In the last post, we talked about vacation sleep sabotage: how getting away can mean getting less sleep. In this post, we’ll talk about a related, but less openly discussed hazard of travel: constipation.
It happens, and it’s not fun. Even those who are regular can experience a slowing of the bowels away from home.
Road trips and air travel mean sitting for an extended period. If you’re not used to it, your bowels may protest.
Low-Fibre Restaurant Food
Eating out almost inevitably means eating less fibre. This is one of our real pet peeves, since we travel frequently. Outside of hip, urban centres, with raw, vegan restaurants it can be hard to find meals with enough roughage.
Long drives and air travel create major disincentives for drinking water. Who wants to use gas station or airline bathrooms? And yet, without water, nothing moves.
Strangely enough, some people just can’t poop in public or unfamiliar washrooms. This is a mixed curse. If you’re among those who freeze up at hotels, restaurants, and your in-laws’, this reticence probably saves you some embarrassment. Yet, it’s not comfortable.
Suppressing the Urge
Related to shy bowels, resisting the urge can convince your body to stop trying. Think of your bowels as slightly vengeful and a bit sulky. Ignore the signals, and they will have revenge.
Ironically enough, our holidays can be stressful! There are logistics, lines, and of course, interpersonal friction (i.e. frenzied kids, spousal spats). Stress manifests in tension, and tension in the digestive tract can cause constipation.
The symptoms of constipation are enough to throw a wrench in your holiday fun.
In the short-term, constipation causes bloating, stomach discomfort, gas and even nausea. Straining can also lead to hemorrhoids. Yikes!
You don’t want to spend your holiday sitting on a little round cushion. So, what can you do to prevent traveler’s constipation?
Normalize Your Diet
If possible, stay in accommodations with cooking facilities. You can easily rent an apartment anywhere in the world, for the price of a hotel room, via Airbnb.com.
Before your trip, look into whether local grocery stores deliver. In Ontario, Fortino’s has a great online ordering system via GroceryGateway.com. Place an order of healthy, whole foods to arrive when you do. You’ll be less tempted to get fast food if you’ve already made the investment.
When in-transit, munch on raw seeds, fresh fruit and veg.
Pack a Water Bottle
Invest in a water bottle with a built-in filter. That way, you can fill up at any tap, no matter how refined your palate.
If you need to, track your water intake.
There are countless apps for meditation on-the-go, but if that’s not your thing, create a playlist of songs that really help you unwind. Make the screensaver on your phone a quote or reminder to breathe, and let go when frustration mounts.
Adopt a Flexible Workout Routine
Guided classes are great, but people who rely on group exercise may be at a loss when they can’t sign-up with their favourite instructor. Whether it’s running, walking, yoga, or calisthenics, get comfortable with a form of exercise you can do anywhere. Better yet, fall in love with one activity that works well outdoors, and one for terrible weather (which hopefully never happens on your vacation).
Pack Natural Calm
Natural Calm is a natural, gentle laxative. Your normal dose of one teaspoon should suffice to keep things moving, but on the road, you may need to up your intake – within reason. You’ll know you’ve reached your personal sweet spot when things are comfortably loose.
Natural Calm comes in convenient travel packs. Each pack is a single serving.
To make a cup of Natural Calm on the road, request a cup of hot water and a spoon from the drive-through window of Tim Horton’s, or from your airline steward. It’s that easy.
Finally, don’t suppress the urge if you can help it. Remember, the perils of gas station restrooms are likely less severe than those of constipation.
Keep a good relationship up with your bowels and you’ll enjoy a smoother stomach and a happier holiday.