Last week, Brad and I went on a 5-day road trip through Nevada, Arizona, and Utah. Most of the trip was spent walking around in national parks taking in the amazing scenery. Spending time outside is so good for the soul. I think my newest bucket list item is visiting all 59 national parks. 10 down, 49 to go…
As much as I love to travel, being out of my normal daily routine can throw off my digestive tract. Although my symptoms are more mild these days, stress and lack of sleep are the two things that seem to set my symptoms off the most. Traveling tends to be a little stressful and I have a hard time sleeping when I don’t have my own pillow or if there isn’t any white noise (anyone else require the noise from a fan to sleep?!) To make travel as enjoyable as possible, there are several things I do before and while traveling to make sure I am prepared for any symptoms and to prioritize self-care.
1. Pack travel snacks: Whether you are traveling by car or by plane, the choices at gas stations and in airports are not only more expensive but can also be limited. If traveling by plane, I always pack Macrobars and Enjoy Life Cocoa Loco bars because they are easy to store in my purse. If traveling by car, I usually pack the bars mentioned above, Nut Thins crackers, Orgain, and applesauce cups. It may also be a good idea to keep ginger candies in your purse in case you feel motion sick.
2. Drink water: Travel can be dehydrating so make sure you are drinking throughout the day! Buying a bottle of water at a hotel or restaurant can be expensive (sometimes $3 or more for a 16 oz. bottle!). Instead, bring your own bottle and fill it up or go to a store and buy water bottles in bulk.
3. Choose a hotel that offers free breakfast: One great thing about breakfast foods is that so many of them are gastroparesis-friendly! Hotels like the Holiday Inn Express and the Hampton Inn have continental breakfast with options like pancakes, toast, yogurt, bananas, and peanut butter (you can always contact the hotel you are staying at prior to arrival to find out exactly what foods they have). If these options work for you, it is a great way to save money and not have to worry about making plans for another meal. After you eat, you can also take shelf-stable options like a banana and peanut butter with you for a snack.
4. Ask for a hotel room with a refrigerator and microwave: Although you may not be on the same schedule as you would at home, trying to eat your “normal” food at normal times will help keep symptoms in check. Since we had a refrigerator at almost every hotel on our trip, we packed food for lunches and some dinners. I packed bananas, applesauce, string cheese, peanut butter packets, Macrobars, and Orgain for myself. This also helped cut down on meal expenses and reduced the stress of wondering what menu options were safe. Buy whatever works best for you!
5. Bring exercise clothes: While you may not want to spend time in a hotel gym, you can get active by exploring your location on foot! Take a walk and see the sights. Walking is a great way to get your digestive tract moving after you eat. If you are interested in yoga or other classes, sometimes you can get free passes from your hotel. When I was on my honeymoon a few years ago, I received free passes to the hotel’s outdoor yoga class and I really enjoyed it.
6. Look at menus online: If possible, check out the meal options before you get to a restaurant. You can pick a gastroparesis-friendly choice before you get there instead of making a quick decision on the spot. Depending on the size of the town or city I am in, I try to look for smaller, non-chain restaurants. Many of the more health-centric cafes serve soups, juices, and smoothies. Chain restaurants may be better in some cases because their nutrition information is usually posted on their website so you know exactly what you are going to get.
7. Bring your emergency kit: I have mentioned emergency kits in a few posts now, but it’s important since symptoms can pop up at any moment. Towards the end of a vacation I took last year, I dealt with some digestive issues but didn’t have the proper over-the-counter medication to help ease my symptoms. I was desperate and purchased some from the hotel gift shop. I spent $11 for 6 pills! The moral of the story is always over-pack! Make a list of what you need and check it twice. Any remedies you need will cost much less at a drugstore than at a hotel where they can mark up the price.
With a little bit of planning and preparation, vacations with gastroparesis can be fun and enjoyable (as they should be)! Happy traveling!
Questions of the day:
What are your gastroparesis-friendly travel tips? Do you have any trips planned in 2018?