Traveling Fearlessly With or Without IBS

I love to travel. I always have. Though it was stressful for me, I did it anyway. For me the thrill of a new adventure, seeing a new place, and being out of my comfort zone intrigued me so much that it far outweighed my fear.


But it wasn’t easy.


I did learn ways to adapt. I was always pretty good with taking flights, that didn’t seem to bother me. It was hours after the flight and eating travel food that I noticed tightness and pain in my stomach. I would check the hotels I was staying at to make sure they had the right types of food for me. I would also pack Benefiber, Fiber One bars, Pepcid Complete and Pepto-Bismol. Still after all this preparation, especially on those long trips to Europe, I’d find myself in the same predicament. After seven days or more in Europe between the time and diet change, I’d find myself with a belly full of a week’s worth of food or find myself in the bathroom the night before I was scheduled to get on a plane to go home.


That was not fun.


So I learned that there were other things I needed to do to prepare myself for a more enjoyable vacation. It started with working on how I felt before going on the trip. I began to notice I would have increased levels of nervousness days before the trip. This would usually disrupt my sleep, which would then make me feel more stressed. My fear of the unknown of traveling would create future tension that had no basis in reality. It was like I was preparing myself for what could go wrong.


So I started a new way of relaxation before going away. I no longer packed the night before and made sure any of those little details like stopping the mail or newspapers were done ahead of time. I booked flights at times I knew would work better for me and got very specific with where I would stay that would make me feel comfortable.


I also did some physical relaxation. I would make sure that I wasn’t skipping my breathing exercises. I purposely took additional breaks (a break can consist of as little as one minute) and didn’t allow myself to work up late on these before traveling.


I also made sure I was eating well and that I was hydrated before the trip began, so my body was ready to face any challenges of a new environment.


I started having pretty successful trips following this method. Then I had an injury that affected my ability to carry the load of bags and luggage that traveling requires. Faced with that reality I thought my traveling days were over. That feeling of not being able to do something you love to do is unbearable. I was bummed about it for a while but then I realized there’s always a solution.


On my most recent trip I realized I don’t have to carry around a lot of luggage, I can have it shipped to my destination. It helped me to pack lighter, organize myself better and have a less stressful trip. And it costs the same as it would if I just checked a bag.


It’s that simple. Also, like everything else it’s just temporary, I’ll be  able to carry heavy loads again in the future.


My advice to you if you have the travel bug and are afraid because you don’t know what’s going to happen next with your IBS or Crohn’s, is to create a plan that works for your individual needs and gives you back control of your life.


Then let go and do it.

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