A vacation is a great way to beat stress, unwind and see the world. However, if you suffer from GERD, a vacation brings its own set of challenges. Think of new sleeping environments, new food triggers, and overindulging in alcohol because you’re on vacation. So, what can you do to travel safely and happily with acid reflux? Let’s find out!
Why Travel Presents Many Challenges to the GERD Sufferer?
As amazing an experience as travel can be, it can exacerbate your acid reflux symptoms. Traveling goes hand in hand with many GERD triggers:
- Changes in your environment that can stress you out.
- New sleeping arrangements which can interfere with quality of sleep.
- An unfamiliar cuisine wherein you may not even recognize your triggers.
- Overindulging in food because you’re no longer cooking your own meals and hence are no longer feeling very motivated to follow your GERD-friendly diet.
- Constant movement that wears you out, crossing time zones on long travel which can throw both meal times and sleep cycle awry.
The list is endless.
It’s harder to keep tabs on your health when you’re traveling. This can put your body under a lot of stress, and we all know how stress and acid reflux are deeply connected. In fact, GERD symptoms are also worsened by poor sleep, often an unavoidable accompaniment to traveling, which is another reason why you must be extra careful when traveling. Also, it can be challenging to eat meals on time when you’re on a business trip and may not get access to food on time or are resigned to eat the terrible food at conferences and buffets.
So, let’s discuss a few tips and tricks for safe travel with acid reflux, because carefully planning around these challenges is as important as planning the itinerary of your trip.
1. Eat Sensibly
A vacation is all about exploring a new place and indulging in a new cuisine. However, choose your restaurants well so that you can maintain your GERD-friendly diet. Don’t overindulge in heartburn triggers. Learning how to order right, when trying a new cuisine, will help you enjoy your food much more. Request your server to customize your meal and don’t forget to be assertive when you ask!
2. Limit Your Alcohol Intake
It’s alright to have a glass of wine with your meal, but try not to go overboard. Want to try local spirits? Make it a point to ask the bartender what goes into your drink, and avoid cocktails mixed with citrus juices at all costs.
3. Don’t Smoke
Nicotine in cigarettes relaxes the lower esophageal sphincter, a muscular ring that prevents stomach contents from rising back into the esophagus.
4. Don’t Skip Meals When Sight-Seeing
If you have a tight schedule wherein it’s not possible to stop for a meal in-between, make sure you pack some healthy snacks in your bag to keep yourself from feeling hungry when you’re on the go.
5. Avoid Temptations
Sometimes, well-meaning travel companions might encourage you to try foods that could cause heartburn, or might try to persuade you for second helpings. Remember, slipping up will bring a nasty acid-reflux attack which will only ruin your vacation.
6. Make Sure You Get Enough Sleep
Sleep deprivation can trigger heartburn and changing time zones may wreak havoc on your sleep cycle. Give yourself plenty of time to adjust to these changes after you arrive at your destination. Make sure you request for extra pillows at your hotel if you can’t prop up the bed (since keeping your head/upper body raised ensures that food and acid doesn’t flow back up the esophagus.)
7. Be Prepared
When on vacation, it’s not always possible to keep a tight control on your diet. Do carry your acid reflux medication with you, and pack a few extra ones, just in case.
With careful planning and commitment, it’s possible to have safe and happy travels with acid reflux. Bon Voyage!