November 14, 2019

Why Can’t I Poop When Traveling? Ways to Fight Vacation Constipation

Constipation when traveling is kind of the worst and can happen due to a change in schedule, poor eating habits, or dehydration.

Woman at airport with suitcase

Nothing beats returning home to your own toilet after not pooping for four days during a vacay, AM I RIGHT?!? Constipation when traveling is kind of the worst. There are a few common causes we can link to this uncomfortable phenomenon that we can explore to better understand why we just can’t seem to go while on the go. Additionally we have some tips to help keep your poops moving along so you don’t feel like you are pooping a baseball when you get back. 

Why Can’t I Poop on Vacation?

When we travel, normal schedules and routines tend to go out the window. This spontaneity and change can make trips exciting, but it can wreak havoc on our plumbing, so to speak. Depending on your travel plans, that comfortable and familiar morning poop may end up falling (or not) in the middle of the day or at 3 AM in your new destination. Recognizing how changes to your schedule and normal activities affect your bowel movements can help bring peace of mind. 

Following changes in schedules, our eating habits often look very different when we are taking a load off. Don’t worry – we are not going to recommend that you swap out a vacation piña colada for your typical Tuesday salad. It is just important to recognize that different intakes can cause different outcomes. 

Another culprit of action constipation is dehydration. Regardless of whether the lack of water intake is intentional or not, this can be a key factor in stopping the number two train. 

Thankfully there are a few easy tricks you can try to feel some relief on your next get away.

Hydrate

As we said, dehydration is actually one of the biggest reasons for constipation. Dehydration is especially a definite factor when flying. While the thought of an airplane bathroom might initiate your gag reflex, it is so important to stay hydrated. To keep regular while traveling, drink LOTS of water. If water isn’t your preferred beverage try sipping on tea, coffee, or warm water with each meal and/or snack. 

Prunes and Probiotics

Prunes, prunes, the magical fruit! Did you know that prunes have a natural stool softening and laxative effect? They also travel well! Do your future self a favor and pack a few to have at the ready. Probiotics also help aid digestion and keep your gut healthy. If you are not already taking a probiotic, consider starting before you set off on your next adventure. I take these daily! 

Proper Pooping Position

Y’all know I am a Squatty Potty evangelist. When traveling you may not have access to your everyday Squatty Potty, so here are a few alternative options to consider:

  • First, Squatty Potty actually makes a travel stool that is lightweight and folds up! If you can’t add one to your luggage no worries, keep reading.
  • Try placing a bathroom trash can sideways to elevate your feet into the squatting position.
  • You can also use your suitcase!

This squatting position helps relax your pelvic floor muscles to empty the tank. If you are new here check out this article to learn more about proper pooping technique.

Exercise

Road trips and air travel are synonymous with long bouts of sitting. It can be a challenge, but be proactive and walk or stretch as much as you can. Movement is key both while in transit and at your destination to keep poop moving through your colon. Exercise also helps to bring blood flow to help your pelvic floor muscles stay relaxed. Here are a few travel friendly exercises to consider:

  • Walking
  • Jogging
  • Lunges
  • Deep squat holds
  • Dancing

We hope these tips ease your mind and body so you can enjoy your next vacation!

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Interested in more tips on how to prevent or overcome Pelvic Floor Problems?
Download this free guide for some simple, do-able, totally-not-weird tips to take better care of your down there.
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Sara Reardon PT, DPT, WCS is the owner of NOLA Pelvic Health and founder of The Vagina Whisperer, a resource for online pelvic health education and therapy to help women worldwide with pelvic health conditions. She is a board certified women’s health physical therapist with a special interest in treating pelvic pain and pregnancy and postpartum conditions. She is a mom, wife, Saints fan and wanna be yogi.

 

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