5 Ways to Avoid Travel Constipation

Travel Features constipation
5 Ways to Avoid Travel Constipation

“Get Out There” is a column for itchy footed humans written by long-time Paste contributor Blake Snow. Today we examine a “going” problem: travel constipation. 

Constipation feels gross. Sadly, it’s a common occurrence while traveling

There are three reasons for this: planes dehydrate the human body like no other, which can seriously clog our pipes;  time zone changes wreak havoc on our daily routines and digestive cycles; and dietary changes confuse our guts to the point of slowing them down. 

But there are several things each of us can do to get our poop chutes working again when traveling. Here are five proven strategies to getting back to “regular” when away from home. 

Drink excess water and avoid caffeine

Dehydration is the leading cause of constipation. So if you want to clear your colon, you gotta drink a lot more water, and keep drinking it until everything is flushed out. Think of it like a toilet—no water, no flushing. The same is true of constipation. So drink more than you usually do because flying in pressurized cabins at 30,000 feet dries you out fast. Also, be sure to avoid caffeine and sugary drinks, which complicate matters. 

Eat fruits and veggies while avoiding junk food

Next to water, fiber helps our digestive system better than anything else. So if you’re constipated, go out of your way to eat fruits, veggies, and whole grains in large quantities. While you’re at it, avoid fatty, processed, and high-sugar foods, which compound the clogging process. Red meat, too, can slow down digestion, so avoid that until things are running smoothly. You’re gonna wanna eat junk while crossing time zones, but you’ll feel a lot better if you stay strong with a fiber rich diet. 

Get moving—even on planes

Sitting for long periods, especially on planes, makes it difficult to move a stool. When coupled with refraining from liquids out of fear of inconveniencing your aisle mate to go to the bathroom, this creates a double whammy for constipation. Not only will drinking lots of water hydrate your innards, it forces you to get up and move more often, which helps your intestines do their job. So experts recommend getting up once every 60-90 minutes while flying. And as silly as they look, stretches, lunges, and squats in the galley or aisle can help even more.

Supplement with prunes, probiotics, and fiber pills

On long haul and intercontinental flights, doing the above might still not be enough. In those situations, I like to bring in the big guns, namely two to three servings of prunes, probiotics, and/or fiber pills. I wouldn’t take all three at the same time, since I don’t condone “violence.” But you can and should reach for what works best. In my case, that’s supplemental prunes and fiber pills to fill in the gaps and get me back to normal. 

Don’t fret—it’ll eventually come out

Although constipation can be uncomfortable, particularly when traveling to someplace new, it rarely kills anyone. So don’t get all worked up if and when it happens to you in the sometimes extreme or non-routine conditions while away from home. Don’t force it. Go when you feel the urge. And try to get back into a routine schedule as quickly as you can while traveling. Then just be patient and trust in the system. Our intestines are good at their job. 

Hope everything comes out okay. 

For more on how to stay safe and comfortable while flying or traveling:

18 travel tips that actually work

How to survive 16 hours in the sky

5 tips for sleeping on planes

Blake Snow contributes to fancy publications and Fortune 500 companies as a bodacious writer-for-hire and frequent travel columnist. He lives in Provo, Utah with his wife, five children, and one ferocious chihuahua.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Share Tweet Submit Pin