Avoiding Acid Reflux on Vacation

by Jennifer Mitchell Wilson B.S. Dietetics, Dietitian, Health Professional

For years it never failed that a fun vacation or special event would become prime time for mine or my daughter's acid reflux, to flare up. It can be so frustrating to deal with those painful symptoms when you are supposed to be having a good time. Over the years we have figured out a few of the reasons these special outings bring on the burn and how to prevent it from happening on every trip.

With Spring break coming up I thought I would share what has helped us over the years so you can get through your vacation burn free.

Bring enough of your medications for the entire trip.
Being on vacation can cause us to be absent minded about things that would be second nature under normal circumstances. I distinctly recall one trip where we were hunting down a drug store to find my daughter's acid reflux medication that I had somehow managed to leave behind. Unfortunately, she was still at an age where she needed the liquid medication and all I could find were tablets. We ended up dissolving the tablet into another liquid but it was rough getting her to take it. It would have been much easier had I remembered her medication.

Sometimes you can have prescriptions sent to a pharmacy where you are vacationing if you have an emergency but it's not always easy - and often your vacation can coincide with your doctors'. So, it's best to be prepared. It helps us to write a checklist including every medication we will need and the quantity needed. We also store all of the medications together to make it easier to keep track of them.

Prevent vacation constipation.

According to The Atlantic as many as 40 percent of travelers can experience additional GI discomfort from constipation during vacations. We have found that this added pain can become a huge issue when you are already dealing with the discomfort of acid reflux. These two GI problems compounded can make for a miserable vacation.

There are several things that contribute to vacation constipation:

  • ŸHolding Stool. While it sounds silly, one cause of constipation is holding stool. This can happen because you are not in a familiar bathroom or are not allowed enough bathroom stops. Try not to allow embarrassment about this normal bodily function cause an even bigger problem. Be sure that younger kids are allowed numerous opportunities to use the restroom throughout the trip.

  • ŸInadequate hydration. Not drinking enough fluids can also be a contributing factor to vacation constipation. This mainly occurs because people do not want to have to stop to use the restroom frequently while trying to get from point A to point B. Constipation can also occur due to warm conditions causing extra loss of fluids. Drinking enough water so that your urine is pale yellow in color is a good way to help you remain hydrated.

  • ŸDietary Changes. Changes in eating habits can sometimes occur during vacations. You may eat out more frequently or partake in more convenience foods as you travel. If you eat less fiber or upset your natural gut bacteria you can be setting yourself up for constipation. Including fiber rich foods and probiotics may help prevent these problems.

Check out these additional tips from the Cleveland Clinic to keep you regular while traveling.

Don't over-indulge in trigger foods.
Obviously when you are on vacation you are probably not going to be eating exactly what you would at home. It's okay to try new foods if your acid reflux is in good control. Just know your triggers and be aware of what is in your food. Some of the common triggers for acid reflux are: high fat foods, chocolate, alcohol, spicy foods, mint, tomato, citrus juice or fruits and eating large quantities at one sitting. If you are really wanting to try a local delicacy but are afraid it could trigger your reflux try having just a few bites along with a meal that you know is easy on your gut.

It may seem like a pain to have to take these precautions in order to prevent a flare of your acid reflux but believe me it is worth it. No one wants to be missing out on the fun because of acid reflux pain. Hopefully these tips will allow you to have a fabulous vacation - burn free!

**_Jennifer has a bachelor's degree in dietetics as well as graduate work in public health and nutrition.She has worked with families dealing with digestive disease, asthma and food allergies for the past 12 years.Jennifer also serves the Board of Directors for Pediatric Adolescent Gastroesophageal Reflux Association (PAGER).

Jennifer Mitchell Wilson
Meet Our Writer
Jennifer Mitchell Wilson

Jennifer Mitchell Wilson is a dietitian and mother of three girls. Two of her children have dealt with acid reflux disease, food allergies, migraines, and asthma. She has a Bachelor of Science in dietetics from Harding University and has done graduate work in public health and nutrition through Eastern Kentucky University. In addition to writing for HealthCentral, she does patient consults and serves on the Board of Directors for the Pediatric Adolescent Gastroesophageal Reflux Association.