Traveling can be fun and adventurous at the best of times; however, if you are not careful it can also be an unpleasant experience. Our immune system may not be familiar with some foreign bacteria and other types of germs that we encounter while traveling abroad. And hygiene in other countries may not be at the same standard as what we are used to. So it’s best to try and control the situation the best we can on our own.
I once developed food poisoning on a 24-hour bus ride from Estonia to Poland. A lot of the patrons on the bus were drinking vodka, and the bus ride was very rocky. The smell of the alcohol combined with the motion of the bus and food poisoning made this the worst bus ride of my life. I wish somebody told me some of these travel tips back then. Perhaps I could have prevented the situation. However, there is no time better than the present! So let’s get started!
1. Drink Bottled Water.
Bottled water is usually widely available and sold at a reasonable price everywhere. Most countries sell regular water or water with gas. Water with gas is water that has carbonation. You can usually tell if a bottle of water has gas if it is hard when you squeeze it, or if it is fizzy like soda pop. Both will keep you hydrated.
Take caution if you are buying water in India. Make sure that the cap of the bottle is still sealed. Sometimes vendors will refill old bottles with tap water and try to sell them as new.
2. Wash Any Fruit Or Vegetables With Bottled Or Treated Water.
You can use water purification tablets to make your water safe to drink or to clean your food. I still prefer buying bottled water in most countries. The tablets will only protect you from the bacteria in the water. Tap water may contain harmful chemicals or other contaminants that will require a filter to make it safe.
3. Read Restaurant Reviews.
You can usually see what a restaurant’s quality standards are like by reading reviews on Trip Advisor and other restaurant websites.
4. Street Food.
If you are going to try the food sold by street vendors, try and find the place with the biggest line-up of local people. A place with a long line of locals can tell you a lot about the quality of care taken to prepare the food. If the locals are lining up for the food, then the standards must be high, and you can also bet that it will be good!
Bring medication for travelers diarrhea from home, and make sure you have it in your carry-on bag so it’s always handy. The medication will not help you very much if you start to get sick on a long journey and it’s in your checked baggage. I like to travel light so I always get my Pharmacist to print off some extra labels so I can put my travel medication into small bags.
If you don’t mind taking vaccinations, there is a great one for traveler’s diarrhea called Dukoral. It is taken orally in two dosages and cost around $100USD. I received the treatment a few years ago before a five-month trip to India. I didn’t have many stomach problems during that entire trip, and even now I don’t have any major problems. I am sure this vaccination won’t work for all bacteria, but I’m convinced that it saved me from getting sick a few times.
7. Keep Your Hands Clean.
You cannot always rely on having soap available at restaurants and other public places. So it ‘s nice to have a small bottle of hand sanitizer or some soap strips on you. You can buy these handy little soap sheets at hiking stores.
8. Vegetarian Option.
If you are going on an excursion or some adventure tour for the day or longer that includes food, it may be safer to choose the vegetarian option if there is one available. I had had better luck when I made this choice over the years.
I’m not saying that vegetarian food is guaranteed to be safer. However, I can say that I have been on two different day tours in the past where everyone was sick except for the people who ordered the vegetarian food. Maybe it was just the luck of the draw. But one thing is for sure if you choose the vegetarian meal you can avoid your odds of getting a mystery meat on your plate. 🙂
What I Do If I Get Sick.
I cannot stress this enough, buy travel insurance before you leave home! You just never know what kind of trouble you can get yourself into when you’re abroad. You cannot assume that medical expenses are cheap in a developing country. You may find it to be the complete opposite.
If you are sick, you can usually figure out how to get medical help through your hotel or hostel. If you have medication for travelers diarrhea from home, then you can follow the directions that your Doctor or Pharmacist-provided for you.
If I get stomach problems or travel’s diarrhea, I usually book a few extra nights in the same hotel or hostel. I will try just to sleep and drink lots of water for a few days or until I get my energy back. Everybody reacts in a different way to food poisoning so I can only tell you how I deal with this situation.
If it’s your first time traveling, you may want to attend a travel seminar with a Pharmacist. A lot of pharmacies put these workshops on a few times a month. Participating in a travel seminar will make you more prepared to deal with an illness and to familiarize you with symptoms of travel sickness. And hopefully, you will have a better idea of what to do if something does occur.
The information I provided is just a basic guideline that I use to try and prevent travel sickness. I encourage you to consult with your family doctor before you go on your trip for preventative tips and to get some travel medication to bring with you. It would be better to do this 2 or 3 months before your trip because your doctor may want to give you a series of vaccinations before you go.
If you have any questions on this subject, just send me an e-mail at email@example.com or leave a comment below, and I will get back to you as soon as I can.
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