7 Smart Tricks to Prevent Constipation While Travelling

From changes in mealtime to new foods and unfamiliar bathrooms, here are a few tricks on how to plan for a more comfortable getaway.

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Natural constipation relief for travellers
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Almost 40 per cent of people get constipated when they travel

According to Connecticut-based gastroenterologist Ed Levine, MD, one big reason has to do with changes in your routine. Different meal times, a shifted sleeping schedule, or jet lag can throw off your body’s circadian rhythm and affect your digestive process. Another factor is what Dr. Oz famously called “safe toilet syndrome”—not being able to relax enough to use an unfamiliar bathroom. Depending the severity of symptoms and the length of your trip, travel constipation can simply be annoying or extremely uncomfortable.

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Beat traveller's constipation by walking when you wake up
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Walk when you wake up

Exercise increases the motility of the GI tract, says Dr. Levine. (That’s why hospital bed rest causes constipation—you’re much less mobile than usual.) Take a morning stroll to sneak in at least a little activity while you’re away, especially if you’re at a beach or lake where there’s not a lot of sightseeing in your itinerary.

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Beat traveller's constipation by stretching during long drives
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Don’t sit for long stretches

It’s tempting to not stop during a long road trip so you can get where you’re going sooner. But long periods with no movement can put stress on your bowels. Dr. Levine recommends frequent pit stops to stretch your legs, drink water, and give yourself time to use the bathroom if you need it.

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Beat traveller's constipation by eating fibre at breakfast
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Eat berries with breakfast

Fibre helps fight constipation by bulking up stool, making it easier to move through your GI tract. If you’re facing decadent vacation meals, it’s easy to forget to include it. But this sudden drop can clog you up, especially if you’re used to eating oatmeal for breakfast and salads at lunch. Commit to eating produce at every meal, plus a snack or two of fresh fruit, to keep your fibre intake adequate.

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Beat traveller's constipation by finding a routine
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Find a routine

If you normally eat breakfast at 7:30 a.m., but don’t eat on vacation until 10:30 a.m, it can contribute to constipation. “Your stomach distends after meals, which sends a response to the colon to get rid of old stool,” says Dr. Levine. So a drastic change in your eating routine can throw off your usual bowel movement schedule. Going to bed and waking up as close to the times you do at home as you can will also help maintain your circadian rhythm, which helps regulate the hormones that play a role in digestion.

Check out Amber Mac’s 5 Tips for a Better Sleep on the Road.

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Beat traveller's constipation by drinking water
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Drink up

Being dehydrated is a risk factor for constipation, so be sure to take in more water intake than usual, especially if you’re travelling somewhere hotter or drier than the conditions at home. Water also helps fibre to be more effective in normalizing your bowel movements, according to the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse.

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Beat traveller's diarrhea by scheduling bathroom breaks
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Schedule bathroom breaks

Ignoring the urge to go—say, because you’re waiting in line or you feel weird using a strange toilet—can sometimes lead to constipation, according to WebMD. If you know when you usually need a bathroom break, try to plan ahead to be near a place where you feel more comfortable making a pit stop.

Here are 11 Surprising Home Remedies for Constipation.

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Pack natural laxatives to beat traveller's diarrhea
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Bring natural laxatives

If you know you’re prone to travel constipation, you can try to prevent this health hiccup by taking a stool softener or a laxative for a few days before you leave and while you’re away, WebMD recommends. Dr. Levine recently created a supplement, Good to Go, which contains a mix of natural laxatives meant to prevent traveler’s constipation that can be taken the morning of your trip and for the first few days.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest

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