bowels for more than a week, she learned that the large seeds in the high-fiber fruit (good for regularity if you eat one or two guavas a day) can build up in the body and cause severe constipation if you over-indulge.
Heed nature’s call. In the excitement of touring the local bazaar or beach, you might put off bathroom visits. But when nature calls, it’s important to answer. If public restrooms make you nervous, visit the toilet before you leave your hotel.
Practice stress relief. The stress of traveling can contribute to either constipation or diarrhea. Relax by doing a little yoga or deep breathing before you head out for the day or curling up with a good book at night.
Shake a leg. You may already be sitting too much on planes, trains or tour busses, so walk as much as possible. In his book “Freedom from Digestive Distress,” gastroenterologist Gary Gitnick, MD, recommends that all his patients walk, cycle or do some other gentle exercise at least 30 minutes a day to prevent (or relieve) constipation. Use the gym or pool at the hotel if you’re not logging miles sightseeing. Lots of hotels have great exercise facilities, so take advantage.
Keep a lid on drinking. Sure, you might want to indulge in a fruity drink with a tiny umbrella, but don't overdo it. Alcohol can dehydrate you. And hangovers can bring on diarrhea.
Related: 7 Signs You Need a Drink (of Water!)