Maintaining control over one's health while traveling is as important as planning the trip. By following these five tips to enjoy GERD-free travel, most of these issues can be managed.
Travel can be very difficult for people suffering from GERD because of additional stress, unusual foods, irregular meal times, larger portion sizes, different sleeping arrangements, and overindulgence in trigger foods and alcohol.
What you will learn
- How to prepare to sleep GERD free during your travel and your stay in your travel destination
- What to eat during your trip to avoid acid reflux symptoms
- How you can easily avoid your trigger foods once you reach your destination
- What to take with you in the event you do experience acid reflux symptoms
TIP # 1: Come Prepared to Sleep GERD Free
Acid Reflux is often worse at night. Whether staying with friends, staying at a hotel, or on a cruise ship, call ahead to see if it's possible to have the head of your bed elevated a few inches. If this is impossible, you should purchase a portable wedge pillow to keep you elevated while sleeping and reduce your symptoms.
You may also want to bring your pillow if the one supplied is too thin or soft. Alternatively, you could request additional pillows or a larger pillow. Don't compromise on this because lack of sleep can be an additional acid reflux trigger. Also, staying up later than usual and not getting less sleep can increase the chances of experiencing GERD symptoms.
You may also suffer jet lag if you've flown across multiple time zones. Jet lag and strange environments make it nearly impossible to get restful sleep for the first few days after arriving.Forcing yourself to stay awake until your regular bedtime in the new time zone can help to acclimate yourself quicker to your new location's time zone. Bring earplugs and a sleep mask to reduce disturbances in your new environment. Here are some tips for relieving Jet Lag.
TIP # 2: Travel with Prepared Snacks
Whether traveling by plane, train, or car, your meal choices will be limited, so bring along some healthy snacks that you know will not trigger your acid reflux. By having snacks on hand, you also won't be tempted to eat something you know you shouldn't just because it is the only choice available.
Here are a few choices that will be easy to bring with you:
- Non-citrus fruits like apples, pears, bananas, grapes, kiwi, pineapple, pomegranates, etc. Pack them in zip lock sandwich bags, already cut up and ready to eat.
- If you can tolerate dairy, various kinds of cheese are a good idea. Crackers may also be included. Pre-cut the cheeses for easier consumption. Cottage cheese is also a possibility.
- Crackers with any kind of nut butter or hummus
- Small portions of yogurt, preferably Greek and low fat
- Raw vegetables like celery, carrots, mushrooms, cauliflower, broccoli, etc. with some type of dip or hummus
- Hard-boiled eggs
- Popcorn, pretzels
- Rice cakes
- Almonds, pistachios, walnuts, sunflower seeds, etc.
TIP # 3: Dress Comfortably
You will most likely be sitting for most of the trip. Therefore, the last thing you need will be tight-fitting clothing. On the day of travel, choose loose-fitting, comfortable clothing. Restrictive and tight clothing around the waist can cause acid reflux, especially if you are bloated after eating.
If you are flying or driving, you must wear a seatbelt. Take breaks often, either at rest stops, if you are in a car, or take frequent walks up and down the aisle on a plane or train.
Travelling can be very stressful at times. Try to remain relaxed throughout the trip by listening to relaxing music, reading, or some deep breathing and meditation when all else fails. Keep your stress levels as low as you can. Be mentally prepared for stress-causing situations that may arise during your travel.
TIP # 4: Eating While on Vacation to Avoid GERD
If you stay with friends or family, make sure they are aware of your dietary restrictions and acid reflux trigger foods so they can accommodate you as much as possible. In addition, they may be more receptive to your needs if you offer to help with the food preparation.
If you plan on eating out a lot, review the restaurant menu ahead of time so you already know what you can safely order before arriving at the restaurant. Most restaurants' menus are available online.
Alternatively, inform the server what triggers your acid reflux and ask your server to recommend meals that do not include those ingredients. Selecting smaller portioned meals or eating an appetizer instead of the main course may also help. You could also request that they only serve you half of the meal and pack the remainder for you to take away with you to eat later. Above all else, eat as healthy as you possibly can.
Drink alcohol moderately, avoiding drinks that are caffeinated or carbonated. Also, avoid alcoholic drinks that contain citrus juices if these have caused you issues in the past.
Avoid going too long between meals. This can cause you to overeat when you eventually have a meal. Have regular snacks between meals.
Avoid eating late in the evening, within 2-3 hours of bedtime. I'm sure you all know this is a disaster waiting to happen for acid reflux sufferers.
I rarely recommend taking antacid medication, but in this case, it's better to have antacid tablets with you to quickly relieve your symptoms rather than suffering and getting more stressed.Lastly, research the local cuisine. If the menu is in a foreign language, you may not realize that you will be eating one of your trigger foods. Translating the menu ingredients using Google Translate will go a long way in helping you do this. It will be time well spent.
TIP # 5: Take a GERD Attack Kit With You
Since travel will almost always come with unpleasant surprises, make sure you have an emergency reflux attack kit. Here are some things you should include in your travel kit:
- Home remedies such as Manuka honey and apple cider vinegar
- Natural supplements such as mastic gum
- Portable wedge pillow (inflatable)
- Snacks, as already mentioned in Tip #2
- As a last resort, antacid tablets or liquids
This may seem like a lot of preparation for a vacation or business trip. However, it will improve your experience and be well worth the additional effort.
The information contained here does not constitute medical advice and is not meant to diagnose, treat, prevent, or cure disease. Please contact your doctor. The information provided is for informational purposes only and are solely the views of the author.