Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Heartburn/GERD Health Center

Font Size

Travel Heartburn: 7 Tips for Relief

Helpful hints for enjoying your vacation -- without heartburn.
By
WebMD Feature
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

For people with heartburn, vacations have many perils: unusual foods, irregular meal times, and our very human urge to overindulge.

"When people are on vacation, they eat a lot, they drink a lot, and they don't sleep much," says David Carr-Locke, MD, director of endoscopy at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston. "Unfortunately, for people with GERD, that can bring on symptoms."

Recommended Related to Heartburn/GERD

Top 10 Heartburn Foods

You know it all too well. Heartburn. That fiery sensation that grabs hold of your lower chest after you eat something you know you shouldn't have. What often follows is that sour or bitter taste of acid reflux in your throat and mouth that can last minutes (if you are lucky) or hours (if you are not). Yes, millions of us are familiar with the discomfort of heartburn, a condition in which stomach acids back up into the esophagus. The good news is that heartburn is largely avoidable if you steer...

Read the Top 10 Heartburn Foods article > >

But everyone deserves to cut loose -- at least a little -- when on vacation. So here are some tips on how to have fun and keep your heartburn symptoms at bay.

  • Eat sensibly. "I know it sounds like no fun," says Lawrence J. Cheskin, MD, co-author of Healing Heartburn, and associate professor at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. "But you should still try to eat carefully when you're on vacation, just like you would at home."
  • This doesn't mean you have to eat crackers and white rice while everyone else savors the local cuisine. Just don't gorge on heartburn triggers, such as high-fat foods, says Carr-Locke.
  • Drink moderately. Alcohol is a common trigger for many people with GERD. So don't overindulge -- especially in drinks mixed with citrus juices, another drink that can bring on GERD symptoms.
  • Don't go a long time between meals. In general, people with heartburn should try to eat frequent, small meals. So don't get so hungry you wind up gorging yourself; that's likely to cause heartburn. Try to build in regular snacks throughout your day.
  • Wear loose clothing. Sure, you want to look good on vacation -- but don't force yourself into a favorite bathing suit or outfit if it's too tight. The pressure of restrictive clothing can bring on heartburn symptoms. Instead, dress in something that is loose-fitting and comfortable.
  • Get enough sleep -- but don't spend the whole vacation lying down. While staying up late and not getting enough sleep can bring on heartburn symptoms, so can sleeping too much, says Carr-Locke. When you lie down, acid can more easily back into your esophagus. To get around this problem, try propping up your hotel bed or sleeping on a pile of pillows, says J. Patrick Waring, MD, a gastroenterologist at Piedmont Hospital in Atlanta.
  • Pack your medication. It should be obvious, but before you leave the house, double-check you have the medicine you need, says Cheskin. If possible, pack extra just in case.
  • Plan ahead. If you just know that you're going to wind up eating and drinking a bit more than you should, take precautions.

    "It would be better not to overdo it," says Cheskin, "but if you know you're going to have a big meal anyway, it's better to take your medications before you go out instead of waiting until after you have heartburn." Ask your doctor if doubling up on your medicine might make sense.

While taking precautions against heartburn may seem like a drag, remember that your vacation will be more fun because of them.

Reviewed on July 05, 2006

Today on WebMD

Heartburn illustration
Slideshow
Heartburn Control Assess Your Symptoms
Assessment
 
heartburn foods
Slideshow
Nighttime Heartburn
Article
 
digestive health
Slideshow
Heartburn or Heart Attack
Article
 
heartburn
Article
Top 10 Heartburn Foods
Video
 
Is it Heartburn or Gerd
Video
digestive myths
Slideshow
 
Extreme Eats
Slideshow
graphic of esophageal area
Article