Before you go
Getting insurance, purchasing the local currency and making an itinerary are all very important when it comes to preparing for a holiday abroad however, as an IBS sufferer there are a few other things you need to do before setting off on a trip.
- Choose your destination carefully
Holidays are meant to give you an opportunity to unwind but with the planning and travel involved, they are often accompanied by a degree of stress too. Stress is a known symptom of IBS which can therefore be exacerbated by a trip away. So, when choosing your destination make sure it’s somewhere that will allow you to feel calm and relaxed. You may wish to visit a big city like Paris or London but, if the crowds or the fast pace of these places will make you feel uptight then it’s probably not the best idea to visit. So, why not opt for a relaxing beach trip or a calming camping trip under the stars instead?
Whilst on holiday it’s lovely to eat and drink in the local restaurants but, if you feel your IBS would benefit from a night off from restaurant food, it’s great to have an alternative. Self-catering apartments will give you another dinner option if your IBS flares up as it allows you to pick the food and drinks that are least likely to exacerbate your symptoms and then you can enjoy them back at your accommodation.
IBS can be made worse by changes to diet which, as we try out all the local food, is a key feature of many holidays. So, before setting off on your next adventure it’s a good idea to do a little research into the local delicacies. As an IBS sufferer this will allow you to find out what you can and cannot eat before you leave for the destination. Preparation is key!
Amongst the shorts, t-shirts and, if it’s a UK holiday, the waterproofs, remember to pack your medication too! Also, ensure that you have enough to last the duration of the trip as you don’t want to find yourself with none left half way through. That’s likely to increase stress further as you’ll have to search the local pharmacies for something suitable.
The treatments you take will depend on your symptoms but, fortunately, we have a range of herbal remedies on hand. For issues such as diarrhea and stomach cramps, you can turn to Silicol Gel as it has a soothing effect on the walls of the intestine which will help to ease these problems.
As for stress and anxiety, you could turn to AvenaCalm which has been traditionally used to help people deal with stress and anxiety.
To minimize your stress levels whilst travelling, make sure you allow plenty of time to get to the airport. With extra time to spare it won’t matter if traffic is slow or if there are any hold ups.
When booking your plane tickets try to get an aisle seat or, better still, get one that’s close to the toilet. This means you’ll be able to get to the bathroom quickly and whenever you like, plus you won’t feel like you’re disrupting anybody else if you have to get up regularly.
Ensure your carry-on luggage is packed full of medication, a change of clothes, baby wipes and also IBS-friendly snacks such as seeds, oatcakes, rice cakes and nuts. This means that if your main luggage is lost or if there’s a delay in it reaching you, you'll have the essentials to get by.
The air craft’s toilets may be busier immediately after takeoff and just before landing so if you can, work your pit stops around this.
Before setting off on your car journey plan the places you are going to stop for a rest and a toilet break. This should reduce stress a little as you won’t be worrying about where the next toilet is going to be. However, remember to keep some change on hand in case there is a charge.
Service stations do not offer the greatest variety of food so as your IBS symptoms can often be made worse by what you eat, it can be helpful to plan and pack food for your journey. Also, it’s good to have snacks on hand that you know you can tolerate. The likes of fresh fruit and vegetables for example, can aid digestion.
Enjoying your trip
In warm climates staying hydrated is especially important but did you know water could actually help your IBS symptoms as well? As I discussed in my blog ‘Drinks to help IBS’, water can soothe stomach upsets plus it helps with energy levels which, as fatigue is often problematic for IBS sufferers, can prove beneficial.
- Stick to usual meal times
Eating out with your regular schedule or, worse still, missing meals altogether can bring on IBS symptoms such as cramps and bloating. Therefore, if you can try to keep to your usual meals times and ensure you snack regularly in between.
Jam-packed holidays will likely increase stress which, in turn, can worsen IBS symptoms so if you can try to make your itinerary flexible. Why not mix up sight-seeing with more relaxed days in between?
If needed you could also practice some stress management techniques.
Remember though - don’t obsess over your condition, just enjoy your holiday!