Delayed flights, missed connections, faulty hotel bookings, and devious taxi drivers. A familiar list that represents a small portion of the many things that are outside of your control as a worried traveler. You need all the energy you can afford to combat travel challenges and to do that, your body has to be working at optimal levels.
Travel, especially to overseas destinations, exposes your body to a breadth of foreign bacteria. Your body is generally acclimatized to microbes in your home environment - our bodies learn to combat the bacteria that we normally encounter. However, when you travel, your body is stressed through time zone changes, lack of sleep, worry, and foreign foods. These stressors weaken your immune system and you become more susceptible to the effects of bad bacteria. Traveler’s diarrhea, often caused by unsanitary water, affects up to 50% of international travelers. The last thing you want to contend with is a bad bowel that inhibits your ability to enjoy your vacation.
Probiotics encourages the growth of good bacteria, which helps fight the bad bacteria that enter your body on travels. Probiotics is proven to help strengthen your gut flora and reduce the duration traveler’s diarrhea. A review of 940 studies also found that probiotics significantly prevent traveler’s diarrhea . However, it is often difficult to consume probiotics when travelling, as many probiotic foods cannot be easily packed and transported.
Here are a few ways you can care for your digestive tract while preparing for your vacation.
1. Research available foods at your travel destination
Do your best to research what probiotic foods are available in your destination. Contact your hotel, local restaurants, and if possible, markets to determine what probiotic foods you may be able to get your hands on. Fermented foods are a staple of many cultures around the world. You get to try local cuisine and get your fix of probiotics as a bonus! Keep an eye out for sauerkraut in Germany, kimchi in Korea, and cornichon in France.
2. Take probiotic supplements
The most convenient way to prepare your gut flora and treat traveler’s diarrhea is through probiotic supplements. The easy-to-store capsules are packed with billions of beneficial bacteria that help restore your gut flora. It is important to keep taking probiotic supplements before and during your travels to maintain the level of healthy bacteria in your digestive tract. Also, make sure to separate the supplements and other medication from the rest of your luggage to help speed past security checks.
3. Make your own probiotic snacks
Here is a simple and tasty recipe for fermented vegetable crackers, an easy-to-pack and probiotic-rich snack for the health-conscious person on the go.
4 cups of your favorite fermented unpasteurized vegetables
3 cups artichoke hearts
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 clove garlic
Pinch of salt
4 cups of flax seeds
Seasoning to taste
- Combine flax, artichoke hearts, salt, garlic, and seasoning in a blender.
- Stir in your choice of fermented vegetables.
- Scoop onto dehydrator tray, shape into crackers and dehydrate according to preferred texture (5-10 hours).
 McFarland, L. (2007, March) Meta-analysis of probiotics for the prevention of traveler’s diarrhea. Retreived from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17298915