A stationwagon full of people drives down a road with a cityscape in the background. Neon signs of food are on one end of the cityscape and neon signs for music are at the other end. The last sign is a road sign with an arrowing pointing home.

Traveling with IBS: What Works for Me

I have a fear of flying, and this fear means every trip my family take involves a long car ride. Since a 12-hour drive is needed to reach our favorite vacation spot, it requires some planning to deal with the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome while on the go. It is an inconvenience, but I find I am able to manage if I take the time to prepare.

Timing our travel with IBS

We like to drive at night when the roadways are not as busy. Despite our preferred travel times, when we are on a long road trip we inevitably end up stuck in rush hour traffic somewhere along the way. Rest areas are often far apart, and some areas are simply not safe and are avoided. I know when I leave home there is a good possibility I will be stuck in a vehicle with nowhere to go, quite literally. This is why planning ahead is important, and it is also why I cannot be spontaneous with travel plans.

The easiest way for me to avoid issues along the way is to begin preparations days in advance. I confess I am a bit lax at avoiding foods that trigger symptoms when I am sticking close to home, but that changes when it is time to travel. Several days before we intend to begin our journey, I buckle down and stop eating anything that causes major problems. I push away favorite foods and stick with safe choices. I begin fasting at least 12 hours before we leave. The excitement of traveling makes it easy to restrict my diet for a few days, and I have yet to struggle with this important part of planning. The struggle begins when we arrive at our destination.

IBS follows you on vacation

A vacation is a time for relaxing with no worries. It is time for exploring new places and seeing new sights. Food and fun are the greatest things about vacation, but the symptoms of IBS follow you no matter where you go. You do not get to leave those worries at home. If we arrive and intend to stick close to our hotel room for several hours, I can eat whatever I want that day. If we’re staying for a full week before we travel again, I can continue enjoying whatever foods I crave for the next day or two as long as I will be near our hotel room for a while. After the third day, I have to start preparing for the journey home.

Traveling with IBS takes a lot of planning. While I am on vacation, I have to start sticking with safe foods for the last 3 or 4 days to get ready for the long drive home or the ride will be even longer and quite stressful. The night before we leave, I make sure I avoid food completely for at least 12 hours before we begin the trek home.

Making small changes

Exercising self-control while on vacation is not easy, but it is necessary for me. Half of my vacation is spent begrudgingly pushing away the foods I love. A small portion of my vacation is spent fasting. My entire vacation is spent fearing a sudden onset of symptoms of IBS. Is it worth the effort? Of course. This routine has worked for me and allowed me to continue to take to the open road as long as I plan ahead.

What works for me will not work for everyone. A bit of trial and error can help you figure out the best way to manage symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome when you are on the go. Finding a plan that works for you will make traveling less stressful.

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