Road Tripping with IBS – Successfully!

I did it!

I survived a ten-day road trip!  I’m happy to say that my stomach and gut co-operated and must have appreciated all the effort I put into planning a trip that wasn’t unpleasantly adventurous.  It can be done:

Road Tripping with IBS – Successfully!

Here’s my assessment of how each of my plans worked out:

Kitchen on the Road:  Most of my supplies worked out really well – if anything I needed to bring a bit more.  Using the same spoon for Peanut Butter and then Metamucil was a bit icky, but it worked.  Next time I’ll bring 2 microwaveable containers because I was always washing one out each day.  Speaking of washing dishes – next time I will definitely bring a medium sized plastic bowl, dishwashing soap and dishtowel.  Washing dished in a hotel bathroom (when we didn’t have access to a kitchenette) was challenging.

Usually the cooler fit somewhere near the kitchenette or microwave/fridge stand, and I was able to prepare lunches or dinners fairly well.  In the photo you can see the cooler, my lunch kit, some olive oil/condiments and a few groceries.  It was a bit messy, but it worked.

 

It's a bit messy, but has everything I need!
It’s a bit messy, but has everything I need!

Breakfasts – ok, I did get tired of having a rice cake with peanut butter and a banana every morning for ten days.  But, it was safe, so I would do this again.  Next time I will bring ‘safe’ teabags.  At some of the fancier hotels they had packet of tea that were scary blends (Earl Grey Apple?  What’s that?).

Lunches – the lunch kit that I packed each morning worked really well.  A small container of peanuts, an orange and/or carrot sticks were enough to get me through the mid-day meal.  I never had a problem bringing it out at a restaurant (The Husband and The Son ordered off the menu).  I had brought along a supply of IBS-friendly granola bars (I’ll blog my recipe sometime in the future) and these were a lifesaver for a mid-afternoon snack.

For drinking, I tried to stick to bottled water.  I read somewhere that it’s really important for IBS sufferers to avoid drinking water when they travel – even if it’s ‘safe’, it can be different enough to upset a touchy tummy.  I did get bored of plain water and picked up some Lipton’s iced tea powder – it’s made with ordinary sugar so OK for the FODMAO diet.  I mixed some into my bottled water in the morning so I could have an iced tea when we were out sightseeing in the afternoon.

Dinners – I had a few different experiences, and survived them all!.  When we stayed with family, they were very accommodating and made up simple, FODMAP friendly food just for me.  At a fish fry one evening my cousin broiled the fresh fish in olive oil and it was fabulous.  I was so very grateful for her kindness 0 she had made extra for me to take back to the hotel. I was able to portion them out and get the hotel to freeze the packets for me.  By keeping them in the cooler or the hotel fridge I had 3 more nights of safe and delicious protein.

In restaurants, the chefs card worked some of the time.  I was surprised to discover ho many restaurants to not have the ability to provide an unseasoned/unsauced meal.  Fries were either coated or cooked in a fryer that wasn’t dedicated to just fries (I have been caught by cross contamination in this way).  Fortunately, I was able to get a baked potato and steamed broccoli at a few places, and then just opened my pop-top can of tuna at the table.  With a glass of red wine, I really enjoyed the experience of eating out – safely.

Because we were usually able to pop by a restaurant well before dinner, I was able to ask if their menu had any acceptable items.  If the only restaurant available didn’t have acceptable menu items, I brought along my little lunch kit packed with microwaved potatoes (I had purchased some mini potatoes just for this purpose) and olive oil mini-carrots, and my tuna or the leftover fish or chicken from a previous dinner (I saved leftovers!).  I never had any hassle at a restaurant for bringing in safe food  – I did order wine, and of course The Husband and The Son were ordering off the menu.  I don’t imagine they’d be thrilled if we all brought our meals in!

microwaved potatoes, mini carrots and leftover microwaved chicken.  Just serve with wine!
microwaved potatoes, mini carrots and leftover microwaved chicken. Just serve with wine!

 

As for my Emergency Travel Kit – I didn’t need it.  I had it safely stowed in my purse, which took up a lot of room in the passenger seat of the car, but it was reassuring to have it so close by.

Road Tripping with IBS - Successfully! My emergency travel kit is ready!
Road Tripping with IBS – Successfully! My emergency travel kit is ready!

 

Can you believe it?  I’m still a little bit in awe of this.  It was such a huge relief and a sense of accomplishment and freedom when I finally reached home and realized that road tripping with IBs can be done – successfully!

 

Travel Emergency Kit

I know that spending ten days away from my kitchen means that I will be sometimes dependant on others for the safety of my meals.  I know that my health is my responsibility, but I just can’t see a way around sometimes eating food that others have prepared for me!  This is why I have created my:

Travel Emergency Kit

To prepare for dining on the road, I have packed two pieces of equipment that I will need for survival:

My first piece of equipment is something called a Chefs card.  I got this idea from Sloane Miller in her book Allergic Girl, and think it is brilliant.  I find it very awkward trying to explain my dairy, egg, and beef intolerances, in addition to my need to follow a FODMAP diet.  I have made up my own card, trying to make it as simple as possible:

 

I plan on giving this to my server each time we go out to a restaurant!
I plan on giving this to my server each time we go out to a restaurant!

My plan is to hand this to the server.  I feel very badly about using the word ‘allergy’, becaue there are people out there who truly have life-threatening allergies, and I don’t want to take away from them in any way.  However, I worry that using the word ‘intolerant’ will be translated by the server into ‘fussy eater’ and not taken as seriously as I need it to be.  A little bit of butter and I am not responsible for what happens to the floor of their washroom!

My second piece of equipment is a true travel emergency kit.  I’ve done some thinking and have decided that if I were to have a reaction to food eaten in a restaurant, I just need to get back to the hotel room.  So, to deal with the immediate diarrhea, I’ll pack a change of underwear and pants or shorts.  To attempt to clean up a bit, I’ll pack extra wipes or keleenex, and some hand sanitizer.  To try and manage a car ride back to the hotel, I’ll include some sanitary napkins to line my underwear.  To try and halt the crisis, I’ll include some pepto bismol or immodium.  I also included a small grocery bag to store anything soiled that I want to keep, but my plan is just to toss any clothing that gets damaged, as I can’t really see doing much laundry in the hotel room.

Contents of my kit.

 

I did stand in the grocery store for a while, looking at the adult diapers.  Previously, the thought of wearing these really would have been a non-starter with me, but now that I’m thinking of the possibility of fighting diarrhea in our car, the idea is starting to grow on me.  I wish they sold them in individual travel packs.  I know there’s a commercial on right now where you can have a sample sent to you, but I don’t have time for that.  In the end I decided to try and make it without this resource on hand.

To try and disguise this collection, I purchased a cute gold travel kit and managed to stuff everything in to it.  To disguise this travel emergency kit, I purchased a new purse that I have christened ‘my travel purse’.  The emergency kit fits snugly in the bottom of this deep purse, and I can tore my wallet, etc, on top.  It’s extra to lug around, but at least now I’m prepared.

The kit fits snugly in the bottom of the purse with enough room left over for my wallet.
The kit fits snugly in the bottom of the purse with enough room left over for my wallet.

In addition to this emergency travel kit, I’m also going to throw in a zip-loc bag with a roll of toilet paper and another grocery ‘garbage’ bag into the car somewhere where I can get at it easily.

So, armed with my meal planning, kitchen in a cooler, chef cards and emergency travel kit, I think I’m ready as I’ll ever be to hit the open road…

I’ll let you know how it goes…..

 

 

Road Trip Preparations AKA: Kitchen on the Road

Road Trip Preparations AKA: Kitchen on the Road

As anyone with IBS knows, the thought of going on a road trip doesn’t fill oneself with carefree thoughts of the open road.  There is fear, anxiety and a general feeling of helplessness.  That’s why I thought that making a lot (a LOT) of road trip preparations would really, really be important.

Our road trip this summer is to take us through the American mid-west with a goal of visiting family and doing some touristy things.  The Son and The Husband are eager for new sights and are really looking forward to the journey.  We will be on the road for 10 days, staying in 4 different hotels.  The Husband has been so very supportive, and has booked us hotels with fridges and microwave ovens in the room.

road trip

I am preparing on two fronts:  for Day-to Day meals and for Emergencies.  Here’s my plan for day to day meals…

Road Trip Preparation AKA Kitchen on the Road

My road trip preparations for regular meals means that I am going to be travelling with a small kitchen in a cooler (good thing we have a big car!)  Here are my plans for each meal:

Breakfast

To start my day I need two things to function:  a hot cup of tea with milk (dairy free) and sugar, and something with protein to keep me full.  The tea should be easy, I’ve found small tetra-packs of almond milk that I can bring.  Best of all, they don’t need to be refrigerated if they are unopened!  On the downside, once the container is opened, it can’t be sealed shut again.  Ill either drink a lot of tea each day (to use up the container), bring tape to try and seal it shut, or throw the remaining contents out.  I hate wasting food, so well see how this goes.  For the protein, I’ve decided to bring plain rice cakes and organic peanut butter.  I can eat this in the room with a minimal of fuss – maybe add a banana for flair.  The organic peanut butter needs to be refrigerated, and I figure I can manage this with the in room fridges and our cooler.  I’ll need to bring cutlery, and some sort of container that I can fill with hotel ice each night, as I doubt the hotel fridge will be able to refreeze a freezer pack.

Lunch

This will often be eaten at small road-side diners and I don’t want the hassle of checking with the waitress about ingredients, cross-contamination, and that sort of thing. My plan is to bring along a FODMAP friendly granola bar (heavy on the nuts for protein), or a small Tupperware container of nuts, a small baggie of carrots or an orange.  I’ll need a lunch kit that I can fill up each morning and then have accessible for when we stop.

Dinner

Dining out is usually one of the joys of travel, but I’d rather be safe and healthy than adventurous and sick.  So, my plan is to try and find a restaurant where I can get plain rice, baked potato, or fries that are uncoated and cooked in a dedicated fryer (no cross-contamination).  Also, I think it’s pretty easy to ask for steamed carrots or broccoli, so that will take care of my dietary need for veggies.  For protein, I hope I can get a plain grilled chicken breast, but ‘Ive got a back up plan.  I’ve discovered pull-tab single serving sized tins of tuna – easy to pop into my purse and have in an emergency!

Snacks

For snacks, I’ve discovered that salt and vinegar chips are fairly safe (still read the label as some brands list dairy on the ingredient list – what’s up with that?)  I know this won’t wash with the health food advocates out there, but I’m on vacation and have enough food denial in my life.

Everything but the kitchen sink!
Everything but the kitchen sink!

So, Ill take some stuff, buy some stuff on the road.  Hopefully my road trip preparations will take some of the adventure out of travelling with IBS!

I’m still working on what Ièll bring for emergencies… stay tuned for my next blog….

Prepping for Travel with IBS

It’s been a while since I’ve chatted about how my health is… since going on the FODMAP diet a few months ago I’ve had an amazing stretch of good general health and predictable bowel movements (to us with IBS this is VERY important).

Recently, though, it feels like my symptoms are returning.  Not alarmingly, but still enough to cause me concern.  At this point in following the FODMAP diet I should be challenging my gut with various foods to see what my tolerance levels are.  But…. without even doing this, I seem to be having a few more trips to the bathroom that I’d like. I figure that I’m either not following the FODMAP diet closely enough (allowing hidden ingredients to slip in), or my physical system is changing yet again.  Oh joy.

This is particularly troubling because I have a big road trip planned this summer.  A loooong family road trip across the prairies.  The thought of travelling really makes me nervous and if my gut is unpredictable before we start out… I can only imagine the adventures we’ll have!

I suppose this means I need to get busy and do some big prepping for travel with my IBS.  I’ll look into what might be causing my gut it’s current annoyance, and figure out what I need to do for this trip.  What food do I/can I bring?  What can I buy on the road?  How will I handle restaurants?  It’s obvious I need to be incredibly prepared for this trip.

The Husband has already been very supportive and has tried to make sure that all the hotels we will be staying in will have an in-room fridge and microwave.  Now I just need to do a bit of meal planning, making sure I get the nutrition I need while we are on the road.  We’ve already decided to bring a cooler along, and stock it with my groceries.  I’ve done a little shopping for travel-sized safe foods (dairy and egg free, and FODMAP friendly), and found small tetra packs of almond milk.

 almond milk tetra

This should at least get me through breakfast – a cup of tea with almond milk, a rice cake with peanut butter and a banana.  Nutritious and easy!

It’s the other meals that will require some bigger prepping for travel.  Planning and creativity!

The old saying is ‘hope for the best and prepare for the worst’, so I suppose I should prepare for the very real possibility that I will eat something that disagrees with my gut.  If it decides to rebel, I’m sure it will do so on a day we are on the highway, with no restroom in sight.

I definitely need a plan for this!  Stay tuned to hear how I do my prepping for travel with IBS….