Travelling with IBS can be stressful. Flying for 9 hours to a new timezone would be stressful for most people but when the ‘gluten free’ meal you get on the plane has wheat in it and eating at different times to usual can make your stomach double in size, there’s an added level of stress. I was lucky enough to be travelling to a country where I spoke the right language and where gluten free and dairy free is widely recognised but this doesn’t mean it was easy. These are my 6 tips for travelling with IBS.
Try and go self catered. If you get a choice, book somewhere self catered. Most supermarkets with have free from sections and it’ll definitely be easy to find food you can eat there rather that trying to find 3 meals a day out. You can make packed lunches for days when you’re not sure there’ll be anywhere near by you can eat and breakfast is always covered.
Look in advance. Research cafes and restaurants before you go. Look at menus and google search for nearby places good for gluten free, dairy free etc. Try and have a few places for each area you might visit so you’re never stuck being unsure if you can eat there. You can also google which supermarkets near you are best for free from food.
Take snacks – especially for the plane. Plane food cannot be trusted. For a start it’ll be highly processed and full of salt and sweeteners which is enough of a trigger for me. I also discovered my gluten free snack was actually a vegan muffin still made with wheat flour. Be prepared and bring your own.
Stay hydrated. I always take a reusable water bottle and fill it as soon as I’m through airport security. Drinking enough is a big one for me for keeping my symptoms under control.
Try and keep your eating and sleep routine. Keeping consistent timings is also important. Don’t suddenly start eating ice-cream at 10pm if you normally stop eating at 7pm. Sleep is important to reset your digestive system so make sure you’re still getting those 8 hours and still getting to bed at a decent time. If you’re moving to a new time zone then try and eat in the new time and your body will soon adjust.
Remember what you know and don’t push the boundaries. You have spent a long time learning what you can and can’t eat and what you should do to stay feeling good. You want to relax on holiday but don’t let that mean that you forget these things – it really won’t be worth it when you’re bloated and sick. If you know that doing some light exercise helps you stay feeling great then fit that in in your day, if you know that eating too much sugar makes you feel shit then don’t eat too much sugar!