Traveling and gut health doesn’t seem to jive. Fruity drinks must be in your hands at all times, and dessert is always part of the meal. How on earth can you upkeep your gut health on vacation? Well, the seemingly impossible can be pulled off. Here are some tips for maintaining gut health on vacation.
- 1 Why Maintaining Gut Health on Vacation is Important
- 2 How Gut Health on Vacation Can Be Compromised
- 3 How to Improve Gut Health on Vacation
- 4 Resources
Why Maintaining Gut Health on Vacation is Important
Going on a vacation is a growing necessity for the overworked. This time granted to us may be the only semblance of work-life balance that we will ever achieve. It’s a rare moment to unplug from the monotony of life, live in the moment, and create memories that will last a lifetime.
The American Psychological Association (APA) looked at the attitude surrounding vacation time for United States employees . They conducted a Work and Well-Being Survey to get a snapshot of the emotional benefits holidays have on employees and their productivity.
After a vacation, the American workforce experiences:
- More Positivity When Returning to Work (68%)
- Increased Energy Levels (66%)
- Boost in Productivity (58%)
- More Motivation (57%)
- Less Stress (57%)
- Better Work Quality (55%)
This report overwhelmingly suggests that vacation can have a positive impact on your mental state. Seeing as the mind and gut are closely connected via the gut-brain-axis, you can make an argument that going on a holiday may improve your gut health.
In the same breath, experiencing gastrointestinal distress during your siesta can put a real damper on festivities. There are many reasons that your gut biome can become compromised during travel. Let’s take a closer look as to why your gut health on vacation can become endangered.
How Gut Health on Vacation Can Be Compromised
Our microbiome is such an intricate system. Several factors may cause harmful intestinal flora to spark up, the immune system to become stressed, or GI problems to occur. Here are some of the reasons why you can experience lousy gut health on vacation.
From TSA pat-downs to crowds at tourist attractions to getting lost in unfamiliar places, there are many reasons to experience bursts of stress during vacation.
For the overly anxious, stress might be a reason to avoid holiday altogether.
Experiencing stress throughout your sabbatical can cause disruption to your gut health on vacation.
Traveling introduces your body to tons of germs. They’re crawling on the tray table on your plane, the poles on the subway, and Lyft driver’s backseat. Through the gut-immune-axis, this may cause your gut health on vacation can become compromised.
Vacationing may cause those with a weakened immune system to feel sick. In turn, you might have fewer immune cells to fight off pathogenic stomach bacteria. However, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t travel outside of your bubble.
An analysis by Yale found,
“Travel exposes you to different environments, which create stronger antibodies and boost your immune system significantly. Antibodies are the little proteins that shield your immune system from deadly pathogens, and multiple research studies imply that being exposed to dirty or minor illnesses really keeps your body and gut more grounded . “– Yale Tribune
To reap the benefits of optimal gut health on travel, you’ll need to take care of your immune system. We’ll discuss a little more of that in a bit.
The number one disruptor of gut health on vacation is our dietary decisions. In fact, some of the food choices we make on holiday can last with us for a while. One study found that “vacations resulted in significant weight gain” that lasted up to six weeks after the siesta ended .
As explained in our Ultimate Guide to Gut-Weight Axis, excess weight can trigger GI problems. Inevitably, you may bring these GI issues home with you. Then, it’s not just your gut health on vacation that’s compromised. It’s your health, in general, that’s in jeopardy.
How to Improve Gut Health on Vacation
Nothing worth having is going to come without a set of drawbacks. The potential of having a compromised immune system, experiencing stress, or gaining weight shouldn’t turn you off from travel. You need (and deserve) this mental clarity. If done right, you can improve your gut health on vacation. Here’s how.
Research Restaurants Ahead of Time
A big reason we hurt our gut health on vacation is due to the poor choices we make. It’s easy to overindulge on eats. This sentiment is especially true when you go into things without a game plan.
Before you go on your vacay, Google “healthy food choices in (city).” Scope out some menus. See where you can find some unique (and healthy) dishes you can’t get around the corner from your home.
By researching first, not only will you eat healthier on your holiday, but you’ll look forward to it.
Cut Down on the Desserts
One of the most vital aspects of a vacation is partaking in the culture’s food. However, this pastime can lend us to going overboard. Prior to travel, look up the most popular desserts of the area. Chances are, there are only a couple of treats that really unique to the region.
Try them once or twice. Having a beignet in New Orleans or a strudel in Vienna is great. However, you don’t need to get one with every meal. That’s no longer experiencing a culture, that’s being greedy.
Of course, some places will have a few more desserts you need to try. Split a couple with a friend. Don’t eat it all on your own. Making a conscious decision to not overload on sugar will maintain your gut health on vacation.
Bring Essential Oils
Bring essential oils with you on your holiday. These are all-natural immune boosters that may also exhibit antimicrobial and antibacterial properties. They are less abrasive than hand sanitizer and don’t promote antibiotic resistance. Therefore, essential oils can be used in a multitude of way to improve gut health vacation.
Sanitize Hotel Rooms
81% of surfaces sampled in hotels contain fecal matter . That alarming statistic can easily compromise your immune system.
With fewer immune system cells to support your intestinal flora, you may be more susceptible to poor gut health on vacation. That’s why you might want to bring some antibacterial products with you.
Pack a diffuser with you and run it in different areas of your hotel room. Get a 2-for-1 and inhale these essential oils as you mediate. This practice will naturally lower stress levels!
Also, create a mixture of essential oils and carrier oils. Put your concoction into a glass bottle that’s less than three ounces. Pour a little on a wipe and use to clean your tray table, bathroom handle, or toilet seat.
Not to mention, essential oils can also help with stress-related travel woes. Bring a bottle of lavender essential oil and inhale straight from the bottle whenever you feel overwhelmed.
Find Time to Exercise
When our body feels bogged down by gluten-heavy apps, fatty dinners, and sugary treats, it needs help breaking things down. Exercise is the perfect way to assist in helping the body digest our overindulgences.
Physical activity shakes our stomach bacteria up. As a result, they have more chemical reactions. In the end, exercise helps beneficial microbes grow in numbers. Then, they can fight off other pathogens that upset your immune system and compromise your gut health on vacation.
You don’t need to go to the hotel gym to get your sweat-on.
We tend to go a little hard on the booze during a vacation. While it’s okay to let loose, you shouldn’t confuse your vacation with a bender. If you are feeling some GI problems, lay off the alcohol.
While a glass of red wine provides great prebiotics for probiotics, most alcohol just destroys bacteria. After all, it’s used to sterilize wounds!
Also, many alcohol-based beverages are overloaded with sugar. So, don’t go too crazy with the fruity cocktails by the pool. If you want an alcoholic beverage, try to make sure your mixers are as clean as possible.
Want to feel like you’re on vacation? Try a mocktail or get some club soda. Maybe even get a CBD-infused drink? Either way, just cut back on the booze and give your intestinal flora a break.
Go to a Kombucha Brewery
Want good gut health on vacation? Drink some probiotics. A growing sector in travel is visiting craft breweries. Now, kombucha breweries are popping up, too! In fact, we compiled a list of some of the best kombucha breweries in the United States.
Kombucha is a fermented tea drink. It can be flavored with anything from star anise to turmeric to lemons. Be sure to try out what the locals are brewing. Get a flight, fill a growler, or grab a pint. Either way, you will supply your gut with beneficial stomach bacteria that can help break down the foods causing you gastrointestinal distress.
While kombucha breweries are not in every market, probiotics are. In fact, you can have custom probiotics that you can bring with you anywhere. Weeks before you travel, take a Thryve Inside Gut Test.
That way, we know what your gut biome should look like. With that information, we can tailor a probiotic supplement to help get your gut health on track. Then, you can keep your gut biome on the right path during your holiday.
By choosing to Thryve Inside, we give your immune cells, mental health, and metabolism the backup it needs to have a healthy vacation. That way, you can reap the true benefits of your siesta.
You no longer need to worry about your gut health on vacation. Instead, focus on the things that matter most–creating memories. Safe travels!
 “Vacation Time Recharges US Workers, but Positive Effects Vanish Within Days, New Survey Finds.” American Psychological Association, American Psychological Association, 27 June 2018, www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2018/06/vacation-recharges-workers.
 Karl, J. P., Hatch, A. M., Arcidiacono, S. M., Pearce, S. C., Pantoja-Feliciano, I. G., Doherty, L. A., & Soares, J. W. (2018). Effects of Psychological, Environmental and Physical Stressors on the Gut Microbiota. Frontiers in microbiology, 9, 2013. doi:10.3389/fmicb.2018.02013
 “Scientifically Proven Health Benefits of Traveling Abroad.” The Yale Tribune, 6 July 2018, campuspress.yale.edu/tribune/scientifically-proven-health-benefits-of-traveling-abroad/.
 Cooper, Jamie A, and Theresa Tokar. “A Prospective Study on Vacation Weight Gain in Adults.” Physiology & Behavior, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 15 Mar. 2016, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26768234.
 Harmon, Katherine. “Hotel Rooms’ Most Bacteria-Laden Surfaces? Don’t Touch That Dial.” Scientific American Blog Network, Scientific American, 20 June 2012, blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/hotel-rooms-most-bacteria-laden-surfaces-dont-touch-that-dial/.