If You Have Trouble Pooping on Vacation, There’s a Scientific Reason Why
I will preface this conversation with this confession. I am an incredibly potty-shy person. I will go #1 anywhere, but I will NOT unleash a #2 in a public restroom. I absolutely refuse. Since 1997, these cheeks have only been on public porcelain twice. Yes, I am comfortable enough to discuss it now, but you should know that I only barely survived the trauma.
In the summer of '97, I was forced to drop trou at a Jewish Community Center in downtown Los Angeles, California. I was co-running a summer theatre camp in San Diego and we took the kids on a big excursion to L.A. and Six Flags Magic Mountain north of it. I was in dire straits and couldn't hold it any longer. We had been gone for a couple of days and I was ready to explode. Though it was completely mortifying, I was finally able to perform under the immense pressure that was both mental and gastrointestinal. I went into a stall in the restroom, locked the door, sat down and tried to will myself into a purge.
Now, the last time these cheeks were on public porcelain was in the summer of 2021- just a couple of years ago. And, yes! That instance was also travel-related. I had flown from Nairobi, Kenya to Paris, France and I was basically doubling over inside Charles de Gaulle Airport. I have a strict "morning constitution" ritual. This colon's like clockwork. I have programmed my body to take a dump first thing in the morning. Because we left Kenya at midnight, "first thing in the morning" was about the time we landed in Paris. Luckily, because I can't handle the thought of ripping gigantic flatulent noises in the presence of another human being, I was able to find a private "family" restroom at the end of the terminal. I holed up in there, power-cleaned the toilet seat, put about seven seat protectors on it and let 'er rip.
See, my issue isn't going to the restroom on vacation. No! It's finding a comfortable place to do it. I can go in the private confines of a hotel room. I just can't go when there's an audience or the room I am in is particularly percussive.
That's my personal testimony. Now, pay very close attention to this photo.
That's me on the left. Notice that I look happy and am smiling from ear to ear. That's Kevin on the right. He's smiling a bit too, but you can easily tell that it seems a little forced. There's a significant reason why. He hadn't popped in ten days.
Kevin, and I am not sure I realized this until this particular Christmas and New Year's trip to Italy, apparently NEVER poops on vacation. It's not the he doesn't want to. He can't. When he informed me that he hadn't dropped the kids off at the pool since we left Kentucky on December 21st, I was floored. I mean, we have a nice hotel room. Go in there, lock the door and drop your bomb? How hard is it?
Apparently for Kevin and folks like him, it's not only difficult. It may be biologically improbable. Kevin quickly informed me that he has VIC- Vacation-Induced Constipation. He then sent me the link to a story he saw from Men's Health. As it turns out, VIC is real and a lot of people suffer from it and there are a variety of alleged causes for it: stress, disruption to your "regular" schedule and your circadian rhythm, changes in your eating and drinking habits, alcohol consumption (because it dehydrates you) and others.
The Doctors even tackled this topic on their show.
There's good news though. However, I must tell you that Kevin didn't find the holy grail of solutions during our trip. He didn't get to jar one loose until we got back to the United States. He went almost two weeks without going. My bowels would have exploded and there would have been a mushroom cloud over Hotel Raffaelo and the Colosseum.
If you suffer from VIC, here are some things you can do to combat it.
So, there you go. Well, actually, maybe you don't go. Or you can't go. But, at least you know that if you have vacation-induced constipation, there are a few things you can do to jar one loose. If you're going to be globe-trotting, try them . . . and maybe you'll be able to have a good trot on your trip.