Summer Travel Tips to Keep Your Gut Microbiome Healthy

Summer Travel Tips to Keep Your Gut Microbiome Healthy

Kara Jacobson

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Summer is here and you know what that means: adventure awaits! Whether you're taking a day trip to your favorite local spot, planning an out-of-the-country getaway, or heading a few states over for your bestie's wedding, travel plans can book up your summer calendar pretty quickly.

Getting ready for an upcoming trip is exciting, no doubt. But do you ever find that sense of excitement is followed by worry about potential digestive discomfort? If so, you're definitely not alone.

In this blog, we'll talk about some of the most common digestive challenges you may experience while traveling, why they happen, and some practical tools to ease your travel digestion so that you can spend your vacation enjoying scenery outside of the bathroom!

Travel Digestion Concern #1: Vacation Constipation

We've all been there, right? You're living your best life, relaxing into vacation mode, only to realize that you haven't made a #2 trip to the bathroom since you made it to your destination. As a result, you might be feeling some stomach cramping, bloating, or even a loss of appetite.

This is a common travel occurrence that often results from a change in routine, lack of fiber intake, not drinking enough fluids, and/or ignoring the urge to pass stools. If vacation constipation is a part of the traveling experience you'd like avoid this summer, here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  • Pack a reusable water bottle and keep it filled throughout your travel adventures.
  • Aim to drink a glass of water first thing in the morning before you head out for activities.
  • Have fun with hydration! Water is great, but other fluids (including kombucha) can also help you meet your daily fluid goals.
  • Try to include at least two sources of fiber daily in your vacation meals + snacks. Think: fruits, veggies, whole grains, nuts, and seeds. Refreshing fruit smoothies, anyone?
  • If you have the urge to go, try not to avoid it. Bathroom situations while traveling can sometimes be awkward and uncomfortable, but ignoring a needed trip to the bathroom will only add to your discomfort later.

Travel Digestion Concern #2: Airplane Belly

From takeoff to landing, your body is working to adjust to the changes it experiences while in the air. One of these changes is the shift in atmospheric pressure. Air pressure inside the main cabin increases and decreases according to the plane's altitude. If you've ever felt your ears pop upon takeoff, it's because the air inside your ear canal is adjusting to match the air pressure inside the main cabin. Something similar happens within your digestive tract!

Air that naturally gathers inside of your intestines will increase and decrease to make up for changes in the cabin air pressure, sometimes leading to a buildup of gas that contributes to travel bloating. The good news is, these symptoms shouldn't last too long once you land and adjust to your new destination. Here are a few things to consider if you're hopping on a plane in the near future:

  • Stay hydrated during the flight. Although trips to the airplane bathroom are frustrating, hydration is key to feeling your best post-flight. Plus, it's a great opportunity to move around a bit.
  • Before flights, consider snacks that are easy to digest. These choices will look different for everyone, but some general suggestions include: an apple + peanut butter, eggs + toast, yogurt + granola, etc.

Travel Digestion Concern #3: Travel Nausea

Travel nausea is another common occurrence. Not only are you out of your regular routine when you're traveling, but you may also be exploring a different variety of foods, enjoying more alcoholic beverages than usual, and spending more time in moving vehicles which may lead to motion-related nausea. No matter the cause, here are some tips to help you keep travel nausea at bay:

  • Keep some quick and easy snacks on hand that you know won't upset your stomach.
  • If you choose to drink, try to balance your intake of alcoholic drinks with non-alcoholic drinks. Maybe even consider some kombucha mocktails?
  • Be mindful of your caffeine intake. Drinking too much caffeine daily can lead to jitteriness and nausea in some people, so know your limits!
  • Pack some sugar free mint gum and/or ginger chews. Mint and ginger can help settle your stomach!

No matter what you have planned over the coming months, I hope you remember to have fun and find small ways to care for yourself daily. Here's to a nourished and hydrated summer ahead!

This blog post was written by Claire Chewning, RDN & Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor

Claire Chewning

Claire is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor who's not on board with restrictive diets. She’s the owner and founder of Yours Chewly Nutrition, a virtual private practice where she helps individuals heal from chronic dieting and disordered eating so that they can discover peace and trust in their relationships with food + body. She’s also Health-Ade’s Registered Dietitian Advisor and loves educating employees and consumers about all things gut health from a non-diet perspective! She even writes a few blogs from time to time. Cheers!

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