Natural Constipation Relief: 7 Smart Tricks for Travelers

Changes in mealtime, unfamiliar toilets: Here's how to plan for a more comfortable getaway.

View as Slideshow


Almost 40 percent of people get constipated when they travel.

Almost 40 percent of people get constipated when they travel.iStock/Thinkstock
According to Connecticut-based gastroenterologist Ed Levine, MD, one big reason has to do with changes in your routine. Different meal times, a shifted sleeping schedule, or jet lag can throw off your body’s circadian rhythm and affect your digestive process. Another factor is what Dr. Oz famously called “safe toilet syndrome”—not being able to relax enough to use an unfamiliar bathroom. Depending the severity of symptoms and the length of your trip, travel constipation can simply be annoying or extremely uncomfortable. Use these natural constipation relief tips to get back on track.

Walk when you wake up.

Walk when you wake up.iStock/Thinkstock
Exercise increases the motility of the GI tract, says Dr. Levine. (That’s why hospital bed rest causes constipation—you’re much less mobile than usual.) Take a morning stroll to sneak in at least a little activity while you’re away, especially if you’re at a beach or lake where there’s not a lot of sightseeing in your itinerary.

Don’t sit for long stretches.

Don’t sit for long stretches.Photodisc/Thinkstock
It’s tempting to not stop during a six-hour car ride so you can get where you’re going sooner. But long periods with no movement can put stress on your bowels. Dr. Levine recommends frequent pit stops to stretch your legs, drink water, and give yourself time to use the bathroom if you need it.

Content continues below ad

Eat berries with breakfast.

Eat berries with breakfast.iStock/Thinkstock
Fiber helps fight constipation by bulking up stool, making it easier to move through your GI tract. If you're facing decadent vacation meals, it’s easy to forget to include it. But this sudden drop can clog you up, especially if you're used to eating oatmeal for breakfast and salads at lunch. Commit to eating produce at every meal, plus a snack or two of fresh fruit, to keep your fiber intake adequate.

Find a routine.

Find a routine.iStock/Thinkstock
If you normally eat breakfast at 7:30 a.m., but don’t eat on vacation until 10:30 a.m, it can contribute to constipation. “Your stomach distends after meals, which sends a response to the colon to get rid of old stool,” says Dr. Levine. So a drastic change in your eating routine can throw off your usual bowel movement schedule. Going to bed and waking up as close to the times you do at home as you can will also help maintain your circadian rhythm, which helps regulate the hormones that play a role in digestion.

Drink up.

Drink up.Stockbyte/Thinkstock
Being dehydrated is a risk factor for constipation, so be sure to take in more water intake than usual, especially if you’re traveling somewhere hotter or drier than the conditions at home. Water also helps fiber to be more effective in normalizing your bowel movements, according to the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse.

Content continues below ad

Schedule bathroom breaks.

Schedule bathroom breaks.iStock/Thinkstock
Ignoring the urge to go—say, because you’re waiting in line or you feel weird using a strange toilet—can sometimes lead to constipation, according to WebMD. If you know when you usually need a bathroom break, try to plan ahead to be near a place where you feel more comfortable making a pit stop.

Bring natural laxatives.

Bring natural laxatives.Pixland/Thinkstock
If you know you’re prone to travel constipation, you can try to prevent it by taking a stool softener or a laxative for a few days before you leave and while you’re away, WebMD recommends. Dr. Levine recently created a supplement, Good to Go, which contains a mix of natural laxatives meant to prevent traveler’s constipation that can be taken the morning of your trip and for the first few days.

Want to stay smart and healthy?

Get our weekly Health Reads newsletter

how we use your e-mail
We will use your email address to send you the newsletter each week, and we may also send you occasional special offers from Reader's Digest. For more information please read our privacy policy.

Some people like to travel by train because 
it combines the slowness of a car with the cramped public exposure of 
an airplane.

Dennis Miller

I think my pilot was a little inexperienced. We were sitting on the runway, and he said, “OK, folks, we’re gonna be taking off in a just few—whoa! Here we go.”

Kevin Nealon

“I can’t wait until your vacation is over.” 
—Everyone following you on Instagram


A man knocked on my door and asked for a donation toward the local swimming pool. So I gave him a glass of water.

Comedian Greg Davies

Funny Jokes

Just found the worst page in the entire dictionary. What I saw was disgraceful, disgusting, dishonest, and disingenuous.


Funny Jokes

Client: We need you to log in to the YouTube and make all our company videos viral.


Funny Jokes

My cat just walked up to the paper shredder and said, “Teach me 
everything you know.”


Funny Jokes

“Just because you can’t dance doesn’t mean you shouldn’t dance.” 

@yoyoha (Josh Hara)

Funny Jokes

My parents didn’t want to move to Florida, but they turned 60 and that’s the law.

—Jerry Seinfeld

Funny Jokes

Q: What do you call an Amish guy with his hand in a horse’s mouth?

A: A mechanic.

Fields marked with an * are required
Foods That Harm Foods That HealWant a Free eBook?
FOODS THAT HARM, FOODS THAT HEAL offers important information about the role diet plays in the struggle against heart disease, cancer, diabetes and other serious illnesses. Answer the question below to receive your FREE digital eBook.

Someone in my household experiences the following conditions:

Send me a link to download FOODS THAT HARM, FOODS THAT HEAL:
By clicking below, I agree to the Trusted Media Brands Privacy Policy