Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Bad Bellies and Travel

Before I begin, I hope that you have enjoyed your holidays, and for those that celebrate it, had an enjoyable Christmas and New Year! 

I apologise as well to my readers that I have not posted for a few weeks – I had been very busy at work, and then was travelling for Christmas, so did not have time to write.

For my first post of 2015, I am going to write about my experiences with my belly over this recent holiday.


I have found that this time around, being the first proper trip overseas since my FM diagnosis, I have struggled more with my belly on this holiday compared to on previous trips. I was travelling in Hong Kong for a week, and had a lot of trouble with reflux in particular.

I believe that there are a few possible reasons for this, as I have listed below:
  • Ingredients used in food – Due to the different cuisine and language barriers, it was often difficult for me to ascertain the exact ingredients used in the foods I was eating. Since my belly often reacted negatively after eating, it was likely that some of the ingredients were also my trigger foods.
  • Availability of specialty foods – From my experience, particularly in Asian countries, there is less acceptance or understanding of bowel conditions and food intolerance. This certainly seemed to be the case in Hong Kong, as it was difficult to find specialty foods, or restaurants that will cater to my dietary requirements.
  • Different water – In general, people with bad bellies can be more susceptible to having problems with unclean water, or even just water that their body is not used to, so this may have contributed to my symptoms.
  • General stress of travelling – Travelling can be stressful in general, as you are worrying about flights, packing, accommodation, and so on. As previously discussed in this post, stress can have a negative effect on bad bellies, so this could have also been a factor for me.

For those with IBS and/or IBD, travelling can generally be challenging. Here are a list of trips for managing symptoms while travelling (summarised from here and here):
  • Bring plenty of medication – Make sure you bring plenty of medication with you, and get more from your doctor or pharmacy before you leave for your trip if necessary.
  • Access to bathrooms – Where possible, try to be aware of the bathroom situations on transport and in the areas you are travelling ahead of time, in case an emergency arises. If you feel more comfortable, request an aisle seat on planes. It could also be a good idea to look up how to ask “Where is the bathroom?” in the local language.
  • Bring an “emergency kit” – I have not done this before, but may do so in future. This means having some supplies in your hand luggage in case things go wrong, and may include items such as a change of clothes, spare medications, copies of medical documentation, baby wipes, snacks, tissues, and so on.
  • Be careful with the water – Where possible, always boil water before drinking it, or buy only bottled drinks. Also be careful when eating uncooked vegetables and fruit. This will also help you to avoid “traveller’s diarrhoea,” which can be worse for people with IBS or IBD.
  • Bring snacks – Rather than avoiding foods and therefore not eating enough, bring your own snacks so you know that you always have something that you can eat.
  • Speak to people around you – If necessary, speak to your friends or people such as flight attendants about your condition upfront, so that if there is an emergency, they will be more understanding and better able to help you.
  • Avoid stress – Try to relax before and during the trip as much as possible, so that you keep your belly as stable as possible. Ways to do this involve carefully planning your trip in advance, including making sure you are properly covered with travel insurance, and being careful with eating on the day of travel.

Do you have any other tips for managing bad bellies while travelling? Please comment below.

No comments:

Post a Comment