Always Get Bloated or Constipated When You Travel? Here's Why

It always seems to happen once you’ve booked an amazing vacation, can’t wait to explore your destination, eat all the most delicious local foods, and see all there is to see. But then your stomach starts to feels off. Maybe you feel full even though it’s been hours since you’ve eaten. Maybe you feel bloated, nauseated or, even constipated since you’re not in your own environment. You never feel this way at home. Was it something you ate, or some other factor?

Dr. Michelle Cohen, a gastroenterologist at Mount Sinai New York, says you’re not alone with your stomach issues while traveling. Patients come to her often with questions about travel-related woes.

“In general, I think the most common things that people get are upset stomach, bloated and constipation,” she says. Diarrhea can also occur — you may have heard of traveler’s diarrhea — but it’s usually related to an infection rather than general traveling.

Why does this happen?

There are a few reasons so many of us face stomach problems when we’re on the go, and mostly it has to do with changing what our bodies are accustomed to. “Our bodies are used to a certain type of rhythm and schedule,” Cohen explains. When we travel, we’re eating at different times, sleeping at different times, essentially asking our body to get on a whole new routine.

“That in and of itself can just change the whole dynamic of the GI tract,” she says. Travel, especially by airplane, can also lead people to get dehydrated (I mean, who hasn’t sipped water sparingly so they don’t have to climb over their seat mate ask to get up for the lavatory?), which can lead to constipation.

More: What to Do If You Get Sick While Traveling

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