Tips to Reduce Travel Bloat During a Long Flight

What’s the secret to reduce travel bloat? You know the feeling. About 3 hours into your cross-country or transatlantic flight, your shoes start feeling a bit tight.

Your jeans are cutting into your belly, and your rings are stuck on your fingers, which now look like little sausages. It’s the dreaded bloat of long flights.

In 2006, a passenger on an American Airlines flight forced the plane to make an emergency landing because how she dealt with her flatulence! You do NOT want to be that person.

ALSO READ: Fresh airport salads to try on your next trip

Yes, people will stare. But do you care? You’ll feel better when you board that plane.

Besides, you may convert a fellow traveler or two. Soon, we’ll be complaining not about the delays, but that all the travelators are taken.

To get to the bottom of how you can avoid being bloated like a sausage on your flight, it’s important to understand why it happens in the first place. There are a few different mechanisms at work.

First, it’s about air pressure. As the plane ascends, the air pressure drops. This drop in air pressure causes gasses to expand. Gasses in your stomach, gasses in your intestine…*toot!* You know what happens next!

A Danish study has even reviewed the causes of bloating and flatulence on flights. It’s that prevalent.

Next, the food you eat comes into play. When people travel, they tend to be in ‘vacation mode.’ This mindset often starts at the airport, where travelers choose salty, fatty foods to eat before and during their flights.

Too bad that being in an airplane at 30,000 feet tends to slow down your digestive tract. That leaves your greasy snack in your gut for a lot longer, hanging out and making you feel heavy and sluggish.

The copious amounts of salt in your meal also promote water retention, which is why you can’t get your rings off by the time you finish watching that awful movie.

Tips to Reduce Travel Bloat During a Long Flight

1.Avoid carbonated beverages – anything carbonated puts more gas into your system. Bad idea. Tomato juice is another in-flight favorite, but it’s super salty. Avoid.

Also, the wine and cocktails! Alcohol dehydrates your already flight-dehydrated body and can cause rebound bloating, plus everyone knows that drink hits you harder in the air. I don’t want to be reading about you on Passenger Shaming. So save the cocktails for your destination, okay?

ALSO READ: How to Avoid Flying Drunk: It’s a Crime & Airport Jail Sucks Big Time

Choose: Lots of water to help reduce travel bloat. Coffee is excellent too but can be dehydrating if you drink a lot of it.  Fennel tea is fantastic for intestinal gas and bloating, so you can bring some fennel tea bags with you and add hot water on the flight.

2.Avoid sugarless gums, and other foods containing the sugar alcohols xylitol, sorbitol, and erythritol – these are sweet going down, but the bloating and gas they can cause will not be worth it.

Choose: If you’re worried about bad breath, pack portable brushes like Colgate® Wisp. The occasional piece of sugary gum isn’t going to kill you, but sugar breeds bacteria and can make your breath even worse. I also like Altoids, which have sugar but are so high, you only need 1 or 2.

3.Avoid Anything fatty or salty this includes most unhealthy airport food, but there are exceptions. Try bringing food in your carry-on or scoping out the airport online in advance to identify healthier options where the foods below are likely to be available.

Choose: Light travel snacks – Vegetable sticks with hummus, fresh fruit, raw almonds, hemp hearts. And CLIF Mojo bars are examples of portable, healthy meals that won’t cause bloat.

ALSO READ: Healthy Airport Food Finds to Check Out on Your Next Trip

Happy Travels!


UPDATED: April 4, 2018


Abby Langer

Registered Dietican, Brand Ambassador, Consultant,

  1. Yes, it’s true. It all goes down to the kind of food we eat. When I travel I always avoid eating too much and try to bring light snacks if I happen to feel hungry. I have motion sickness so sometimes I won’t even eat a meal and just have biscuits. Bloating is always a bother it makes you feel like a sick person. Well, thanks for sharing this and for the tips too. Here’s another article for your readers

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