How to avoid travel constipation

  3 min


  • Travel
  • Tips

Constipation is your body's natural response to change, and it's common when you’re travelling. Changing routines, crossing different time zones, experiencing new foods and changes to your sleep patterns can all cause travel constipation. Thankfully, it's easy to spot and there are a few things you can do to feel better and enjoy your time away.

How can travelling affect your body?

So what's your body reacting to when you travel? If you know the triggers, you can get things moving again. Let’s take a look at some common causes of travel constipation.

Different food

This is the most common cause of travel constipation. When you're away, you eat different foods, often outside your normal mealtimes, and this can change the activity in your intestines.

Jet lag

Jet lag happens when we travel across time zones. It can make you feel tired and lethargic for days. The effects of jet lag can be unsettling to your whole system. And as well as feeling exhausted and disoriented, jet lag can manifest itself in symptoms like insomnia, headaches and constipation1,2.

Research has shown that a five to eight hour time difference will cause symptoms that could take anywhere from two days to two weeks to overcome. And long-distance travellers may need eight to 10 days for their bowel movements, temperature regulation, and hormonal cycles to settle1.

Changes to your usual toilet time

While travelling, there may be times when you aren't able to find a toilet. Or perhaps you feel a little inhibited with other people around. This could lead you to holding in your poo. And that's never good because, you guessed it, holding it in can make you constipated.

How does travelling trigger constipation?

Your body loves routine. But our routines often go out the window when we travel... and our tummies don't like it. Let's look at some of the main triggers of travel constipation:

Food and travel constipation

When you’re on holiday or travelling somewhere new, chances are you’ll eat new foods, at new places. Changes to your diet and mealtimes can be triggering for your bowels, especially if you’re not eating as much fibre as usual. Though holiday treats are nice, lots of high-fat meats, prepared food, dairy products and eggs, or rich desserts and sugary sweets can all cause constipation3.

Stress and travel constipation

Though holidays can be wonderful, the preparation that goes into them can be stressful. Especially if you aren't used to travelling, or your trip is associated with emotional stress, it's easy to feel overwhelmed and stressed out4,5. And this stress can lead to constipation. In fact, stress is one of the most common causes.

Different routines and travel constipation

If you’re travelling to a different time zone, it can take several days for your gut and brain to adjust to your new daily rhythm. And while they're adjusting, you may experience gastrointestinal problems such as travel constipation2.

In addition, changes to your bedtime and mealtimes can affect your bowel movements and trigger constipation1. And if you're having trouble sleeping while you're away, we're sorry to say that this can also affect your bowel functions and cause constipation6.

A few tricks to avoid travel constipation

While you're preparing for your holiday or business trip, there are several precautions you can take to avoid travel constipation. Planning ahead, and taking the right action to prevent constipation, is always better than dealing with it while you're away.

1. Maintain a good diet

The right nutrition is so important for your gut. Try to eat fibre-rich foods while you're away to stay regular. These include whole wheat bread, brown rice, nuts and pumpkin seeds.

2. Limit alcohol and caffeine

Curb the caffeine and cocktails when you’re travelling. They can dehydrate your body, which can make it harder to go to the loo.

3. Sleep like a baby

If you’re going to a different time zone, your body might need time to adapt. To help your body function fully, make sleep a priority.

4. Keep active

Staying active keeps things moving inside. If you've travelled long-distance, your digestive system may need to adapt to a new day-night rhythm. So try to keep active during the day. This will stop your digestive activity from slowing down2. Even a walk here and there will help.

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