If you are planning a trip abroad, you will I am sure want to avoid the classic scenario of going down with a stomach bug after 2 or 3 days into a 2 week holiday. Some countries worldwide are more likely to give you problems than others but wherever you travel to, there are certain guidelines you can keep to and which might help you a lot.
Ice and water can be one of the biggest problems and causes of stomach bugs when abroad. Without mentioning the country (so you do not bombard with me complaints if you are from the country involved) I learned the hard way (as did everyone I travelled with on this specific trip) because of how they used ice. A few days after going down with a terrible stomach bug, I saw the huge blocks of ice being delivered to restaurants, with the ice blocks left on the dirty pavements outside the restaurant (we are talking blocks about a metre long in size). This same ice was used in the restaurants in the drinks and this is where I am sure I was caught out. I no longer ignore the idea of avoiding ice in drinks and in salads when abroad. Salads are best avoided given that they are washed in water (if washed at all) using local water which can often be infected with diseases. It is best to avoid ice and items that will have been washed by local water supplies (if in a country where the quality of the water can be a concern). Cholera can be caused by drinking polluted water, hence bottled water is essential when travelling to certain locations.
One great way to lower the chances of stomach problems and to avoid the chances of food poisoning is to eat fruit which you can peel, rather than fruit which you cannot. Peeling the fruit yourself means that you know the inside of the fruit is untouched and should generally be unaffected by any disease. Such fruits do not need washing and are a great option for eating well and healthily abroad. Never before have bananas be looked upon so favourable! Apples are good in that you can peel them, as are kiwis, oranges and numerous other fruits.
Avoiding dairy products such as ice cream can be a very good idea if possible. Try and avoid the temptation of ice cream and you will avoid the problems that can occur because of poor refrigeration. You should be fine to eat ice-cream in developed countries such as Italy, UK and Germany for example. In countries where you feel that hygiene might be taken less seriously, then do consider avoiding dairy products. It would almost be criminal not to try an ice-cream if you are visiting a city such as Rome in Italy. The key is common-sense and take into consideration what country you are visiting.
There are no specific rules but fish is known to be a food which if not cooked properly, can easily cause you problems. I personally avoid chicken when I eat out abroad, having seen chicken not properly cooked in too many places. Spicy foods are fine to eat abroad but do consider that if your system is not used to these spices, they might cause you problems. Maybe gradually let your body become accustomed to the spices if you are spending any length of time abroad. Sometimes it is not the food itself which is the problem but our own intolerance to foods our stomachs are simply not used to.
A surprisingly simple yet interesting idea is to use the Internet and search for reviews of the restaurant you plan to eat in on a given night, whilst on holiday. Internet access is continually becoming more and more accessible whilst abroad and if you know the name of the restaurant you are thinking of eating in that evening, why not do a quick Google search. Search by using the word ‘Review’ and the restaurant name i.e.
Review + Restaurant name here
as your search term. If the restaurant has a bad reputation, you will very quickly find out and this includes bad reviews because of hygiene. I tend to ignore the bottom 20% of reviews and the top 20% of reviews. Take the review in the middle as being the most accurate because it is not unknown for employees or owners of a restaurant to write some of their own great reviews and for competitors to write bad reviews.
Keeping hydrated whilst travelling is another important factor and which can make a sensitive stomach worse. The temptation to let oneself go and drink too much alcohol, coffee in the airports and travel hubs and generally to not drink enough water and liquids which hydrate rather than dehydrate us, can be a problem when travelling. try and travel with a bottle of water, especially when going out on day excursions in hot locations.
I do not want to give anyone a lecture on washing hands and general hygiene. In terms of travelling though to a location where there is an extra risk of catching a stomach bug, washing your hands frequently and taking some basic hygiene steps can be enough to make difference. This is where your bottle of water that you carry in your small day trip backpack can come in very useful. The water can be used both for hydration or for washing your hands when needed. make sure also to carry a small pack of Kleenex of something similar for wiping surfaces as needed. I do not want to overdue the hygiene advice so I think enough has been said. I do wish you a safe and health free holiday!
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