Why Can’t I Poop on Vacation?

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woman sitting on toilet with her feet on a stool

Nothing beats returning home to your toilet after not pooping for four days during a vacation. Not being able to poop on vacation is actually super common for a lot of people. Here’s why. And, some tips to help keep your poops moving so you don’t feel like you are pooping a baseball when you get back.

Why can’t I poop on vacation?

Time Changes

When we travel, normal schedules and routines go out the window, especially if you’re swapping time zones. This spontaneity and change can make trips exciting, but it can wreak havoc on our digestive system. That comfortable and familiar morning poop may fall (or not) in the middle of the day or at 3 AM in your new destination.

Dietary Changes

Our eating and drinking habits often look very different when taking a load off. Now we are not going to recommend that you swap out a vacation piña colada for your typical Tuesday salad. But we do want you to know that different intakes can cause different outcomes.

Dehydration:

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

What to do to avoid not pooping on vacation:

Hydrate

Dehydration is one of the biggest reasons for vacation constipation. Dehydration is especially a factor when flying. While the thought of an airplane bathroom might initiate your gag reflex, staying hydrated is essential. To keep regular while traveling, drink plenty of water. If water isn’t your preferred beverage, try sipping tea, coffee, or warm water with each meal and snack. This is especially important if you are switching time zones or on a long flight.

Eat Prunes

Prunes, prunes, the magical fruit! Did you know that prunes have a natural stool-softening and laxative effect? They travel well and offer constipation relief! Do your future self a favor and pack a few at the ready.

Take Probiotics

Probiotics also help aid digestion and keep your gut healthy. If you need to take a probiotic, consider starting before you embark on your next adventure. I consume these daily, and I even travel with them.

Poop properly

You all know I am a Squatty Potty evangelist. Unfortunately, you may not have access to your everyday Squatty Potty. Here are a few alternative options to consider:

  • First, Squatty Potty makes a lightweight travel stool that folds up! If you can’t add one to your luggage, no worries, keep reading.
  • Try placing a bathroom trash can on its side 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, it’s important to learn more about proper pooping techniques. Make sure to avoid straining or holding your breath. Instead, exhale like you are blowing out birthday candles.

What to pack so you can poop on vacation

If you’re worried you might get backed up on your next adventure, keep this list handy for things to pack!

  • A refillable water bottle
  • A portable squatty potty
  • Prunes
  • Probiotics
  • Your workout clothes (exercise helps fight constipation!)
  • Stool softener or magnesium
  • Your snacks, such as bananas

What to eat to help avoid constipation

A high-fiber diet full of fruits and veggies will help you avoid constipation. Fiber can also help make bowel movements easier to pass. Did you know you can pack healthy snacks and take them through TSA when traveling?  Fiber rich foods to consider bringing are whole grains and snacks like bananas. Also, avoid fatty, processed foods such as fast food and red meats.

How to poop on vacation if you are constipated

  • Exercise and walk – Stay active, or even do some simple stretches and exercises to get your bowels moving.
  • Colon massage – An abdominal massage clockwise around your belly can help get things moving. Spend some time on the lower left side, where the bowel movement can get backed up.
  • A stool softener or magnesium – Stimulant laxatives should only be used when necessary, instead, try Magnesium. Magnesium is magic pixie dust. It helps with constipation by keeping your poops soft. Also great to help with sleep and anxiety. Safe for pregnancy and breastfeeding, but of course, check with your doctor. My fave brand is Natural Calm. They have a powder mix or convenient gummies for travel or on the go. Available at Whole Foods or on Amazon Prime.
  • Consume prunes and probiotics – Two reasons for constipation are not enough fluids, and not enough fiber. I pack my prunes in a zip lock bag, start each day with a cup of warm water and add in a daily probiotic.
  • Stay hydrated – Drinking lots of water or try warm water in the morning.

What to do while in the air

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

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

When on the airplane, choose an aisle seat. I recommend standing and walking around once an hour during flights, so an aisle seat makes this much easier. Also, you may have to frequent the bathroom to tinkle a time or two. Don’t delay the urge to go. When the urge to poop arrives, get to the bathroom. If you wait for the urge, that poop will hang out in your body longer, making it harder to empty later. So get to it!

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

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