Travel is not only a favorite hobby for me, but also largely responsible for how I earn a living. Yes, traveling to exotic destinations, cruises, the beach, the mountains, and abroad are fun and exciting times, but the not-so-lovely-side includes traveler’s gut which can mean trouble for all aspects of your digestive tract.
Early on I learned that traveler’s gut is a real thing, and over the years I have come up with my own ways of dealing with it. The best way to deal with it, of course, is to avoid it…keep it at bay. And, while there are times when you do your best and still end up feeling less than stellar, there are also times when three easy things help me stay healthy as a traveler.
What Causes Traveler’s Gut?
First things first though. Why do people get traveler’s gut? Most folks have a somewhat regular routine at home between work, family life, social life, etc. Traveling takes most of us out of that routine and our systems get off-track. We are in different environments, eating different foods, and exposed to more bacteria and germs. Suddenly our bodies are wondering what’s going on and the rebellion comes in various forms: upset stomach, heartburn, indigestion, constipation, diarrhea and just general feeling bad.
One thing we can all do is know what to watch for in particular destinations. It’s pretty common knowledge that drinking the water in a lot of destinations is a no-no. Parasites are transmitted this way, as well as on fruits and veggies (lettuce, apple skins, etc.). Pass on foods like these that don’t come from high-end restaurants and be cautious of vendors on the street. Take some precautionary meds in your carry-on bag in case something doesn’t sit well with you (upset stomach caplets, antidiarrheal caplets…you get the picture). Also, carry bottled water everywhere with you and ask for it specifically in restaurants. Knowledge is always king, so educate yourself about the culinary aspects of where you are traveling.
3 Tips for Keeping Traveler’s Gut at Bay
- Drink plenty of bottled water. Keep yourself hydrated and well-equipped to keep foods moving through your system. You always need more water than you think you do.
- Incorporate plenty of fiber-rich and healthy foods into your travel routine. Destinations often entice us with their amazing culinary creations and I expect that you, like myself, will want to indulge. I mean, we’re only human, right? Just be mindful of your dietary needs and add a green leafy salad to your lunch or dinner and find some yogurt at breakfast. There are also some good probiotic drinks on the market that it certainly doesn’t hurt to partake in.
- Probiotics. The use of probiotics has changed how I feel when traveling. Yes, you get some probiotics from foods (yogurt and sauerkraut are a couple of common ones), but not nearly enough. Searching for a good probiotic can be a daunting task with so many on the market. You’ll want one with high quantities and different strains of probiotics, so a little research is in order. A natural health food store is generally a good place to start or a trusted pharmacist. I find it helpful to take these on a regular basis, but if you think you only need them when traveling, I would start them a week or so prior to travel and continue for another week when you return. As with anything, always feel empowered to speak to your health care professional for advice regarding probiotics as many of them are starting to realize the vast benefits of these supplements. Gut health is so important!
Keep in mind, traveler’s gut isn’t just an occurrence when traveling overseas. You can get it domestically, especially if the food you are eating is different from your normal diet. Be smart. Stay healthy. Just as you would travel with sunscreen to outdoor locations or the beach, always take along items to keep your gut in check.
These statements are not intended as medical advice or to replace advice given by a medical professional. They are my opinions and should be taken as just that. These statements have not been evaluated by any medical professional or the FDA. Again, simply my thoughts and opinions on the subject of traveler’s gut.