As amazing of an experience as travel can be, it can throw you for a loop.
Changes in environment, constant movement, and different cuisine options can be especially challenging for those suffering from chronic conditions such as GERD or acid reflux.
The good news is that if you remain mindful and plan ahead, you can ensure a more comfortable and smooth experience.
Here are five tips to keep in mind as you plan your travels–from the time spent in transit via car or plane, to the days spent enjoying your intended destination.
#1: Sleep Right for Your Type.
If you experience frequent heartburn and regurgitation of acid, you may find it hard to sleep at night. The position in which you sleep can either positively or negatively affect how intensely you experience these symptoms.
For example, if you lie flat in bed, your throat and stomach are somewhat level, making it more likely for stomach acids to travel up your esophagus, causing heartburn.
Whether you’re staying at a hotel or with family or friends, it can be beneficial to purchase a portable foam or inflatable sleeping wedge to prop your head higher up than your stomach. These items can be found online or at medical supply stores for under $100.
Additionally, it’s recommended that you eat several hours in advance before sleeping so that you experience any potential after-effects before going to sleep. Therefore, plan your schedule accordingly and eat at least two or three hours beforehand.
#2: Avoid Trigger Foods.
If you’re going to be visiting and staying with family or friends, be sure to give them a heads up about your dietary restrictions and food sensitivities.
Try to communicate these needs before getting there so that you don’t end up being served pasta with tomato sauce upon your arrival. It may be beneficial to offer to help with the food preparation in order to prepare a few dishes you know won’t cause you any issues.
Whether you’re staying with friends or family or at a hotel, you may also intend to eat out in order to explore local cuisines and top restaurants featured in your guidebook.
Here are a few recommendations to keep in mind when going out to eat…
- Check restaurant menus beforehand online to ensure they will have options for you. This article goes into further depth about the types of food and cuisines to avoid.
- Inform your server of your dietary needs and ask which items they would recommend from the menu.
- Smaller portions are essential to controlling heartburn, so either order an appetizer instead of a main course, or request to have half your entrée given to you in a takeaway bag.
#3: Travel with Prepared Snacks.
Whether you’re traveling by plane or car, your meal selections can be quite limited. Whether it’s plane food or fast food joints at rest stops, you (literally) may not be able to stomach many of the options provided.
Try to bring a few GERD-approved on-the-go treats, such as:
- Fruits of the non-citrus variety.
- Crackers with any type of nut butter.
- Raw vegetables with dip or hummus.
#4: Dress Comfortably.
If and when you experience heartburn, you don’t want to be wearing tight-fitting clothing–especially if you’re going to be sitting on a plane for several hours.
Pack loose-fitting clothing such as dresses or skirts, or pants with an elastic waistband. That way, you can travel comfortably without pressure on your stomach, which no one wants to experience when dealing with heartburn or indigestion.
#5: Bring Your Medications.
Don’t forget to pack any prescribed long-term medication you take to manage acid reflux.
And, there’s always that possibility that you’ll give in and drink a cup of coffee or eat fried food while out touring attractions or relaxing at your hotel.
When packing your toiletries, be sure to bring antacids that will ease your symptoms if they do arise, and remember to include some in your carry-on baggage if you’re taking flights to reach your destination.
You can generally find antacids in most countries, but to play it safe, I recommend bringing more than you think you may need.
No matter what, travel can bring about various changes–from the type of food consumed, to the length of time between meals, to sleeping habits. By planning ahead as much as possible, you can stay healthy and enjoy your trip.
Traveling is just one of several potentially stressful activities in our lives. Click here to learn how to manage stress and reduce your acid reflux!