Dealing with Flare Ups While You’re Traveling
Last updated: June 2018
While traveling can be exciting, for someone with IBS there’s always some trepidation about whether your IBS will flare up while you’re away from home, since you don’t want it spoiling your trip. There are however some strategies that you can use to help you deal with flare ups while you’re traveling.
Always plan your trip ahead of time
This is something I’ve learned the hard way because I love jumping in the car and driving somewhere on short notice. But spontaneity means that you often forget to take essential items needed to keep your IBS in check. A better strategy is to allow time to plan your trip, making sure you include all of the necessary medications and emergency items that you need to manage a flare up. Also, if you take some time to plan things, there’s less chance of your symptoms being triggered in the first place. For instance, packing some safe foods and snacks means that you know you’ll have something safe to eat that won’t trigger your symptoms.
Have strategies ready to ease your symptoms as quickly as possible
If you’ve planned well, you’ll have included all of the symptom management tools that you would normally use at home. This could include medications, heat pack, soothing teas, wet wipes, and other items that you use to ease your symptoms. If you accidentally forget something, find where the nearest pharmacy is and get the items you need.
Accept that the chance of a flare up is pretty high
When it comes to dealing with flare ups, most people focus on the physical side of things. But the fact is that the mental side is a significant part of the battle. So a really helpful strategy is to simply accept that being away from home will increase your likelihood of a flare up. This is because you’re exposed to different foods, activities, and the stress that goes along with travel and being out of your normal routine.
But how does this help you? Being prepared for a flare up helps to stop you from stressing about it. So long as you have your emergency items with you and you’ve done what you can to reduce the chance of a flare up, the best thing you can do is simply to get on with things. Less stress means one less potential IBS trigger to worry about.
Factor bathroom time into your travels
Many people find it harder to go to the bathroom when they’re out of their normal routine, especially if they’re prone to constipation. So allowing time to go to the bathroom without rushing can be very helpful for encouraging normal bowel movements. And if you have become constipated and need to use laxatives, plan to use them at a time that will work for when you can go to the bathroom without being rushed.
Have a spiel ready to tell your traveling companions
When all else fails, you may have to accept that you need a time out to allow your symptoms to settle. This may mean finding a quiet place to sit for a few minutes or it may mean going back to bed if you’re in a lot of pain. If things are at the point where you need to step away from your planned activities, being prepared to explain it to your traveling companions makes it easier. But you should also deal with your flare up as gracefully as possible and let them continue on with their activities while you’re recovering. As unfair as it may feel, there's no reason why they should miss out just because you're unwell.
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