I have just got back from a week of travelling in Europe. Tummy travels to be honest. Or as my brother has just suggested to me whilst reading the title over my shoulder, tummy troubles. Actually, I am happy to report both me and my good ol’ tummy really enjoyed the trip. My dad and I seem to have made it a tradition now to go on a week’s holiday just before I go back to uni. Last year we went to Berlin. This year: Hamburg and then Amsterdam. Both these cities are cool AF. Hamburg is beaut. It has amazing buildings and landscapes and the river vibe ~~ooo~~ is pretty damn kewl. Some of the highlights were a visit to the Cap San Diego (built 1961, one of the last of the six ‘Cap San’ class liners), the Elbe tunnel (built 1911, has a depth of 24m, google it, it’s super clever i.e. very German), and the Hamburg Kunsthalle, which is the largest museum in the country. Some of the art here was wow-worthy, some was umm-worthy, and some ‘artworks’ were literally pieces of crap stuck on a floor/to a wall. (Just saying, I can most definitely appreciate art, but LBR, modern art can be questionable sometimes lolz). We also visited Haffkrug/Sierksdorf, the Baltic coast. This was such a nice day and the German seaside is pretty sexy. And as soon as we had got there, our Hamburg visit was over. All in all, I really enjoyed speaking German again, and see this city as somewhere I could potentially study/work in in the future. Some of my favourite Hamburg pics are below!
Then we drove on to Amsterdam. This was pretty exciting. Amsterdam has such a rep for being this liberal, lively and sick party city with really good vibez. It certainly lived up to this. This was my first time in Holland, and what a good first time it was. Aside from my dad’s drinking problem (hi dad if you’re lurking, you know it’s a problem) and the fact I just couldn’t get him out of the distillery he found in the Red Light District (Wynand Fockink – check it out, defo worth a visit, its name warrants that), it was a really good trip. We didn’t have a lot of time to spend in the city, but we visited the Rijksmuseum and saw Rembrandt’s ,Night Watch’. If someone can tell my dad and I why this is so famous, we’d appreciate it. Don’t get me wrong, it’s an impressive painting, but seriously, why so famous???? Regardless, Amsterdam is a pretty great city, and I think I will be going back, next time with friends since my dad is so embarassing when he puts alcohol and Amsterdam together. Cringe. Pics below. Including a great selfie of my drunk dad. No one wants to miss drunk MartinLAD.
I want to stay in line with tummies next since my tummy was a relatively happy tummy on holiday. I might have mentioned in my last post that IBS tummies suffer with travel. If not, then, well… they do. It messes up the toilet routine, new/different/unknown/unfamiliar food can cause issues (ok Germany yeh, what is your deal with the amount of gluten and bread in yo food fam??), and sometimes anxiety about travel (like airport delays, new surroundings etc) can also cause issues. One of my friends (who has IBS too) told me a fun story recently about a holiday this summer – she had to make a trip to a pharmacy with her boyfriend’s dad for Movicol whilst abroad. I think I would want to crawl into a ball and wait for the ground to swallow me up if this happened to me. Creds to her for dealing with this! This is a snapshot of travelling abroad with IBS. I want to therefore include some tips for travelling with IBS, which I found really helped me whilst abroad. Aside from some of the usual travellers tummy (i.e. Constipation for me, those people who get the runs on holiday, RIP and bless you tbh), I was relatively fine, partly due to the fact I was just so excited and pumped to be travelling again.
MY 3 MAIN TIPS:
- When you travel out, whether you’re flying, driving, eurostarring, jetpacking, or teleporting (heleporting, hehe), make sure that the person/ people you are travelling with are aware that your tummy can be unpredictable. I find that awareness helps. You’re less likely to be anxious about things e.g. delays/travel anxiety affecting your stomach if the people around you know. Basically you’re not suffering in silence, and in the event of you needing to rush to a toilet, grab some laxatives (oh joy) or get a heat patch for those ghastly contraction cramps, then they will understand and you will avoid a big scene. I understand this can perhaps be slighlty more daunting if you’re travelling with a friend/boyfriend/girlfriend, however, you do you boo. It’s your trip too. You are going to want to enjoy yourself. You’ll probably even find your fellow travel bud also gets a messed up tummy on holiday. It’s really normal. So don’t be afraid. You will probably find you can even laugh about it too! (side note toilet seats abroad always really weird me out. Can’t deal.)
- Eating on holiday – I haven’t yet got around to doing a blog on food and my diet etc. I will, I promise. However in brief I try to eat a gluten free diet, low in lactose too, and relatively low FODMAP since this makes me feel more confident about my IBS and less anxious about the unpredictable effects IBS can have. So when you’re travelling, use the gem that is google maps to locate restaurants/cafés that offer things you’ll feel comfortable eating. This is also a good way to discover the city and new dishes. My example for this was in Amsterdam – I used google maps and its reviews to find us a really nice Italian restuarant (Café Piazza – go there if you’re in Dam) where GF was offered (see pic below, do not see pic if hungry though, soz) and we ended up having a really great meal.I was also happy to eat something gluten free after scoffing far too much bread, too many croissants and a few too many leibniz biscuits whilst in Hamburg.
Side note though: I was really surprised and excited to see how clued up Germany is becoming with regard to food allergies. There were quite impressive Schär sections in the supermarkets, and menus are labelled clearly using a number system to indicate the presence of allergens. This all helps to ease anxiety about food, which for so many of us with IBS can be a massive help. One more thing – Air BnB. Use it. You can eat whatever/whenever/however (lol) you like if you get an apartment. It’s probably cheaper too. Home away from home and all that shiz too.
- Be kind to yoooooself – I have been of the mindset for a while that I shouldn’t do things ‘bcoz my IBS’ full stop. Hey Lena??? (haha geddit, He-lena), NO. Stop thinking that. We should not be disadvantaged or stopped from travelling simply due to our IBS. Managed well whilst on holiday, we can relax and let loose too. Because why bloody not. We deserve it. However, do be kind to yourself. Whilst you shouldn’t stop yourself from going away, you shouldn’t force yourself to go mental and in turn completely forget your stomach. We must be kind to ourselves. For example, indulge in a few lovely meals and by all means enjoy the food, but don’t go overboard, and suffer the resulting stomach cramps/runs/insert-your-symptoms-here. If you know you can’t eat too much of something, then don’t. I am a hypocrite because I did this more than once on holiday, but again, I realised and checked myself and reminded myself to be kind to mr tummy, and went on a resulting gluten free restaurant search. Just play nice. It doesn’t hurt. People will understand if you go on this restaurant search frenzy too and will probably thank you for finding a really memorable place to eat.
Lastly – don’t do things you OUGHT to do. Do things you WANT to do. Don’t feel you have to visit the museums because everyone goes there. Don’t feel you have to go and visit THAT sight everyone takes a pic with (e.g. IAMSterdam lol)if you don’t want to. The less pressure you put on yourself, the more you’ll enjoy it. Sounds obvious I know, but it’s not to many people.
Bringing this post to a close, I want to thank mein Vati for a lovely trip, and remind all you IBS sufferers out there that travelling is possible even if your stomach is problematic. Just try and RELAXXXX, follow my tips, and everything is going to be fine; give you and your stomach a break. That’s what I did and I have come back feeling more positive and motivated as a result. Just enjoy it, as difficult as this is with IBS.
Next time, I’m going to talk about my story so far with IBS, and go into a little more detail about my IBS timeline. Until then, keep your tummies happy, and go on booking.com and don’t hestitate to book that next trip. You won’t regret.
P.S. The featured image is my new favourite holiday pic. Bet you can’t guess my dad took this after he had had far too many 2.50€ gins.