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Do You Get Constipated
When Driving or Flying?

abnormal stool vs healthy bowel movement

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How to Avoid Getting Constipated When Traveling


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This is part of a series of articles on chronic constipation. We are not addressing medical conditions effecting the colon but are talking about slow bowel movements in the otherwise healthy individual. If you feel you have a colon health issue beyond simple constipation, please see your doctor. In this part of the series, we are talking about some of the more common constipation triggers, including stress, diet and work or travel challenges.

Traveling and Colon Health
One of the main triggers for me, personally, is travel whether a long car trip or by plane. I've learned over time that I have to take specific steps to keep from having a real problem with elimination when I travel. Hopefully, these tips may help you as well.

Preventing travel-related constipation:
Have you notice that you may not eliminate as well or as often on a plane or in a strange bathroom? Most of us just aren't as comfortable going to the bathroom in an unfamiliar place and it creates a sort of unconscious stress for many. Some simply can't go and end up waiting til they get back home. That's not great if it's going to be 8 hours before you get home, or to your hotel room.

There are definitely things you can do, whether traveling by plane or car, to avoid colon congestion. When driving long distances, I've learned to respect my body by stopping at every rest area in route. I don't just stop but get out of the car and walk around for at least 5 or 10 minutes. I do not pass up a rest stop. In the south, there's one at least every hundred miles. Just that very brief stop helps me stay regular and also refreshes me for the next leg of the drive.

While I'm stopped at that rest area, I also stretch and twist from side to side, swing my arms, roll my shoulders and neck and shake out the tension in my legs. While driving, I practice arching the lower part of my back against the seat periodically and then stretching the other way, to stretch out the colon area.

If flying, I also take steps regardless of how annoying it sometimes is for others. I get up and walk the length of the plane several times in a long flight. I go to the little bathroom in the back and do stretches by turning my body at the waist while standing and pressing my outstretched hands into the very close walls on either side. I'll sit on the commode and lean over, stretching my back, then sit up and turn side to side several times. Many folks travel because of their work and that kinda lumps in work-related constipation with travel-related for those folks but someone in a sedentary office job is just as apt to have a problem as the jet-setter.

Eliminatory Health Disclaimer: While travel, stress, diet and work situations can contribute to eliminatory health issues like being chronically constipated, there are also more serious possibilities when you are not having normal bowel movement for any extended period of time. You should rule out diverticulitis, IBS, Krohn's and colon cancer, if the lifestyle changes above do not take care of the problem or if you experience more severe symptoms than would suggest simple constipation.