Acid reflux pretty much sucks year-round, but there’s something particularly awful about being uncomfortable and restricted in your eating when you’re on vacation. Managing acid reflux while traveling can prevent discomfort and improve the quality of your travels. Here are a few things to keep in mind.
Avoid your triggers
If you suffer from acid reflux, you probably have a good idea of what makes it worse. If you already know to avoid caffeine or tomatoes in your regular life, then you definitely want to skip the coffee when you’re on vacation. A lot of acid reflux symptoms can be managed easily by avoiding foods that are really acidic or irritating. This is one of the easiest ways to manage your acid reflux on vacation.
Give yourself a buffer
If you aim to misbehave no matter what, at least wait a couple of days while your body processes the stress of flying, jet lag, and adjusts to a new cuisine. The first day or two of travel are always particularly irritating, so this is probably the most important time to watch your portions and eat stuff that doesn’t worsen your symptoms. By slowly incorporating foreign foods into your diet, you lessen the impact on your stomach.
Keep your stress down
Stress and exhaustion affect your stomach’s ability to protect itself from acid. Traveling is triggering for acid reflux by default because it’s exhausting and sometimes stressful. There are dozens of ways to keep your stress down while traveling. Don’t overcommit. Try not to plan anything on your first day so you can catch up on sleep and rest. Don’t let little annoying travel things wear you out. If your flight is delayed, read a book and wait. Try to make your vacation as stress-free as possible in order to avoid aggravating your acid reflux symptoms.
Eat more frequently instead of eating larger portions
This is good advice for life in general, but it’s particularly important to adhere to when you’re on vacation. That’s because you do a lot more activity on vacation. After you’ve walked seven miles in one day, it’s really easy to overeat at dinner and then go straight to bed, which is a huge mistake for acid reflux symptoms. Instead, buy snacks to carry around with you, or make short stops to have tapas or other small snacks throughout the day so that you’re not starving before you get a chance to eat. This will make it less likely that you’ll overeat.
Take your meds from home
This is one of the most important things to do when you’re planning travel. If you take daily medications to manage your acid reflux, bring them with you. Don’t wait until your symptoms get bad to go looking for a pharmacy abroad. Sometimes what you can get over the counter in your country is by prescription only in another. Bring whatever medication reduces your reflux and anything that treats potential secondary symptoms like a sore throat.
Keep your drinking in check
Even if alcohol is not one of your triggers for reflux, drinking can be hard on your stomach. A night at the bar can end up weighing you down with as much as 2,000 calories. Alcoholic drinks are usually mixed with other things that are irritating like carbonated beverages and orange juice. To avoid aggravating your symptoms, you should drink moderately and preferably not every day.
Suffer only for what’s worth it
This is not medical advice, but it is pretty good advice for any situation in general. If you’re in Italy, you may want to give yourself a pass on tomato at least one day. (On the pasta, maybe not so much.) If it doesn’t blow your mind, don’t waste calories and discomfort on it. But if it’s one of the best things you’ve ever eaten, then it’s worth suffering for. It’s only once. Fuck it, take a Tums and go all in.