How to care for your gut while traveling

How to care for your gut while traveling

Travel is a time to relax and unwind. Ironically, the lifestyle changes that come with travel can often be quite stressful for our gut. Follow these simple tips to help keep your gut happy when you’re out of office.

Caitlin Hall
by Dr Caitlin Hall (APD, PhD)
Chief Dietitian and Head of Clinical Research

When we go on holidays, it’s not just the timezone that changes. Our sleeping patterns, food choices, water intake, and exercise routine often shift quite dramatically when we travel. For those with irritable bowel syndrome, constipation, food intolerances, or other digestive issues, these lifestyle changes can often result in a whole lot of discomfort, pain, frustration, and stress. 

To help you reclaim your stress-free holiday, I’ve put together my top tips to help manage tricky digestive issues while abroad. 

💧 Drink plenty of water

Many of us forget to drink enough water on holiday, particularly if we’re constantly on the go or are unsure where the next toilet is. But staying hydrated is one of the most important things we can do to keep our digestive system moving and promote regular bowel movements. Aim for minimum 2-3L a day for women, and 2.5-3.5L a day for men.

Note: If you’re traveling to warmer climates, being more active than usual, or consuming alcohol, it’s important to increase the amount of water that you would normally have at home.

💤 Keep a consistent sleep routine

When we travel, we disrupt the predictable cycles of sleep, wakefulness, and eating. Research suggests that even after a few nights of poor quality sleep, not only do we feel exhausted, but our gut microbes suffer too. 

Try and maintain a regular sleep routine while on holidays, aiming for 7-8 hours of high quality sleep every night. Work by sleep expert Matthew Walker suggests that you can enhance sleep quality by limiting screen time at least two hours before bed, keeping your room cool, and minimizing artificial lighting from outside.

🥦 Boost fibre intake

One of the most common causes of vacation constipation (otherwise known as travel constipation) is a low-fibre diet. This condition is incredibly common, even if you don’t normally have trouble going to the toilet. Vacation constipation is predominantly related to a reduced intake of fresh fruit, vegetables, and grains, and increased intake of highly-processed foods - like bread sticks, pastries, cakes, and desserts. Other contributing factors to vacation constipation include inconsistent meal times, travelers stress, and lack of food availability due to food allergies/intolerances.

As an insurance policy, I recommend taking a zip-lock bag of your myota mix with you and stir 1-2 scoops into water first thing in the morning. During day trips, take high-fibre cereal bars, nuts and dried fruits, or a piece of fresh fruit. 

🏃‍♀️ Stay active 

Try to stay physically active during your holiday, whether that’s a 60 min walk or a swim in the ocean. Keeping your body moving helps your digestive tract moving well, and your gut microbes healthy. 

Tip: Going for a walk, hike, or run in a forest increases the diversity of beneficial gut microbes. 

📖 Do your research 

If you have food allergies or intolerances, doing some research beforehand can save a lot of stress and anxiety when eating out. Even in more remote areas, there’s often a blog article or community forum on where to find the best gluten free, lactose free, or low FODMAP options. 

If you’re traveling to a country where you don’t speak the language, take advantage of google translate to communicate with the restaurant staff what options are available for you. 


Bring myota along for the journey

Sometimes it's not always practical to find high fibre foods on the road or in airports. An easy solution is to pack your myota fibre to bring with you on your trip. Hint: Put any open packets into a zip lock bag to make sure you don't get any unfortunate surprises after the flight.