Let's be truthful – most people get constipated when they travel. It's also easy to gain weight if that buffet table or local cuisine catches your eye. The combination of constipation and weight gain can leave you feeling bloated, blocked, and bummed out; vacations are designed to be good for your spirit, revitalizing your body, and a refreshing change from your daily rhythms of life.
The good news is that you don't have to sacrifice your well-being for a good time! In this blog post, we'll explore how common these issues are and share some valuable tips to help you enjoy your vacation to the fullest without worrying about gaining weight or dealing with digestive discomfort.
The Biggest Challenges of Travel That Can Make Your Vacation Lame
First off, jet lag can be brutal. Traveling across time zones disrupts the body's circadian rhythm, leading to fatigue, insomnia, and digestive issues.
Then there’s dehydration. The low humidity levels in the plane's cabin can cause dehydration, dry skin, nosebleeds, chapped lips, and headaches. It's important to stay hydrated even despite the headache of how much a bottle of water will cost you. Air conditioning can also cause dehydration, so try to get fresh air as much as possible. If you're adventuring at altitude, dehydration can really rear its ugly head. Even if you're floating in a pool, you need to stay hydrated!
Exposure to germs is a huge risk before, during, and after traveling, especially since many are germs you may not have encountered before. Your body doesn't have antibodies in its "immune Rolodex” for them. Have you ever read those articles by flight attendants that reveal the truth about flying? Airplanes are a breeding ground for germs. Remember, that’s not water on the bathroom floor! Beyond contact exposures, travelers are at risk of catching colds, flu, and other illnesses. This is especially true in airline and cruise terminals and on a plane before the air filtration systems kick in. Water-borne germs can cause problems when you get to your destination. Always opt for bottled water and mind the ice cubes too.
Traveling means added stress…the exact opposite outcome you want. Getting to the airport, navigating check-in and baggage check, crowded waiting areas, flight delays, and screaming kids (yours or theirs) all take a toll on our nerves.
Even if the captain has turned off the seat belt sign, most of us sit for long periods. If you're taking a road trip, you'll sit for even longer. Not moving causes our lymph to pool, our ankles and feet to swell, blood clots can form, our kidneys get sluggish, and our digestive systems can bind up.
And, of course, there’s the food. Whether you're on a "Diners Across America" tour or adventuring in a totally different culture, you want to sample the local tasties and treats. New choices or foods we don't often eat (often higher in grease, bread, sugar, and salt) can lead to constipation. When we’re on vacation, it’s also easy to ignore the signals from our bodies because we’re focused on fun. But you need your “vehicle” to be in running order if you don’t want your vacation to be a tour of “the bathrooms I’ve seen.”
Avoiding Constipation While Traveling
At least 40% of travelers report they suffer from "vacation constipation." My guess is that number is actually higher because it’s a topic people most people want to avoid. But constipation can ruin a trip!
The most common causes of travel constipation (dry stool) are dehydration, alcohol and coffee consumption, and disruption of your body's regular routines. Our bodies are creatures of habit. Different foods and drinks can cause problems, as can a lack of movement and sleep. The worst part is that it often comes home with us and sticks around even when we return to our "normal" life patterns. If you’re having the opposite problem, try increasing your fiber intake for better bowel movements. If you find you're on a rollercoaster of chronic constipation and diarrhea, make plans to address it before your trip. You may have a medical condition that needs attention.
Don’t Feel Like a Pool Floatie – Have a Bloat-Fee Vacation
Do you dread putting on a bathing suit? Is your skort getting short to cover your belly? Are your hiking pants riding like Urkel’s because your waistline is gone? All of these can put a damper on your vacation spirit.
The whole idea of a vacation is to feel good! But carrying extra weight, feeling bloated, and gaining weight WHILE you're on vacation can steal your joy.
Getting ready for a trip can be stressful, so you might find yourself reaching for sugary snacks to comfort you (or snacks that turn to sugar like processed carbohydrates.) You might find yourself eating while daydreaming of all the things you anticipate doing (aka mindless eating.) We also tend to put in a lot of extra hours before we leave so everyone has eeeeverything we can think of that they might need from us during our time away. Just thinking about that is stressful.
Start incorporating more fiber into your diet to reduce bloating before your trip. While most fiber supplements will cause bloating, a good prebiotic fiber is like a buffet for your good gut bacteria. If you often find your belly bloated and are embarrassed by unexpected gas, prebiotic fiber can help. I take Ready Fiber every day, and I like to travel with it too. Just 2 tablespoons provide half your daily recommended fiber. Add it to your morning coffee or juice, or throw some in your water bottle with some mashed berries and a pinch of Himalayan Sea Salt for a better-for-you sports drink.
That Fierce Sunburn Gave You More Than Just Tan Lines
Returning from a vacation with a nice glow and healthy, rosy cheeks always feels good. But coming home with a sunburn and peeling skin is kind of gross and does more than just cosmetic damage. The integrity of our skin's dermal layers is affected by too much sun. The long-term effects on our skin can lead to accelerated aging, skin damage, sunspots, and even skin cancer.
A sunburn also triggers an inflammatory response. In the immediate, your skin is red and puffy; but a sunburn also can lower your immune strength. This is especially bad while traveling when you may be exposed to new bugs or mired in a concentrated environment of germs. If the COVID-19 pandemic taught us anything, we learned that germs like to travel…fast. Too much sun can make you a prime tourist spot for germs.
Too much sun exposure can cause damage to your eyes. The sun's ultraviolet (UV) radiation can harm your eyes' surface tissues, cornea, and lens. You can also literally get a sunburn on your eyes, a condition called photokeratitis. Reflecting light can be equally damaging if you're on the water or hiking in rocks or the desert. You need to take precautions inside and out.
Your Vacation Wellness Essential Travel Plan
Let’s make sure you have a relaxing vacation; we’ve taken the stress out of being prepared with this simple plan to avoid travel constipation and vacation weight gain.
Keep taking SLIMit to come back from your vacay without gaining weight. Take a shot of AminoSculpt collagen every night for a good night's sleep; add it to sparkling water during the day for a shot of protein and a great alternative to a sugary soft drink.
Added Tips For A GREAT Trip
I love, love, love to travel. Sometimes it's great to sit by the pool and just read, and on other trips, I love adventures – physical challenges, exploring new cultures, and I'm always trying new foods. So here are some of my secrets for a great trip so I don't come home stuffed and stopped up.
Don't Miss Out, But Balance the Decadence. Treat yourself to local delicacies but balance it out with healthy choices too. Try fresh fruits, vegetables, raw foods, and lean proteins for two meals each day, and then indulge in something decadent for one. If you can make the “big cheat” your late afternoon meal, your digestive system has a chance to do its job before you sleep on a meal. (You’ll also save money as early meals are often less expensive.) Savor the flavors by chewing slowly to really experience what you’re eating. Take a taste of all the dishes you fancy at the buffet but make it a taste, not a full-sized entrée – then you can have some of everything!
Reach for grilled and steamed dishes over fried ones. If there's an amazing sauce that makes your mouth water, ask for some on the side so you can enjoy the flavor without a heavy, richly-sauced entrée.
Enjoy desserts by splitting them with your travel mates; you'll get to try multiple things and still keep it light. I try to avoid junk foods, it's a treat to try new foods and you can get junk foods of all types any time at home. Amidst the nirvana of all those wonderful flavors, pay attention to when you start to feel full and stop eating. If you keep going until you can't even eat a wafer-thin mint, you won't feel good an hour later or the day after. Voice of experience on that one!
Make Being Active Fun. Explore your destination on foot, take a morning stroll on the beach, or try out activities you’ve never considered - like hiking, biking, trapeze, volleyball, Zumba, salsa dance class, or yoga. Physical activity will burn calories, help you sleep soundly, and energize you. Pro tip: quiet the inner judge that says you need to be instantly competent at things you try – learning something new means making mistakes and being uncoordinated. Laugh as you learn! Laughter releases neurotransmitters that make us feel good and are good for the brain and the digestive system.
If you’ve eaten a big meal, meander. Walk to a place for a nice glass of wine (along with some water.) And if the opportunity presents itself, dance to the local music, even if it’s a polka – that’s what great memories are made of, right?!
Hydrate. Hydrate. Hydrate. Did I mention hydrate? All liquids help, like iced tea and fruit juices, but you need to drink plenty of water. Alcohol is actually dehydrating. My secret habit is that I alternate with a big glass of water for every mixed drink, beer, or glass of wine. I also start my day with a glass of water before I even get out of bed. I pack a small flask or two, but not for alcohol. I put some AminoSculpt or Ready Fiber in them! Try a shot of AminoSculpt in Seltzer or sparkling water as a sugar-free soft drink substitute. Or, infuse a water bottle with fruit, water, Ready Fiber, and ice. If you’re really active, remember coconut water is better than a sports drink for hydration and electrolytes. Make getting plenty of fluids one of your vacation goals.
Plan To Sleep. Try to manage dramatic time changes by arriving at times when your day would be winding down. Or if you’re arriving early in the morning, rest when you get to your room; a 20-minute catnap can be very revitalizing. Then get up and walk a bit. (Remember to drink extra water so you don’t get shin splints.) Make sure you move on the plane, train, car, or ship. If your travels have you arriving or leaving early, take an early slow walk and enjoy the peace before everyone begins their day. Remember you don’t have to do EVERYTHING the day you arrive. And finally, ignore the FOMO, don’t skip getting sleep, especially if your next day is hard-charging. You want to return from your vacation rested rather than ragged.
I always travel with products from Health Direct. My "Travel Pack" links here are convenient sizes for your suitcase, including SLIMit™, RestorIt™, AminoSculpt®, Ready Fiber™, Qubeco, and Sculpt N' Cleanse®. These are the perfect take-alongs to make sure your vacation is smooth and memorable for all the right reasons.
Use Coupon Code REGULARTRIP20 for 20% all Health Direct products to create your own travel pack.
* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
Lisa Moretti is a Certified Health Coach from the Institute of Integrative Nutrition (IIN), the largest nutrition school in the world. She was at the top of her cohort in 2015. She's professionally been involved in the natural health and supplement world since 1981.