While it is easier to manage symptoms when you are in a tightly controlled environment, such as when you are home and following your regular routine, there are tried and true tips and techniques that can help you travel, whether it is for work or pleasure. This article, Traveling & IBS: The Comprehensive Guide, is the main hub for our Traveling & IBS Series.
Take A Multi-Pronged Approach To Managing IBS On The Road
Just as everyone’s gut is different, and we each need different kinds of help (the IBS-D person will not have the same needs as those with IBS -C) we leave it to you to pick and choose the tips and techniques that will help you travel with as much support for your IBS symptoms as possible. But we do have one, over-arching suggestion: take a multi-pronged approach!
Build Your Toolbox
Build a toolbox of strategies for yourself. Learn what works for YOU. Here are some common tips and suggestions:
- Have the Monash University and FODMAP Friendly smartphone apps downloaded and at hand.
- Consider a scanner app like Fig, to help you navigate market shelves. Especially helpful when in markets you are unfamiliar with.
- Make sure you have whatever over-the-counter medications or prescription medicines that you need.
- Keep them close to you – not in checked baggage.
- A broad digestive enzyme such as FODZYME might be a great addition to your toolkit. Read more HERE.
- Speak with your dietitian about pausing the diet.
- Call hotels to see if you can have a refrigerator and microwave in your room.
- Consider having a prepared-meal service such as ModifyHealth mail some meals to your hotel to correspond with your arrival. Being able to have some of your meals in your room can save a lot of dietary hassle.
- Be sure to check out our Low FODMAP Fast Food Options article.
- And also, our Low FODMAP Choices at Starbucks & Dunkin’ Donuts article.
- Call restaurants ahead, and/or look at their menus online to get the lay of the land.
- Download our handy Restaurant Card.
- Consider the Nerva app. Travelling can be extra-stressful, which can trigger IBS symptoms. Guided hypnotherapy can be just the boost you need.
- Maintain your sleep schedule.
- If you do have a flare, refer to our article, How To Relieve An IBS Attack.
- Remember you are not alone! Advocate for yourself when needed. This is your medical health we are talking about, and you are your own best caretaker.
Managing IBS In Specific Situations While Traveling
Use the guides below for specific situations, such as traveling through airports, traveling with friends, van travel, camping, and more.
Eating In A Plane, Train Or Automobile
We have an article for you, Great Tips for Eating Low FODMAP On Airplanes, and many of those suggestions can be applied in other types of vehicles – except you won’t have to deal with the TSA! Here are additional tips:
- Bring wet wipes. We like the individually wrapped sanitizing wipes. They are easy to stow and each one stays fresher, longer.
- Have bottled water at hand, always.
- Self-contained food: These days there are so many well-designed plastic and reusable containers, from bento boxes to bowls, and simple disposable containers, too.
- Assess for drips and crumbles. Leaving a trail of granola crumbs in the seams of car seats will not be appreciated. Ditto sticky peanut butter fingers. We are not saying you cannot eat these things; just clean up afterwards – maybe use some of those wipes for seats as well as hands.
- Low FODMAP beef jerky is a great high protein, neat and easy snack.
- Nothing smelly. It needs to be said. No sticky cheese or fish. I personally draw the line on hardboiled eggs. I think they are a fantastic portable high-quality protein. Some folks are sensitive to sulfur smells; use your judgment.
- There are many low FODMAP energy bars on the market; check out our list of over 100!
You May Want To Read: Finding Low FODMAP Food Options at Airports
Navigating The Airport
Airports vary hugely in their offerings. In general, the smaller the airport, the fewer the choices. While we always suggest toting along what you can, here are some ideas to consider, in the airport.
- Find a restaurant map that lists the cafes and all the locations where food is sold in the airport. Assess your choices.
- Review current TSA rules about what you can take through security and what you cannot. Typically, liquids, including water, are not allowed, unless in amounts of 3.4-ounces (100 ml) or less. Here is a short list of what is usually okay, but your local TSA has the final say:
- Anything gel-like, such as hummus, peanut butter, or jelly must be in amounts of 3.4-ounces (100 ml) or less.
- Fresh fruits and vegetables vary in allowability, depending on where you are traveling to and from.
Some of our favorite protein and energy bars and shakes – perfect for travel!
BelliWelli Lemon White Chocolate Bar$26.96
Isopure Zero Carb Protein Powder, 100% Whey Protein Isolate; UnflavoredProduct on sale
OWYN Cold Brew Coffee Protein Drink$16.41
Stellar Labs Raw Vegan Plant Protein Vanilla Shake$59.95
GoMacro Protein Replenishment Peanut Butter Macrobar$4.18
Enjoy Life Protein Bites, Dipped Banana
Enlist Your Travel Buddy
If you are traveling alone, then you have yourself to rely upon. But if you have a spouse, family member or friend, with whom you are close, consider alerting them to your needs. Have a frank conversation before you leave for your trip together; explain in as much detail as you are willing. We find this is actually better than doling out tidbits as you go along.
You might consider mentioning the following sorts of needs:
- Need to source bathrooms.
- Frequency of bathroom breaks.
- Length of time you might need in the bathroom.
- Your best approach to restaurant menus – that you will be asking questions!
- The need for routine.
- Time out for meditation, exercise, hypnotherapy or other stress-reducing activity.
And of course, read our article, Traveling with IBS: Being A Good Travel Buddy, which is written from the point of view of a young adult who intrepidly travels the world with her IBS, but can apply to all of us.
You May Want To Read: Traveling with IBS – Being A Good Travel Buddy
We are blessed to have some bold travelers on our team, particularly European based Angi Ruoss (The Intolerant Wanderer) and dietitian Vanessa Vargas, both of whom have written several articles, helping all of us span the globe. Both live with IBS and their diagnoses have not held them back.
You May Want To Read: Low FODMAP Room Service
Listen To The Pros
Our dietitians have seen it all – and are here to help you. Diana Reid is a U.S. expat living in Luxembourg and has written a fantastic article for us, The Global Dietitian’s Travel Tips While Following the Low FODMAP Diet.
We love her approach: “Don’t Stay Home. Be Bold, But Be Prepared!”, and her suggestion to pack a Tummy Rescue Kit. The full list is in the article, but have you considered:
FODMAP Everyday® Traveling With IBS Series
Here is an at-a-glance list of our travel-related articles:
- Van Travel with IBS: Low FODMAP On The Road
- Traveling with IBS: Sicily is A Low FODMAP Dream Destination
- Traveling with IBS: Low FODMAP Travel and Food In Hawaii
- Traveling with IBS: Being A Good Travel Buddy
- The Global Dietitian’s Travel Tips While Following the Low FODMAP Diet
- Low FODMAP Camping – Meals, Snacks & More to Keep You A Happy Camper!
- Low FODMAP Room Service: It Is Possible!
- Finding Low FODMAP Food Options at Airports
- Great Tips for Eating Low FODMAP On Airplanes
- How to Navigate a Restaurant Menu on the Low FODMAP Diet
- Top 10 Strategies for Eating Out On the Low FODMAP Diet
- Low FODMAP in London – Awareness for Food Intolerances is Rising
- Pausing The Low FODMAP Diet
- How To Relieve An IBS Attack
You can travel, even if you have IBS. Being prepared is key and our articles are here to help, whether you are taking a short car trip, a camping trip, flying far afield or taking a business trip with colleagues. Let our Success Team help you get out in the world and show you how you can manage your IBS symptoms.