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Maintaining Optimal Nutrition While Traveling: Tips for Beating Travel Constipation

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Traveling is an exciting experience that allows us to explore new destinations and create lasting memories. However, it can also disrupt our daily routines, including our dietary habits. When I was planning my trip to Bali, you can bet my head was filled with images of luxurious beaches and cool bamboo huts. What does not tend to come to mind is constipation, worrying about protein, or what the food sanitation process is like.

Keeping to our normal nutrition/ diet while on the go can be challenging, and many travelers also face the unpleasant issue of constipation. This is so common in fact, that it has been termed travel constipation. This can happen for a number of reasons that I outline below, along with how to feel best while traveling!

1. Plan Ahead

Research Your Destination: Before embarking on your journey, familiarize yourself with the local cuisine. Learn about the availability of fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins at your destination. As well as learning about food sanitation in the region you are traveling to. If you can’t drink the water, then raw fruits and vegetables need to be washed in bottled, distilled or deionised water.

Pack Snacks: Carry nutritious snacks, packed with great fiber, such as dried fruits, nuts, protein bars, and whole-grain crackers to ensure we don’t get over hungry while out and about! It is super common to run into issues with low fiber while traveling, this is especially true if we can’t eat the raw fruits or vegetables in the area we travel too. See number 3.

2. Stay Hydrated

Drink plenty of water before, during, and after your journey. While fun beverages are attractive and should definitely be a part of our trip, we can sometimes forget about water. I will tell you that staying in a Bali jungle with no AC means sweating and sweating means increased water needs. Staying hydrated helps maintain regular bowel movements and prevents constipation.

3. Emphasize Fiber-Rich Foods

Include Fruits and Vegetables: Seek out local markets or grocery stores to stock up on fresh produce. Fruits and vegetables are excellent sources of fiber and can help regulate digestion.Just make sure to ask how it was washed

Choose Whole Grains whenever you can: Opt for whole grain bread, rice, and cereals whenever possible. These foods are higher in fiber, promoting healthy digestion.

Bring some trail mix: Nuts are fantastic snack that are packed with unsaturated fat, protein, and fiber!

4. Mindful Eating

While out and about, it can be easy to fall off of our normal eating routine or miss meals. This can lead to overeating, which in turn, can lead to digestive discomfort and constipation. Make sure you check in with yourselves and keep as best you can to your normal eating pattern. Don’t forget to enjoy yourself!

Slow Down: Take time to enjoy your meals and chew your food thoroughly. Eating slowly aids digestion and allows your body to recognize when it is full. 

What is missing: One thing I like to make sure I do while traveling is to ask myself, is this meal complete? One thing I noticed in Bali was the protein portions were much smaller than I typically do well eating. This meant I needed to check out, how could I increase this so that I feel my best!

5. Exercise and Movement

Stay Active: Engage in physical activity during your travels. Take walks, explore the local area on foot, or find a nearby gym if available. Exercise helps stimulate bowel movements and promotes overall well-being. Don’t forget about your mental health benefits either!

Stretching: Incorporate simple stretching exercises into your daily routine. These movements can help alleviate muscle tension and enhance digestion. Stress relief is one of our best friends for our body being in rest and digest mode!

6. Natural Remedies for Constipation: to be used only if needed

Prunes and Prune Juice: Prunes are a natural laxative and can provide relief from constipation. Carry some dried prunes or consider drinking prune juice as a gentle remedy. 

Psyllium Husk: Psyllium husk is a fiber supplement that can be mixed with water or added to foods. It helps soften stools and promotes regular bowel movements. Check out Metamucil as a great fiber supplement.

7. Consult a Healthcare Professional:

If you experience prolonged or severe constipation while traveling, it’s essential to seek medical advice. A healthcare professional can provide guidance tailored to your specific needs and suggest appropriate interventions.

Maintaining a nourishing diet while traveling is crucial to ensure overall well-being and prevent issues like constipation. By planning ahead, prioritizing hydration, incorporating fiber-rich foods, practicing mindful eating, staying active, and exploring natural remedies, you can enjoy your travels while keeping your digestion in check. Remember to listen to your body and seek professional advice if necessary. Happy and healthy travels!

Written by our Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor, Genevieve Traversa, MS, RD, CIEC