Travel Stress Poops

Yellow door opened into bathrooms with sinks of a nursery
Yellow door opened into bathrooms with sinks of a nursery

Whenever my husband and I are on a road trip, this same scene plays out. We will be on the highway, close to a rest area, and my husband will ask if I need to stop. "Nope," I say. "All good." So, we drive past the rest area, and its mostly clean toilets and head on down the highway. A few miles down the road, there's usually a sign that says, "No restrooms for the next 100 miles" or something like that. Instantly, Anxiety and IBS, start talking to me. "You have to GO now," they tell me while pinching my lower abdomen. I start to panic, knowing there is no bathroom for MILES. I'm never certain if I'm panicking because I have to poop, or if I have to poop because I'm panicking. This is kind of like that chicken and egg question. Which comes first -- anxiety or IBS? Or do they just arrive together like a coked up celebrity couple at a B-rate awards ceremony?

Over winter break, we traveled to Southern California AKA where I want to die some day. Lucky for me, that was not a road trip because it would've been a hella long trip with A LOT of poop anxiety between rest stops. Unlucky for me, it did include air travel, which is in Dante's third circle of hell, I believe. Flying causes me all sorts of shakiness and intestinal cramping not only because I hate being WAY UP HIGH, but I also hate being smooshed next to strangers. Seriously, I'm five foot nothing and a size 8/10. I'm not huge, and I feel claustrophobic. The seats really are getting smaller. And so is the bathroom. How do bigger people even enter the bathroom? It is SO TINY. So, of course, I get super nervous and worry about the possibility of having to poop in it. Therefore, I get the poop cramps as soon as I fasten my seatbelt.

Usually, after I get off the plane, I don't have travel anxiety except for if we are doing something that makes me worry about being away from a clean, flushable toilet. So, hiking, camping, and crowded theme parks require medication. Also, as I learned in California, getting into a cable car and going two miles up a mountain will bring on the stress poops.

In my husband's defense, he did ask me if I would be ok with riding in said cable car before he booked it. And I said yes. I was probably drunk at the time. No, I don't need an AA meeting. I'm not drunk often, but I would have had to have been drunk to agree to that. Anyway, on our way to the cable car it suddenly hit me. We were about to get in a cable car, with lots of strangers, and ride on WIRES up a mountain. "Pull over. Go to Panera. NOW!" I said as we were on our way to the murderous wire ride. My husband knew from the tone of my voice that I wasn't craving soup in a bread bowl. I had stress diarrhea while someone's little kid looked at me from under the door. WHY do little kids do that?

As soon as I got back in the car, I dug in my purse for an Ativan and swallowed it dry. I should have taken it sooner. Unfortunately, it did not kick in until the cable car was halfway up the mountain. Before we got on the car, we were asked to smile for the camera for an expensive touristy picture. My husband smiled a real, genuine, this is so cool smile. I gave the tense grin of death. I KNEW I was about to die and I felt like I had to poop. AGAIN.

I made it to the top of the mountain without pooping. I'm sure the other people in the cable car would be thankful for this if they knew how close they had come to riding in a toilet. Once we got to the top, we had a nice dinner and some much needed wine. The ride back down was not as scary because Ativan and wine. No, I did not have A LOT of wine. I wouldn't do this whole cable car up the mountain thing again, but at least now I know it will not kill me.

So, what about you? Any other people who get anxious about travel? If so, do you get the stress poops, too?