The Real Reason You Might Have Trouble Using The Bathroom On Vacation

While relaxing, vacations can still come with their fair share of challenges. Between flight delays, sleeping in an unfamiliar bed, and attempting to stuff your suitcase to the brim without going over the bag weight limit, what started as much-needed downtime can quickly become a source of stress. Have you ever stopped to think about all the ways the ups and downs of a vacation getaway can take a toll on the body?

When it comes to bowel movements, different factors can influence how regularly we visit the bathroom. Factors such as diet, age, and physical activity levels can have some people pooping 3 times a day, while others may only go 3 times a week (via WebMD). If you've ever noticed that the regularity of your bowel movements seems thrown off while on vacation, you're not alone. "Vacation constipation is a normal and common occurrence," board-certified gastroenterologist Elena Ivanina told Shape.

So what causes this constipation in the first place — and more importantly — how can we help move things along so we can get back to that well-deserved margarita?

Your gut is impacted by changes in routine

According to LiveStrong, you may be suffering from traveler's constipation if you find your bowel movements have decreased in frequency, or if stool is dry, hardened, and difficult to pass while on vacation. Most often, traveler's constipation is the result of disruption to your regular routines, such as sleep, physical activity, and eating or drinking habits (via Shape).

For example, some people may find themselves drinking less water than they normally would while on vacation and simultaneously increasing their alcohol consumption, both of which can lead to constipation from dehydration (via LiveStrong). The same holds true for food changes. If the only food options on a long car trip are fast food restaurants off the interstate, you may not be getting as many nutrients, which can cause a backup in the gut. "When you're on the go, you can't always control the things you will have access to," registered dietitian Jillian Griffith told Shape. "But we can bring healthy items with us, such as fiber snacks, oatmeal packets, and chia seeds — quick things you can throw in your purse or backpack."

Lack of sleep, time zone changes, and increases in stress can also trigger traveler's constipation. Therefore, if you find you're susceptible to traveler's constipation, be mindful of what you can control. "Try to recreate as much of your normal routine as you can to keep bowels regular," board-certified gastroenterologist Dr. Kumkum Patel told Shape.