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Can’t “Go”? How to Have Healthy Poop When Traveling


If your digestion comes to a screeching halt the moment you set foot in an airport, you’re not alone. Whether you’re jet-setting, hitting the road by car, or visiting friends, travel constipation is common — and the discomfort it causes is sure to put a damper on fun or restful plans. The good news is that with a few simple hacks, you can have healthy poop while traveling. 

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You asked: Why is my poop different when I travel?

Even if you’re normally regular, travel can throw off your digestion for a few reasons.


As fun as travel can be, it comes with its fair share of stressors, too. Whether you’re anxious about missing a connection, nervous about using public restrooms, or clashing with travel companions, travel stress can impact digestive function and cause uncomfortable symptoms like constipation and bloating.

“Your nervous system and digestive system are always in communication with each other,” says Jenn Baswick, RD, MHSc. Emotional stress can have a real and substantial impact on digestive function by slowing the movement of food through your digestive tract and suppressing the urge to “go,” Baswick adds.

  • Fix it: Baswick suggests incorporating stress management strategies into your travel routine to lessen the impact on your gut. Deep breathing, gentle stretching, and meditation can help keep your mind calm and your belly working optimally. 

Related: 5 Tips to Calm Your Nervous System When You’re Stressed

Less movement

Physical activity strengthens the muscles in your digestive tract and keeps blood flowing so it can do its job and keep things moving. In fact, a 2023 review in Nutrients found that physical activity is a key lifestyle change to help manage symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome.

When you’re traveling, it’s normal for your exercise routine to be disrupted. Less movement can slow things down in your gut, too, which can result in constipation and discomfort. 

  • Fix it: The good news is, gentle movement is all you need to keep your bathroom habits regular. Stretch your legs with 10-minute walks when you’re waiting at airports and transit stations, and try to see the sights by foot. Any movement you can add to your travel routine makes a difference.

Change in routine 

Even a simple change of routine can keep you from having healthy poop. Just as having a set sleep and wake time can help you rest more efficiently, regular bathroom breaks can help with elimination — and that’s often thrown off when you travel.

“Our gut-brain connection is a bi-directional communication,” says Marcie Vaske MS, LN, CNS. “If a bowel movement has been suppressed because there has been a lack of a bathroom when needed, this may inhibit the sensation to return, and create constipation.”

  • Fix it: Try to stick to your usual bathroom schedule during travel. Ideally, you want to eat breakfast each morning and carve out some toilet time right after. Your body needs to be in a rest-and-digest state to poop (the opposite of “fight or flight”),, so make sure you’re giving yourself time to facilitate proper bowel movements. 

Less fiber 

We all know fiber is important for keeping things regular, but it becomes even more critical when traveling due to the many bowel-disrupting factors at play. When stress is high and routines are out of whack, fiber is one impactful habit where you have a little more control. 

Still, fiber isn’t always easy to find in unfamiliar environments. “One of the great parts of traveling is trying new foods or restaurants, especially if they’re part of the local culture,” says Amy Beney, MS RD CDCES. “These foods taste amazing, but may not be known for their high fiber content.”

Related: RD-Approved High Fiber Snacks for a Healthy Gut

Not enough water 

One big enemy to healthy poop: dehydration. It can be hard to find spots to fill up on fluids on long days, and depending on your destination, finding safe drinking water can be a challenge, too. And let’s be honest — water isn’t always what we’re craving when local wine or poolside cocktails are on offer.

“Adequate hydration helps your digestive system function optimally, including ensuring intestines are lubricated and also softening poops, which makes it easier to pass,” says Shannon A. Garcia, MDS, RD, LD. When you’re low on fluids and fiber, your gut is going to have a difficult time keeping food moving through. 

  • Fix it: Garcia suggests packing electrolytes and a refillable water bottle when traveling. Not only can this help ease the challenge of finding bottled water, it also adds flavor to make water more appealing, and makes hydration more efficient.

Related: Why Drinking Enough Water is Important for Gut Health

How to have healthy poop when traveling 

The next time you travel, try these dietitian tips to make sure you stay regular:

  • Pack high fiber staples for mornings: Breakfast is a great opportunity to add fiber, and it’s easier to do when you have options packed. Bring oat packets, mixed nuts, and chia seeds to eat in your room and boost your fiber each morning. 
  • Eat probiotic-rich foods: Probiotics help supply your gut with good bacteria to keep uncomfortable symptoms to a minimum. Find fermented foods like kefir, yogurt, and kombucha to keep in your cooler or hotel fridge. 
  • Carry water at all times: Pack an empty reusable water bottle and ask restaurants and cafes to keep you topped up. If you’re enjoying cocktails on your trip, alternate sips of alcohol and water to stay hydrated. 
  • Keep moving: Low intensity aerobic activity will be your digestion BFF. Start your travel days with a long walk or plan to see the sights on foot. 
  • Schedule bathroom time: It’s harder to go when you’re feeling rushed and stressed. Schedule bathroom time each morning after breakfast and sit on the toilet until the urge arrives. 

Read next: 7 Essentials to Stay Healthy on the Road This Summer

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