No matter where you go, there you are — and, at some point, you're going to have to poop. Whether you're on vacation just steps from some scenic, salty waves or visiting your grandma, a change of scenery can cause some serious distress within your guts. But you'll be glad to know there are some easy ways to keep everything on track.
The first thing to know is that you're not alone here: "The fear of not being able to have a satisfying poop while on vacation is a big deal for patients," says Felice Schnoll-Sussman, MD, a gastroenterologist at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital and Weill Cornell Medicine. And it's all thanks to that change in your routine.
For starters, your meals are probably going to be at least a little bit different, which means you may not be getting as much fiber or water as you usually would. Ideally, we should be getting at least 20 grams of fiber every day, which helps keep your bowels moving regularly. And staying hydrated, of course, "helps to make the stools softer and easier to pass," explains Dr. Schnoll-Sussman.
On top of dietary changes, you may be dealing with the inherent stress of planning and taking a trip. That alone may be enough to back up things up for some of us — especially those dealing with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). "A ‘stress-free’ vacation can throw their underlying symptoms of constipation into a tailspin," Dr. Schnoll-Sussman.
So if you're concerned about being able to poop on vacation, it's crucial to stick to as much of a routine as you can — even when your meals aren't on a set schedule. To that end, Dr. Schnoll-Sussman suggests keeping fiber-rich snacks with you (such as raisins, bran cereal, or nuts) and making sure you always have a full water bottle by your side. Additionally, you can try to stick to your usual routine and sit on the toilet at your normal time even if you don't really have to go (which may be more difficult depending on how many time zones you're crossing).
In general, though, a short bout of constipation isn't going to do too much damage. However, if you haven't pooped in few days despite getting enough water and fiber, and you're starting to feel uncomfortable, you may want to try a gentle laxative, Dr. Schnoll-Sussman says. Going to the bathroom is probably the last thing you want to be worrying about while you're sipping brightly-colored cocktails on the beach, anyway.