Traveling with IBS

This is a very sensitive topic normally reserved for impolite conversation, so thank you in advance for reading and perhaps answering. I will be traveling to Spain to do a section of the Camino in a couple weeks. I suffer from IBS-D, and I'm concerned about the rich Spanish diet irritating my condition. Any other IBS sufferers have any experience in Spain or traveling generally that they can share? Some tips, tricks, or ideas would be very much appreciated. I confess I'm nervous - my first trip to Europe, and my first time taking a vacation at all since my diagnosis a couple years ago. Please feel free message me privately.

Posted by Christina
New York, NY, 10025
365 posts

I have IBS-C but have not been to Spain, so all I can say is that I feel your pain! I find my condition usually revolves itself on the road since I walk more, but I'm sure it's a different situation for you. Have you figured out your triggers? If you can find out what kind of food is served on the Camino, maybe you can figure out a battle plan. Good luck!

Posted by Rebecca
Nashville, TN, USA
1290 posts

This is a subject for you to discuss with your gastroenterologist.

Posted by Lo
1678 posts

I was diagnosed with Crohn's Disease when I was about 34. I have lived and traveled with it for about 34 years since then. I agree that you need to talk to your gastroenterologist. But you also need to find out details, and you know the kind I mean, about the section of the Camino you are going to walk. Beyond the diet triggers, potential water concerns, and whatever meds you need, be prepared with TP wherever you are. I always carry some, and you are likely to see Europeans with rolls in the back windows of their cars covered with little knitted TP cozies. It's not because they have gastrointestinal problems. It's because toilets frequently have no TP at all. About the Spanish diet, I don't recall it being particularly "rich." It's definitely not like Mexican food, if that's what you're thinking. This Wikipedia List of Spanish Dishes is great because it shows typical foods from different parts of the country along with a map. However, part of the research you need to do for your Camino walk will be about where you will stay along the way and what they usually serve.

Posted by Nancy
Bloomington, IL, USA
8729 posts

Eli, the OP is walking the Camino - not possible to rent an apartment.

Posted by Liz
Malaga, Malaga, Spain
410 posts

I live in Spain and wonder what you mean by the rich diet. Spanish food is not generally very spicy, or creamy, which is what I associate with the decription of rich. I am assuming you know what foods trigger your symptoms and would hope that you would be easily able to avoid those. If I can answer any specific food questions, please ask.

Posted by Tom
Lewiston, NY
11065 posts

Ryan, I normally wouldn't ask you to reveal things about your medical history, but since you posted information already, I'll ask so we can get some clarity. When you write "IBS" do you mean "Irratable Bowel Syndrome" or "Inflammatory Bowel Syndrome/Disease" (ie, Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis)? Because the pathophysiology of each category is completely different, make sure the advice you're getting from anonymous posters matches your condition.

Posted by Mme Eli
1170 posts

Tom, I have IBD (Ryan, I think you're referring to irritable bowel, right?), either way, you can travel. I do all the time. There are precautions I take, and with Celiac and food allergies/intolerances, I have even bigger issues, but still travel. I do rent apartments and cook my meals, travel with meals and snacks, TSA has been wonderful in the US and overseas no problems ever going through security. While in Barcelona, I did eat out (2008, didn't know I had Celiac and food allergies), and was quite sick midway into the vacation. Now I'm a pro. Is there anyway you could rent an apartment? You would know what triggers your symptoms, and try to avoid those things. PM me if you need anything else.

Posted by Mme Eli
1170 posts

Oops. Pardon me on this one. Got back day before yesterday from Europe, so I'm still suffering the effects of jet lag.