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Holiday Travel Tips for Patients With IBS


Irritable bowel syndrome can quickly cause a fun holiday trip to take a turn for the worst. Stress, jet lag, and unfamiliar foods can cause a flare-up in people with IBS, which can lead to anxiety due to not knowing when a flare-up may occur. If you’re dealing with IBS, you may need to add a few extra steps in planning your travels. Looking ahead can help you enjoy your trip.

Mentally prepare

Before you even start packing, close your eyes and run through your trip itinerary in your head. What are some aspects you think may pose a problem to you?

  • Will you be spending a lot of time on an airplane?
  • Driving along long country roads?
  • Having a large meal with your spice-loving aunt?

Take note of these potentially worrisome aspects of your plans and think of the worst-case scenario. Next, walk through how you will handle those situations. Having an action plan can help minimize your overall stress levels, which has an effect on your IBS.

Keep IBS-friendly snacks on hand

Don’t get caught without food you can safely eat. Plan ahead for times when you may not be able to find IBS-friendly foods on airplanes, in convenience stores, and in restaurants. Keep some snacks on you at all times to ensure you always have something to eat. Some IBS-friendly foods that don’t need to be refrigerated include:

  • Granola
  • Veggie chips
  • Gluten-free granola bars
  • Bananas
  • Gluten-free pretzels and crackers
  • Rice chips and cakes
  • Almond or peanut butter

Bring emergency items

Keep a stash of emergency IBS items with you at all times, such as medication, a change of clothes, baby wipes, incontinence products such as Depends, and a bottle of water. If you’re flying, take these items in your carry-on bag just in case your luggage gets lost during the flight.

When you arrive at your destination, you should keep two sets of medication: one in your hotel room and one on your person.

Avoid local delicacies

This precaution is especially important if you’re flying to another country. With the added stress of traveling, probable changes in sleep schedule, and potential time away from restrooms, avoiding unfamiliar foods is one of the key steps to managing your IBS during your trip.

Most places will offer some sort of IBS-friendly food, or you can ask the chef for a special preparation. Trust us, that local cuisine may smell amazing, but it might very well end in disaster later.

Check accommodations

Not all hotel rooms come standard with mini-fridges, but most hotels will work to accommodate you if you need one. Explain the situation before booking to see if they would be able to provide one for you.

Likewise, call ahead to any restaurants where your group may plan to eat to see whether they have menu items that won’t cause a flare-up.

Talk to your doctor

Contact us for any medication refills you need before you leave on your trip. If you’ll be gone for an extended period of time, you may even be able to temporarily change your pharmacy to pick up a refill during your trip.

We’ll also be able to recommend extra tips for managing your stress and IBS during your travels. You should also be sure to have our contact information on you at all times just in case you need to reach us.

Inform your companions

Finally, let your travel companions know upfront that you have digestive issues that might make you sick during your travels. You don’t necessarily have to go into full detail, but letting them know you’ll need to make extra stops and perhaps some special accommodations can help reduce the overall stress levels when they occur.

Maybe some of your companions also have experience with digestive issues!

IBS isn’t fun, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy your holiday travels. By taking the proper precautions, you can have a blast, make memories, and avoid mishaps during your trip. If you’re planning on traveling this holiday season,  contact us  to be sure you’re well-prepared and have your medications in order. Happy travels!

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