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While travelling one thing that you are constantly at risk from is illness, whether it be a virus passed around by fellow travellers or bad bacteria picked up in the local food or water.

Having spent the last 3 days in bed with a rather nasty bout of food poisoning I thought I would have a look at basic precautions that are recommended when travelling.


When on the road, just as it makes sense to know troubled areas of a country to avoid, you should be aware of the signs of a dangerous place to dine.

For many travellers the thought of picking something up from bad food or contaminated water can be a rather overwhelming distraction from an otherwise well planned trip. Go with your gut feeling (no pun intended) if somewhere looks unsanitary, don’t eat there.

Unfortunately backpacker’s hoping to steer clear of the tourist trail are more at risk of eating a bad meal. The fact is that the local population have been exposed to a whole range of micro-organisms and parasites in their environment their whole lives, your resistance however is likely to be minimal.

With little or no regulation of restaurants in many developing countries it is possible that hygiene standards are not comparable to those at home, be aware of this when you choose where and what to eat.

Below are some tips I have picked up, and trust me, having experienced the effects of bad food once this trip I will be following these to the letter to avoid a re occurrence.

  •  Eat smaller portions – less of any potential bacteria to enter your system at once
  • In countries where you are advised to avoid the water also decline salads, ice in drinks and any raw veg of fruit that does not have a protective peal which you can remove yourself.
  • Avoid unpasteurized milk and other dairy products such as cheese, yoghurt etc. If you are being pedantic avoid all dairy products while travelling since pasteurized milk can become re-contaminated in the bottling or packaging process or there may be storage temperature issues, etc.
  • Avoid any raw egg products or sauces, or any raw or partially cooked meat and seafood products.  Also do not purchase cooked or processed food that has been allowed to sit in holding units.
  • Washing your hands is even more important in a strange land than at home because of the possibility of picking up microbes that you have never been exposed to. Carry alcohol wipes, or liquid alcohol (at least 60% alcohol concentration), or alcohol-based hand sanitizers with a concentration of 60% to 95% ethanol or isopropanol, to clean your hands with if running water and soap are not available.
  • Consult your Doctor to ensure you have the recommended vaccinations and are aware of any outbreaks in the areas you plan to visit. Search the web before you leave for travel tips and advice for your chosen destinations.

While sticking to these guidelines will reduce your risk none of the above is a 100% guarantee, however the inherent risks of food poisoning while travelling can be managed and minimized with proactive and precautionary measures and awareness.

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Do you have any tips for maintaining good health when you travel abroad? Share them with me below.

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