Travel constipation is a real thing—and if you’ve ever experienced it, you know how uncomfortable it can be. Whether you’re traveling for business or pleasure, feeling supported can make for an unpleasant travel experience. Being tense or feeling bloated while traveling can make it difficult for you to fully enjoy your experience and leave you in a rather sour mood. Although travel constipation is common, most people don’t understand why it occurs or what to do about it.
Preventing travel constipation before it occurs can help you feel good and enjoy your trip. In this guide, we’ll look at the most common causes of travel constipation and what you can do to prevent it before it happens.
Causes of travel constipation
Constipation while away from home can be caused by several different factors. It’s often a combination of multiple factors that deviate from your normal routine that can cause you to indulge while on vacation. Even if you’re on a regular bathroom schedule at home, traveling can make you feel constipated and uncomfortable.
Lack of movement
Exercise is an important factor in maintaining regular bowel movements. Movement helps reduce the time it takes for food to pass through the colon. In turn, this limits the amount of water the body absorbs from the stool. Since travel often involves prolonged periods of sitting, such as on long airplane trips, this lack of movement can cause problems in the gut. Especially for people who exercise regularly, lack of movement while traveling can lead to serious constipation.
Less water intake
Dehydration while traveling is also common, which can make your constipation worse. Not drinking enough water will slow the movement of waste through the intestines and worsen constipation. In general, people tend to consume less water while traveling for various reasons. First and foremost, you may not have access to as much water as you normally drink at home, such as during a multi-hour plane ride. Or maybe you’re trying to drink less fluid so you don’t have to use the restroom on the plane.
Lack of exercise can also cause you to drink less water than usual. Additionally, changes in altitude or climate (depending on your travel location) can also play a role in worsening dehydration.
One of the best parts of traveling is getting to try new foods and explore exciting restaurants. As great as this sounds, it also means that you may be consuming types of cuisines or foods that you wouldn’t normally eat. You may eat more processed foods than you do at home, consume less fiber, and eat at different times or in different amounts than on a typical day at home. If you consume alcohol while traveling, it can also affect your digestive health.
Travel days can be hectic and leave you with little time to try to go to the bathroom without feeling rushed. In turn, you may be left feeling constipated simply because you haven’t had time to relax and try to go. Going to the bathroom in a public restroom isn’t quite the same as relaxing in the comfort of your own home.
How to overcome travel constipation
Once you know why get constipated while traveling, it’s easier to proactively take steps to prevent constipation. Dealing with travel constipation before it happens is the best way to keep bowel movements regular and feel good while traveling.
Drink more water
Hydration is essential for passing stools and keeping stools soft enough to pass comfortably. During your trip, pay active attention to your water intake and aim to consume more water than you normally would at home. Traveling with hydration electrolyte packs that can be mixed with water can also help fight constipation by providing essential minerals like magnesium and potassium.
Consume foods high in fiber
Eating out for every meal while traveling can mean you’re not getting enough fiber. Actively choosing high-fiber foods and snacks can help fight constipation before it occurs. For snacks, choose foods like apples, which contain high amounts of healthy fiber, instead of packaged and processed snacks that make constipation worse. Choosing vegetables that contain fiber when eating at a restaurant can also help.
It’s not always easy to find time to exercise when you’re traveling. If your schedule allows, sticking to your usual workout routine as best as possible can also help combat travel constipation. Starting the day with a simple walk or jog or a visit to the hotel gym can help stimulate the urge to go. This tip is especially important for people who regularly lead very active lives.
Take magnesium citrate
Magnesium citrate pills are easy to find online or at any local grocery store or pharmacy. This specific type of magnesium acts as an osmotic laxative, meaning it draws water into the intestines and helps relax the bowels. The water drawn into the stools makes them softer and easier to pass. Taking one of these pills every day can help you maintain a regular intake and fight constipation before it happens. However, start slowly until you find the best dose for you, as taking too much magnesium citrate can cause diarrhea.