Preventing travel constipation

Preventing travel constipation

Constipation is a chronic issue for millions of people but even for the most regular bathroom-goers, constipation can rear its ugly head during travel.  In fact, travel constipation is so common, there are over 8 million results for “travel constipation” searches on Google.  Before your vacation is ruined by constipation, bloating and gas pain, get ahead of it.  Below is your official Florasophy guide for preventing travel constipation, so you never have to suffer traveler’s constipation again.

What causes constipation during travel

Changes to routines, diets and hydration are the primary causes of traveler’s constipation.  From airport food, to increased alcohol use or long periods of sitting on planes, trains and in automobiles, your digestive tract takes a hit. Digestion and elimination are part of our circadian rhythm as well, so even changing time zones and sleep routines can affect regularity.

Prevention is key

Instead of getting behind the curve on constipation, responding only after you’ve missed your toilet time for one or more days, start to prep your digestive tract before you head out on your trip. Here are the most effective prevention tips to reduce your risk of traveler’s constipation.

  1. Increased hydration a few days before your travel plans begin and add electrolytes to your daily routine.

Consume at least ½ your body weight in purified water or at least 24 ounces of additional water on top of what you normally drink.  In addition, add at least one dose of electrolytes daily (Choose your favorite brand and flavor at your local health food store, but avoid electrolytes with high amounts of sugar).  This will help your body move water more efficiently into and out of the colon.  Continue to consume higher amounts of water throughout your trip and take your electrolytes with you.

  1. Pack travel snacks

Instead of being forced to choose between fast food restaurants or packaged junk food at airport convenience stores, pack your carry-on with sprouted nuts and seeds, apple slices, veggies and hummus and other easy whole-food snacks that will boost your fiber intake. Processed foods, dairy products and gluten are all common triggers of intestinal inflammation and constipation.  Consider avoiding these foods, especially when traveling so you can feel your best.

  1. Focus on fiber

The right fiber balance is critical for constipation-prevention. That said, your fiber needs may change when travel disrupts your normal routine. Travel can mean rich restaurant meals, but you can tolerate the change in diet if you keep your fiber intake up.  This means not only consuming veggies and fruits for insoluble fiber that can bulk your stool but making sure that even 3-4 days before you hit the road, you’re increasing soluble fiber with beans, lentils, chia, flax, and of course, Florasophy.  Try to maintain 15-20g soluble fiber per day.  While you’re at it, take Florasophy on your trip and consume at least one serving per day, making sure to consume at least 12 ounces of EXTRA water after every 1 tablespoon of fiber you take.

  1. Magnesium

While you’re tucking your bag of Florasophy in your suitcase, consider throwing in a bottle of magnesium oxide tablets from your local health food store.  Not only can magnesium help you get better sleep if you take it just before bedtime, but this form of magnesium is also not well absorbed so much of it stays in your colon and draws water to it.  This means smoother bathroom experiences every morning.  Most people notice improvements in constipation with 300-600mg magnesium citrate.  You may have to adjust your dose up or down depending on your body’s unique response.

  1. Melatonin

Travel can not only upset digestion, but it can throw a wrench in your bedtime routine, especially if you’re changing time zones. Not only can melatonin help you achieve deep sleep and adjust to a different sleep schedule, it’s been shown to help prevent constipation as well.  Most studies used 3mg melatonin, but we have found that using 5-6mg time released (or SRT) melatonin has good effects on sleep quality while still promoting healthy bowel movements.

  1. Stay Active

Exercise and movement stimulate digestion and peristalsis in the gut.  Sitting for long periods of time can lead to reduced motility in the gut.  Make sure to stay active when traveling and even on travel-days, make sure to move every hour. Get up and stretch or walk up and down the aisle on airplanes or trains.  If you’re driving, pull over whenever you’re able to safely and do some jumping jacks, stretch or walk around for a few minutes.

Stay ahead of the curve

If you’re already prone towards constipation, you need to pay attention to prevention more than most. The good news is, these tips work for preventing constipation even if you're not traveling. If you’re not having a daily bowel movement, check out the tips above to achieve daily bowel movements before you’re scheduled for your trip and then stay on top of it.  It’s no fun to be constipated, and it can also be a serious health risk.


About Megan Barnett, MS, CNS

Megan Barnett, MSMegan Barnett is a functional medicine practitioner in Portland, Oregon. In her clinical practice, she helps patients identify the root cause of their health problems, then designs individualized and evidence-based approaches to alleviate symptoms and help their bodies heal. She has a Bachelor of Science in Dietetics from Kansas State University and a Master of Science in Nutrition and Functional Medicine from University of Western States.