Why Do We Get Traveller’s Constipation & What To Do About It

Do you get constipated when you travel? Dr Manjari Rao shares tips that can help remedy that situation with 5 simple steps.

When we pack our bags and get ready to travel, we do not realise that we are also taking our trillions of gut bacteria with us as our travel companions! In essence, actually, it is these gut bacteria that are in complete control of how much we poop, or how little!!

Gut bacterial activity is determined by time, place position –

This means that the stimulation of the activity is time-controlled, bathroom controlled and movement-controlled. Move more and you have better intestinal motility too, move less and the stagnation can cause you to lose the ‘urge’.

Think of travel and destinations.  You take a long flight/train, most of the time, the bathroom leaves you disgusted so you tell your brain that it’s ok, you will poop tomorrow. But by the time tomorrow comes, the bacteria have sacrificed themselves and the water and food from the flight or the hotel have changed the bacterial landscape further. The new  ‘Turkish kunafeh’ you just relished will stay on longer in your gut than your dal chawal and so you have to ‘hold on’ for one more day!!! And this way you end up clocking 3-4 days of ‘no-show’!  


Holidays mean the stress of packing, unpacking, ordering food that is palatable to all and making sure all are ok. Stress changes the gut activity as it is controlled by an entity called the “Enteric Nervous System” which recognises the stress and goes into an internal fight or flight. This is why some people may have diarrhoea before travel and others just clam up. The gut is your second brain and it always works in the way your first brain tells it to unconsciously. So if you wish the gut to function well, it has to have an equal say in brain matters and that is achievable. 

Ways To Tackle Traveller’s Constipation

1. Drink hot water at bedtime. It’s better to drink steeped carom seed tea infusion for a greater laxative effect. If you are holidaying in the Mediterranean, then add a  few drops of olive oil to that water. 

2. Start your day with warm food. It should be more than a warm toasted bread but perhaps a warm bowl of porridge. Add chopped nuts to this. 

3. Through the day snack on dry fruits such as dates, prunes and raisins ( not fresh fruit mind you) and the fibre in the dry fruits will stimulate mucus production in the gut lining, thereby activating the bowels for the next morning. 

4. Every day sit for a few minutes in the ‘malasana’ position especially when you travel. It does 2 things- Takes away your bloating and stimulates the enteric nervous system to push the decal contents downwards. You will surely “go”!!! 

5. Walk for 10-20 mins post-dinner every day. It is the best way to ensure you are never constipated. 

Armed with these tips we’re sure you’re going to be feeling a lot better the next time you travel. Talk to us in the comments below if you have questions that you want to be answered. 


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