That headline really grabbed you, huh?
I mean, who hasn’t gotten constipated on vacation at least once?
Don’t worry. No one knows what you’re reading. You can raise your hand.
And you’re not alone. Lots of people get constipated on vacation because traveling sends most people into what we in the Ayurveda community call “vata overload.”
Vata overload simply means that vata dosha, which governs the elements of air and space that exist in the world and also in your body, gets sent into overdrive so you have more of it than usual.
This happens because when you travel, things feel unsettled and different than usual. Whether you’re going somewhere new and unfamiliar, or you’re going back to a place you know and love, travel takes a toll on your body.
When you travel, a few key things happen:
*You’re on the go all of the time. Probably even more so than when you’re not on vacation. Often there’s an agenda to do and see #allthethings you can. When you’re constantly on the go, your body will feel unsettled and ungrounded, leading to excess air and space (movement and speed) in your body.
*You’re not doing most of your regular routines. In fact, you’re probably avoiding many of your regular routines. The lack of consistency and familiarity can make your body feel unstable and out of whack.
*You’re not eating as well as you usually do. You’re probably eating out more, snacking more, drinking less water, drinking more alcohol, eating more junky or processed food, and eating at weird times during the day. This makes your digestive system freak out a little (or a lot).
*The act of traveling itself is uprooting. Whether you’re flying or driving, your body isn’t in physical contact with the earth. The elements of air and space are in control.
All of these things will lead to more vata than usual in your body. Your body will often respond by drying out and trying to hold onto whatever it can to protect that feeling of comfort, familiarity, and security. More often than not, this means your poop.
Since canceling your vacation isn’t a good option, here are a few ways you can decrease vata and increase the other 2 doshas (pitta and kapha), which will help bring a little more consistency and grounding back to your body so you can enjoy your vacation instead of feeling gross, bloated, and blocked up.
How to Not Get Constipated on Vacation:
*Maintain a few simple routines. Instead of throwing out ALL of your home routines, keep a few. These are your “anchor routines” or “anchor habits.” Basically, these habits or routines are ones you do every single day, no matter what. You also want to make sure that you do them at the same times of day, so keep you morning routines in the morning. Don’t randomly add your morning routines to midday. Your body will think that’s weird, too.
*Eat consistently. Instead of eating at totally off times, make a plan for regular mealtimes. Your digestive system will appreciate the regularity.
Also, try not to eat in the car. Eating on the plane might be unavoidable, but if you are driving, stop to take food breaks. Eating on the go does nothing good for anyone’s digestion, traveling or otherwise.
*Eat foods that help poop happen. I know you want to eat all of the “fun” foods on vacation. You know what’s super fun? Enjoying your vacation because you’re pooping like a champ every day. So stock up on fresh fruits, veggies, and nuts for snacks, which as it turns out, are delicious and easy for your body to digest. Avoid mega doses of dairy, which is harder to digest and can lead to constipation. Yes, you can still have that ice cream cone. Just not for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Be nice to your gut, friends.
*Move your body every day. Find ways to move your body, no matter where you are. Moving your body also helps get things moving in your digestive system.
When you stop to take meal breaks, move first. When you’re waiting for your plane at the airport, do some seated yoga. Or some jumping jacks. Or squats. Or take a walk through the terminal, if you have time.
Add movement to your vacation. Hike, bike, rent a canoe, go to a yoga class, go on a walking the city, or even bring your bathing suits so you can swim each night at the hotel.
Need more ideas? Check out my previous vacation-themed post How to Prioritize Movement on Your Vacation and get 2 FREE Classes you can do in your hotel room.
*Drink lots of water. This one should be obvious, but it’s not always easy on vacation. Make it easier by having your own refillable water bottle (and for the kids, too!)
*When in doubt, squat. No seriously, squat. Because squatting will relax your puborectalis muscle, which is what you want to happen for easier poops. If that muscle is tight or kinked then pooping is uncomfortable or just won’t happen. So get your squat on to encourage a downward flow of movement and relaxation for the right muscles. And no, you don’t have to squat balancing on a toilet seat. Hanging out in a squat in the middle of your hotel room for a minute at a time will do just fine.
Ok, so now you are all set for a super fantastic vacation with smooth sailing (and pooping) ahead. Have a blast!