Hey Friends. To me, there is nothing more fun than exploring another city or country! I love the adventure of experiencing new cultures, new food, as well as all the wonder and the new perspective that comes with travel.
Given the degree of GI symptoms that come and go (from a major small intestinal resection), I find modifying FODMAPs in my diet can be helpful to keep my gut in check–especially while I’m on the road. It’s common for GI symptoms to get exacerbated with travel–your activity, diet and environmental changes that occur when traveling likely play a role.
Here are 10 tips that I have incorporated into my travel routine that I have found helpful:
- Hydrate! Don’t forget to bring a water bottle with you. The airlines may offer a beverage during the flight but the amount of fluid may not be enough to keep up with the dehydrating conditions on a plane. Aim for about 8 ounces of water for every hour in flight. Tip: For air travel, after the security line, go straight to one of the airport stores to pick up at minimum a 20 ounce bottle of H-2-O or bring your own bottle–some airports have water-filling stations.
- Pack some staples. When visiting family or a place that has a kitchen, pack up some of your favorite staples such as your favorite gluten free pasta, low FODMAP bars, gluten free pretzels, suitable cold cereals, fresh low FODMAP fruit, and packages of rolled oats with suitable nuts and seeds. Oatmeal packs just require adding hot water, which you can get at most airports, on the plane or via the in room hotel coffee machines. You will be ready to fuel up when hunger hits.
- Get a refrigerator. If staying in a hotel, ask for a mini fridge in your room, if possible! This will allow you to go to a local store to purchase fresh berries, lactose free yogurt, water bottles and other comforts of home.
- Be creative with in-room appliances. Expand the use of the hotel coffee pot! As mentioned earlier, the hotel coffee pot can supply the hot water for homemade rolled oat and nut/seed packs. I pack about 1/2 cup rolled oats with 1 tablespoon chopped walnuts and 1 tablespoon chia seeds per ziplock pack.
- Be utensil-ready! Bring a bowl, spoon, fork and knife! Having a spoon at your ready for your in-room morning oats makes eating the oatmeal a whole lot easier. I will admit though–I have forgotten to bring a spoon, made the oats and sipped them– something I don’t recommend unless necessary. 🙂
- Do your homework! Pre-travel, find out what food options are available at your gate (at an airport) or at the railroad terminal. It can be quite helpful knowing in advance what is available to you. I am always happy when Starbucks is nearby–as I can always order oatmeal for breakfast, lunch, dinner or snack, in a pinch. For long car rides with few suitable restaurants on the way, I pack a car picnic with all my favorite foods and beverages.
- Keep active! This is especially important for those taking road trips. Sitting idle in the car is not ideal for a sensitive belly. Take breaks on the road and walk around a bit. This helps stimulate the movement of your intestine–moving trapped gas, water and helps keep your regular. Once you get to your destination, plan to walk around a bit too!
- Scope out local restaurants in the area. Advance planning will make dining out less stressful. Make reservations in advance–so you are not waiting too long to get your meal!
- Print out the Grab and Go passes. These downloadable low FODMAP diet info cards can be helpful to provide to the Chef to help the restaurant plan a suitable low FODMAP meal, click here to get them. There is room on the passes to add extra information so you can personalize to your individual diet needs too.
- Got laxatives? Bring along some laxatives per your doctor’s recommendations. It’s pretty common to experience constipation while traveling. Stay on top of a sluggish gut with some “rescue” laxatives if prescribed by your GI doctor or primary care physician. Don’t let the constipation go on too long (i.e. try to poop everyday)–as it will be more difficult to rectify the problem and likely impact your vacation if you wait. Prior to travel, discuss with your doctor in advance, when you should or should not use a laxative and what type would he/she recommends for you.
And one last extra tip, for good measure, if traveling by plane, you may find it helpful to reduce FODMAPs in the two meals prior to boarding the plane! Gas in your gut expands in the pressurized cabin, and having a bit less gas in your gut may make the flying experience, well, a bit more enjoyable.
Please share your favorite tips to keep your gut in check while traveling, I’d love to hear from you–and it can be so helpful to other readers!