How I Manage IBS While Traveling ✈️💩

Traveling With IBS

Being on the road when you have irritable bowel syndrome can be a nightmare. But with a little planning and preparation, you can make your trip a lot more enjoyable.

By Diana Rodriguez

Medically Reviewed by Christine Wilmsen Craig, MD

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If you suffer from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), the thought of traveling more than a few feet away from a bathroom, much less traveling long distances for work or pleasure, may understandably fill you with anxiety.

Since people with IBS often need to use a bathroom frequently, boarding an airplane or being trapped in a car with others for hours can pose particular challenges. But you can take measures to head off problems.

IBS and Travel: Plan-Ahead Strategies

If you have IBS, you’re probably used to scoping out each new place you go to for the nearest bathroom. You can do the same thing on vacation. To help you make it to your travel destination without IBS ruining your trip, try the following tips:

  • Making dietary changes days or weeks before you leave.If food seems to be your biggest trigger for IBS symptoms, avoid foods that give you constipation, diarrhea, or gas.
  • Ask your doctor about medications.See if there are any medications available that can help your IBS symptoms, and pack plenty to take on your trip.
  • Try relaxation techniques.If stress and anxiety spur your IBS symptoms, practice relaxation techniques that you can use during your travel. Try deep breathing, visualizing peaceful images, and meditating.
  • Choose methods of travel with access to bathrooms.Avoid traveling on buses, which may not have a toilet you can use. If possible, take trains or airplanes to your travel destination.
  • Drive your car.Travel by car if you feel more comfortable. Give yourself plenty of time to get there so you don't have to stress about losing time when you take bathroom breaks. Stop whenever you need to go to the bathroom — the more flexibility you give yourself, the less you may find that you need to stop.
  • Choose a seat near the restroom on an airplane.When traveling by air, those moments when you can't get out of your seat are those when your IBS is likely to strike. Try to book a seat close to the restroom, so that you can quickly duck in when symptoms strike. You might also feel less self-conscious about going to the bathroom so many times if it's a little less obvious.

IBS and Travel: A Personal Perspective

You can get your IBS under control and keep doing the things that you want to do — as long as you get help. If you don't, IBS can ground you for life.

Tim Phelan of Wayne, Pa., is the author of the bookRomance, Riches, and Restrooms,a memoir of his experience with IBS. Phelan first started experiencing symptoms of IBS when he was 21 years old. He had just graduated from college with a degree in French and had big dreams of international travel. Because of his IBS, it was 16 years before he made it out of the country.

"My fear of traveling and fear of being on a plane really restricted my dreams and where I wanted to go with my life," says Phelan. "Plane travel in particular was very difficult. In my situation, whenever I couldn't have access to a bathroom, that in itself would trigger my symptoms."

It wasn't a fear of flying that made him anxious — it was a fear of not being able to get to the bathroom. "It's that time when you have to put your seat belt on and you back away from the gate — when the lavatory is completely off-limits. You just can't get up and go, and being strapped there in my seat with a full audience increased the anxiety," says Phelan.

Driving was also an issue because of Phelan's IBS symptoms. Phelan would drive separately on long car trips instead of with friends, family, or co-workers. Even day-to-day travel was an issue for Phelan. He couldn't take the bus to work because there was no restroom. And in traffic-packed San Francisco where he lived, that meant a long commute and costly parking. When it came to traveling where he feared he couldn't reach a bathroom in time, Phelan would "avoid those situations at all costs."

If you let it, IBS can take over your life — and keep you from living it anywhere that isn't a few steps from a bathroom.


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Date: 30.11.2018, 02:00 / Views: 44233