Travelling with IBS can be full of worry and anxiety, which can actually make your digestive symptoms even worse. Here are tips to get your flare up free holiday off to a good start so you can enjoy your well earned rest.

Minimising IBS travel stress

Prepare foods to take – take a stash of your favourite IBS friendly foods in your case. Check out whether your holiday destination has a fridge, cooker and what kind of restaurants are nearby. 

Bring any medication or supplements that help you during a flare up so you’re prepared in case you feel an IBS attack coming on. 

Get prepared to communicate what you need – If you’re travelling somewhere the language is different then learn a few words to help explain what you need. Can’t eat onions? Make sure you know the word for onion in the local language, and use Google translate to get a complete phrase you can show them on your smartphone, or write it down. Key things you might want to say include phrases like:

  • where are the toilets?
  • I can’t eat xyz
  • Does this food have xyz in it?
aeroplane in a blue sky from below

Preparing to travel with IBS and SIBO

For most people the run up to a holiday can feel very draining. The mix of finishing up that project at work and remembering everything you need to pack can leave us all feeling exhausted!

And then if you add in your extra worry about your digestion, it can be enough to put you off going away! In the lead up to travelling:

  • Reduce stress – not always easy, but can you build in 15 mins a day to practice meditation and deep breathing for a week before you go? Soothing the gut brain axis can really help you crate a calmer digestion.
  • Reduce irritants to your gut such as alcohol, caffeine and spicy foods for a few days before. You could even consider going low FODMAP to remove fermentable carbs from your diet to reduce gas and bloating pre-travel. (see my 7 day meal plan for some ideas of how to eat low FODMAP).
  • Take a ‘travellers probiotic‘ – there is beneficial yeast called Saccharomyces Boullardii often called the travellers friend because it can help as a preventative measure against diarrhoea from holiday stomach bugs. Always check with your doctor or nutritional therapist first if this is a good idea for you and your individual situation.
  • Get enough sleep so you don’t feel overly tired for your journey. When we’re tired we tend to fel more anxious.


Flying with IBS – what to eat

When your aeroplane rises in the air the pressure changes. If you’ve ever taken out a bottle or packet on a plane mid flight you probably noticed the air inside had expanded. This happens to your stomach gas too, so we want to try to avoid excessive gas during your flight. (To read more about bloating with SIBO check out the difference between lactose intolerance and bacterial fermentation causing bloating)

  • Bring snacks with you that you know are safe foods and will keep you going if you don’t see anything you can eat.
  • Foods like some well tolerated fruit, and protein such as egg or meats can be useful when you’re travelling.
  • Sip water frequently to stay hydrated.
  • Drink peppermint or ginger tea to relieve gas – bring a flask or ask for hot water to add to your tea bags. See other teas that can help IBS in my previous blog post.

Your 7 day low FODMAP meal plan

A tasty 7 day meal plan with over 25 healthy meals for easing IBS flares

aeroplane in a blue sky from below

 Travelling with IBS – tips for bloating

People with IBS are more sensitive to the feeling of gas and you may feel very bloated on a long flight.

  • Wear comfortable clothes with a loose stretchable waistband, and avoid tight bras.
  • Practice deep breathing when you’re on the move. Long slow out breaths can help engage your brain to let your body know you’re safe. Exhaling helps our body get out of ‘flight or flight’ mode, and can reduce feelings of anxiety.
  • Move around as much as you can – if it’s a long flight get up and walk about. 
  • You can ask for an aisle seat to make this easier, and to reduce the awkwardness of asking your neighbour to move each time you want to get up.

What to eat when you’re on holiday with IBS

It can be tempting to try all the local new foods, but unless you’re sure what is in the dishes, you could be left with bloating, diarrhoea or cramps later that night.

Try to stick to plain foods like fish and meat with rice or potatoes. If you do sample local foods start cautiously and enjoy the new tastes!

Holiday tips for IBS

Keep a regular routine if you can, this helps your digestion if you keep your routine as normal as possible.

  • Make time for a walk everyday, this can help encourage better sleep. If you normally practice yoga or do some other exercise then aim to build that into your holiday as well.
  • Take an eye mask and ear plugs – getting the best sleep you can will help reduce feelings of anxiety and sensations of pain.
  • Avoid drinking alcohol which can irritate the gut (or at least have alternate days off to help your body recover)
  • Stay hydrated by sipping on water throughout the day.

You may find your digestion is better on holiday, away from the daily stresses of work and always being on the go. Some people feel better when they take a break from daily life.

If you’d like me to help you prepare for travelling with IBS contact me about the Gut Reset programme. It’s a 3 month 1:1 nutrition coaching for IBS that will leave you with confidence in your IBS diet. Email on info@goodnessme-nutrition.com

Hi I'm Anna Mapson, registered Nutritional Therapist.

I help people with IBS and SIBO get control of unpredictable gut symptoms to find long term relief from painful and embarrassing IBS without restrictive dieting.

I can help you to:

  • understand your digestion better, so you recognise your triggers
  • eat a well balanced diet, with tasty meals that are simple to prepare
  • develop better digestion and more energy

Find more about my 3 month 1:1 Gut Reset programme

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