Picture this – you’ve saved and planned all year for your tropical trip and it’s VAYCAY TIME BABY! You get on that plane and immediately start daydreaming about all the fun things you have planned. But instead of sipping on something delicious besides the pool, you’re stuck inside for the third day in a row. What started out as constipation converted into full-blown runs. You let out a sigh of relief because you’re sure it’s finally done; your exhale of relief turns into a rather audible burp that almost leaves you talking to the toilet. Great. Indigestion. While you might be casting your eyes and silently screaming – this is actually rather common. Best news of all – there is something (a few things) you can do to lessen the effects (or prevent this altogether). Research is revealing just how powerful our guts are. And with Vaycay season upon us, I thought this was the perfect time to share my tips and go-to habits for gut-healthy travel.
There are various reasons why you might have an unhappy tummy and bubble gut while traveling including a change in routine/schedule, new environments, dehydration, and the stress of it all (yes even the welcomed “eustress” that is good for us!) Experts suspect it’s the air pressure in the plane that causes indigestion and discomfort. While that can’t really be avoided, there are a few things to omit and add to your travel routine so you don’t miss a second of your well-deserved vacation.
It is well studied and documented just how much stress wrecks us. And while traveling can be stressful, using tools like meditation and deep breathing can help remind us that is the time to surrender to the moment and opportunity for spontaneity. A simple change in mindset to shift into holiday mode is to remember that anxiety and excitement land in the body exactly the same. It certainly is possible that you’re extra excited about this trip, and yet the body is processing this as anxious stress – leading you to those grumbly guts. I often download and listen to binaural beats whilst on the plane to help me drown out all the stressful noise.
At the Gut Health Agency, we deeply believe in the value of feeding our gut AND our soul. This means there is a time and place for all food. And, ultra-processed foods have been shown to create inflammation in the gut and wreak havoc on our overall health – on any day of the week. We definitely tend to eat more of these packaged and convenient foods when on holiday. I’m not here to be a party pooper, food is meant to be enjoyed AND we love an easy button. Do your best to incorporate a variety of fiber, protein, and colorful vegetables into your routine on top of all the decadent treats of a holiday, rather than relying exclusively on junk food if you don’t want to feel like… well – junk.
Again – I am not here to tell you not to savor all the delicious new foods. But remembering that overeating could lead you to feel bloated, sweaty, heavy, and disturb your sleep… might remind you that 2 slices taste just as good as 6. Choosing to mindfully notice the taste and textures of your food as you eat slowly – instead of immediately going for the next bite – is a nice way to stay present and mindful with your food. Honoring your unique inner hunger and fullness scale is an intimate skill that we teach at the Gut Health Agency.
Let your body know where in the world you are through grounding. Gut-healthy travel should take a holistic approach as it does in our life. This one seems to be more on the woo-woo side, but after testing it myself I now swear by this to help for any pesky jet lag as well as daily anxiety. The process is simple: get your skin in contact with the earth. Go outside and hug a tree OR use hit the easy button – use the most grounding body part you have – your feet. Once you get off that airplane or out of the car, as soon as you are able to, remove those shoes and socks and get those feet into the earth and ground yourself in that place and space. Bonus points for touching plants and spending some time in nature. Once you become aware of this it may shock you to see how little time we spend outdoors without shoes. And when we do it’s usually not in nature but on cold tile or concrete floors. This process will help your body acclimatize to this new place-in-space before you even take your first bite of foreign cuisine. Grounding will also aid in your sleep and- let me tell you – your gut microbiome loves sleep just as much as you do.
I once asked an air hostess what her secret was to feel good and functioning at peak performance while always traveling. She said it’s common practice among air hostesses to pre-load on water. And I’m not talking a glass or two, this air hostess in particular was drinking 1 – 2 liters before her long flights (12+ hours). She reminded me just how dehydrated we get on planes. Plus you have to ask for more tiny water bottles on the plane (hello BPA). To be safe, pre-load on water before your flight. Bonus hydration points: add Trace Minerals (linked for 10% off) or other hydrating elements like Organifi’s collagen support hydration beverage called Glow.
I know our “I’m not a big water drinker”s out there are saying – “NO WAY will I drink that much water! I will never stop getting up to pee on a plane!” This ties into my next tip – movement. Maybe the fact that it causes you to stand up is a GOOD THING? Have you heard the saying that sitting is the new smoking? Whether or not you prescribe to this thought, we cannot deny that movement is something your body not only loves but craves. And sitting for hours and hours isn’t good for your internal system or external body. While the thought of a window seat is romantic, an isle seat is real love. Being able to get up and stretch your legs, and go to the bathroom whenever you need to is ideal. And – if you’re like me – you’ll have no problem doing some plane yoga at the back while everyone sleeps.
Adding joyful movement before and after your flight will also help your GI tract keep moving in the direction that we desire – down and out. Opting for a solid workout or aiming for 10K steps (arrive early and go checkout those other terminals!) before you fly will help you feel a little more settled while you fly. It’ll also set up your body to be able to rest for a little while on the plane. Flight aftercare is also imperative, having even a 10-minute post-flight stretch and movement routine will help. If you feel embarrassed doing this at the airport you can wait until you get to the privacy of where you’re staying.
Pack snacks for the plane for a healthy go-to and to snack on while you travel. Plane food is well known for being low quality and highly processed. I am one of those weird people who actually quite like the novelty of plane food, but even so, I make sure to give the rolls, chips, and pudding a skip and opt for one of the packed snacks that I know agree with my body.
I also make sure to pack some essentials that are lightweight that I can keep as snacks while I’m on vacation. Pack a snack and water every morning of your trip and you’ll keep hangry you at bay all vaycay long. (Which I’m sure your bae will be happy about!)
Sleep is one of the most important pillars of good health. If you desire to soak up every precious moment of your trip then this is not the time to be messing with your sleep! Using grounding and movement will help you get into the time zone you’re in.
Our gut loves nothing more than the comfort and safety of a routine that it can count on. Carving out time to simply sit on the toilet at the same time you typically to whilst at home can help your gut feel safe enough again to have a satisfying bowel movement. It may take a day or two to get used to it – but with consistency and patience – your gut will not fail you!
Your gut loves many things, but two of its favorites are plants and variety. Take advantage of the new place you’re in and enjoy the variety of foreign cuisine. We often may go to what we know on trips – the familiar – but exposing your gut to some new plants, flavors, and bacteria will be a little vacation for the gut as well!
Of all of these, it’s important to remember that you want to enjoy yourself. Robbing yourself of the joy and potential in a day full of once-in-a-lifetime opportunities by overthinking about what you’re eating will cause you more stress and gut issues than by simply leaning into the pleasure of it all. Worse yet, you’ll return from your trip wondering where the time went and why you feel more tired and worn out than when you left.
Remember: gut health is about consuming ALL of life’s pleasures and nourishing our souls along the way!
I do hope you found these valuable. Have an amazing trip and bon voyage!
Chelsea interviews professionals to bring YOU today’s most updated knowledge on nutrition and wellness.