6 Tips for Traveling with IBS

Published on: 06/24/2024

Traveling with IBS

Traveling is fun and exciting but disrupts your routine, and having a consistent routine is important when managing IBS. Regular meals, exercise, stress management practices, and consistent sleeping habits are key to managing IBS symptoms.

Getting away from your normal day-to-day, frequent restaurant meals, and long car or airplane rides can make you anxious about traveling. Or, you may decide it’s not even worth it. However, with some planning and preparation, traveling with IBS is certainly possible and can be enjoyable.

6 Tips For Traveling with IBS

Tip # 1 – Be relaxed about the low FODMAP diet rules

If you started the low FODMAP diet and feel much better (as most people do), it’s understandable to want to avoid uncomfortable IBS symptoms while traveling. But you don’t need to be as strict when you travel.

Following a more “relaxed” version of the low FODMAP diet can help you enjoy the cuisine of the places you travel to and have more fun. You can allow yourself some leeway for the occasional food or meal that’s not low FODMAP and maintain good symptom control.

Taking out the stress and anxiety about finding enough low FODMAP options, and permitting yourself to make mistakes can set you up for success and avoid gut symptoms.

Finally, you could take a break from eating low FODMAP altogether. Then, you can return to it after you come home from your trip.

Tip # 2 – Bring some tried-and-true snacks

This is especially important when you are on the road, or in airports, and restaurant choices are limited. Having a few familiar snacks or mini-meals (low FODMAP if needed) will reduce the likelihood of having an IBS flare when traveling. Some of my favorites are:

  • Make-your-own trail mix (using low-FODMAP nuts and dried fruit)
  • Peanut butter jelly sandwich
  • Instant oatmeal packets (plain)
  • Portable nut butter pouches and tuna packs
  • Low FODMAP crackers or pretzels
  • Portable fruit (mandarins, oranges, greenish bananas, grapes)
  • Hard-boiled eggs, lactose-free yogurt, and string cheese (if you can carry a lunch bag with freezer packs)
  • Low FODMAP-certified granola & protein bars (look for the Monash University or FODMAP Friendly logos or find a list on the Monash FODMAP App).

Tip # 3 – Research local restaurants and grocery stores

First, do some online research before leaving for your trip, and check out the menus of local restaurants. Call ahead to ask for potential substitutions to avoid your known triggers. You can read more in my article 6 Tips for Eating Out on a Low-FODMAP Diet. On an airplane, pre-order a “bland meal”. It is usually free from garlic, hot spices, sauces, and fried or fatty foods.

Then, once you get to your vacation spot, look for a grocery store in the area and inquire about the availability of some of your tried-and-true foods and products you are used to eating at home. Staying in a hotel with a kitchenette or a rental property can help avoid eating exclusively in restaurants.

Tip # 4 – Prepare for a flight

Here are some tips to prevent gut symptoms if you are traveling by plane:

  1. Reduce the FODMAPs the day before your flight or at least for the two meals before flying. The gas in your gut expands in a pressurized cabin, and reducing foods that produce gas may make the flight more comfortable.
  2. Stay hydrated! It can help avoid constipation. Don’t rely on the beverages served on the plane but bring your water bottle and pack a bag of ginger or mint tea, which can also mitigate bloating.
  3. Avoid consuming carbonated beverages, which can increase gas and bloating.
  4. Limit or avoid caffeine, which speeds up your gut motility and may lead to loose stools or diarrhea.
  5. Get up from your seat and take a walk around the cabin during your flight. It can help expel gas and alleviate bloating. Moreover, it will improve circulation, especially on long flights.

Tip # 5 – Pack a survival kit

It can be comforting to know you have what it takes to manage a flare-up if it does happen. It makes you somewhat bolder about trying new foods and enjoying some local cuisine, especially if traveling abroad. Some helpful items are:

  • Peppermint oil capsules (enteric-coated) or peppermint tea bags
  • Ginger tea bags and ginger chews
  • A fiber supplement (ask your doctor or dietitian first)
  • An over-the-counter anti-diarrheal or gentle laxative
  • Enzymes for your known triggers (such as lactose, GOS, or fructans)

Tip # 6 – Manage your stress

Finally, some people find that, when they are on vacation and can get away from work or home stress, their IBS symptoms improve. This may happen despite eating just about anything they want!

This points to the impact of stress on IBS symptoms. If your trip is packed with lots of sightseeing, early rising times (or staying up late at night), and frequent car or airplane rides, make sure to carve out some time each day to relax, and get some physical activity. If at all possible, prioritize your sleep.

With the availability of yoga and meditation apps you can use anywhere, it should be easy to find some calm even if only for short bouts of time. Indeed, it can greatly reduce the chance of having an IBS flare and make your vacation more enjoyable!

Bottom Line

In summary, with some planning and preparation, you can enjoy traveling with IBS. You may take a break from the low FODMAP diet or follow a more relaxed version. Whatever you decide, being away from the stress of work, sleeping adequately, and carving out some time to relax, can allow you to avoid an IBS flare.

If you are struggling with IBS and are confused about how to find relief from uncomfortable gut symptoms and figure out your trigger foods, reach out to me. I would love to help you!

Let’s work together

Book a free IBS Clarity Call today!

Published August 10, 2021. Updated, June 23, 2024.

Jacqui portrait

I’m a registered dietitian with a passion for helping women with IBS find their way back to eating without fear of painful gut symptoms and without unnecessary diet restrictions.

Learn More About Me


Free Guide

Jacqui portrait

Discover how to find relief from bloating so you can feel comfortable in your favorite clothes without restricting your diet!

Download the Free Guide


Pin It on Pinterest

Share This