As we looked at in our previous post, controlling stress is one of the main ways to manage IBS. While going on holiday is a treat, the change in routine coupled with new foods can be the perfect recipe for an IBS flare up.
To talk more about travel, stress and IBS, lifestyle and travel blogger Leonie from Life of Lo talks about her first-hand experience travelling the world while managing IBS.
Check back on our blog this weekend for the end of the self-care week series where we’ll cover managing changing symptoms and learning to love food again.
My main experience with travelling with IBS falls into the backpacking area, from staying in hostels and having a shared bathroom to 15-hour long coach trip, boat trips and ferry rides. All of which you can imagine have their challenges.
Going to a country where English isn’t spoken can leave you in situations where you may end up eating a trigger food. I once ordered a meal in a restaurant and I thought the waiter understood my requirements but halfway through my meal I found out that was not the case.
For me, trying the local cuisine is all part of the travelling experience, and I don’t want to miss out because of IBS. But knowing your body and your limits is key.
If I know that if I will be in a comfortable environment straight after eating and also the next day (as that when it can be worse for me), I will indulge a little more, knowing that if any repercussions were to occur it wouldn’t be made worse by my environment or circumstance.
Always plan ahead, research local dishes and places to eat, try to learn phrases in the local languages like “No dairy” or “No gluten”. You can even download translation apps which are a great help.
You will also want to take a snack with you in case you can’t find anything to eat. For example, I have been on many day trips on boats, one of which all I had to eat was pineapple as I couldn’t eat any of the other food they had provided. As you can imagine I was very hungry by the end of the trip and really wished I had taken my own food or snacks.
Travelling for long periods of time with minimal rest breaks can be a major concern for me as I suffer from IBS-D. When you need to go you need to go.
I have had a few episodes where I have had a flare up when on long coach journeys and thought I was in a living hell. Counting down the seconds, praying we would stop soon. And running faster than the speed of light to get off that coach.
So every time I had to do a long journey I would get myself into an anxious state which of course did nothing to help the IBS.
The best way to help me deal with this situation was to take an Imodium before travelling. This would then put my mind at ease. If I did still have a flare up, I made sure to put my headphones on, breath deep and try and take my mind off my tummy. I would also suggest travelling in comfy loose-fitting close.
Making sure that you are stocked up with any medication you need is so important. You want to take more than enough to cover you on your trips. I can be quite hard and expensive to get medicine in a different contrary and knowing you’re fully equipped will put your mind at ease.