Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) Health Center

Font Size

Tips for Traveling With IBS

Don't let your IBS symptoms keep you from seeing the world or visiting relatives. With planning and perseverance, you can have a wonderful vacation.

Before Your Trip continued...

Some questions to ask include:

  • Is there an early check-in for the hotel if I arrive in the morning?

  • Is there a late check-out if I need one?

  • Is there a refrigerator for my own snacks in the hotel?

  • Is there a restaurant on the premises? What is on the menu?

  • Are there grocery stores and restaurants in the area?

  • Will I be able to request special meals in the plane, hotel, or restaurant?

  • Investigate the bathroom situation. Is there a toilet on the bus? Are there designated times when airplane passengers cannot leave their seats? Will I need special coins or to buy toilet paper at certain restrooms? The answers to these questions could help better plan lavatory trips.

Some IBS patients request aisle seats rows closest to the bathroom. Others feel more comfortable driving to their destination so they can stop as many times as they want. When driving, or out and about in an unfamiliar place, it may help to know the location of the nearest bathroom.

Norton says people have checked the Internet for bathroom diaries and have mapped out the location of large chain bookstores with restrooms. Palm Pilot users have used Vindigo, a high-tech directory service.

  • Learn how to say key words if traveling to a foreign country. Besides knowing how to say 'Where's the bathroom?' it will also help to be able to ask the locals things like: 'Can you make (a dish) without ...' and 'I can't tolerate. ...' You fill in the blanks with your particular food sensitivity or intolerance. This may mean going to a local library, a university, or private companies such as Berlitz for consultation on language, says Bonci.
  • Be up front with your travel companions. The destination may not matter as much if people are honest with tour guides and travel buddies. "People have gone through bus tours of Europe, and they let (guides) know in the very beginning that if they needed to stop for a restroom, they would appreciate it," says Norton, noting that people are usually very understanding.
  • Pack essentials. Bring a carry-on bag with extra clothes, medications, fiber supplements, bottled water, and snacks. You will want all of this with you in case your luggage gets lost and when there are no good food choices in transportation terminals. For emergencies, it will help to have handy your doctor's contact information and possible sites for medical care at your destination.

During Your Trip

  • Premedicate. For a long trip, it's a good idea for IBS patients with diarrhea to take antidiarrheal medicines such as Imodium or Lomotil if they know they can tolerate it, says Crowe. Some people become too constipated with the drugs.

Crowe says IBS patients need to pay attention to their symptoms and to bring their usual medications and fiber supplements. "You want to have them in the plane or train, where you can't purchase these things," she says, noting that some destinations may also not have these drugs readily available.

Today on WebMD

what is ibs
Slideshow
lactose intolerance
Slideshow
 
Finding Right Diet IBS
Article
myth and facts about constipation
Slideshow
 
IBS Trigger Foods
Video
Supplements for IBS What Works
Article
 
IBS Symptoms Quiz
Quiz
digestive health
Slideshow
 
gluten free diet
Slideshow
digestive myths
Slideshow
 
what causes diarrhea
Video
top foods for probiotics
Slideshow
 

WebMD Special Sections