Traveler’s diarrhea is a common condition that can disrupt work or leisurely travel. While certain destinations are more likely to give you traveler’s diarrhea, you can experience it in any new environment.
Typically, traveler’s diarrhea isn’t serious, but it can interrupt your time abroad and leave you feeling drained.
The good news is, there are some simple tips for avoiding traveler’s diarrhea during your next trip.
Quick Overview: What is Traveler’s Diarrhea?
You expose your body to new types of sanitary conditions, environmental factors, and climate when you travel abroad. This not only puts your immune system to the test but will often affect your digestion, resulting in diarrhea and GI (gastrointestinal) upset.
How Can I Be Sure I Have Traveler’s Diarrhea?
You may have traveler’s diarrhea if you have one of the following symptoms.
- Sudden onset of diarrhea (at least three loose or watery stools per day)
- Urgent need to go to the bathroom
- Abdominal cramps and pain
Usually, traveler’s diarrhea begins suddenly during a visit abroad. Depending on how long your trip is, you could very likely have repeating bouts, and each bout might last up to a week.
Tips for Avoiding Traveler’s Diarrhea?
Traveler’s diarrhea isn’t completely avoidable, but there are some general tips to keep in mind. Consider the following:
Choose Foods Carefully
A large part of experiencing local culture is through its culinary traditions, but it’s important to keep your health top of mind when traveling.
For example, while street vendors might offer delicious local fare, you run a risk of eating food that isn’t prepared to US standards. Make sure to choose foods that look fresh, are well cooked, and served hot. Avoid raw or undercooked meats and seafood, and be wary of food that has been sitting out.
Get Local Recommendations
If you are staying in a hotel, the concierge may be able to point you in the right direction to the safest eateries.
If you are staying in hostels, consult online user reviews before choosing a place to eat, as users will post about negative dining experiences.
Properly Prepare High-Risk Foods
When preparing your meals, purchase vegetables and fruits that can be peeled (bananas, oranges, potatoes, etc.), and avoid leafy greens like lettuce and unpeelable fruits and veggies. Fruit with skin offers a protective layer that keeps their contents fresher.
Regarding cooking prep, opt for foods that can not only be peeled but also boiled or cooked well. Avoid raw vegetables (especially those that don’t have a peel).
Stick to Bottled Drinking Water
Even if you see locals drinking the water, it’s a good idea to avoid it on your vacation. Countries have different water filtration regulations, and despite being clean and healthy for their citizens, your body may not be accustomed.
In the same vein, avoid cooling drinks down with ice made tap water. Also, keep your mouth closed when you shower and wash your dishes and foods in bottled water.
If you anticipate limited bottled water, consider investing in a portable water filter/pump to bring on your travels.
Wash Your Hands Frequently
Frequently washing your hands can also help you avoid traveler’s diarrhea. Be sure to wash before and after meals, and carry a bottle of alcohol-based hand sanitizer with you for occasions when washing isn’t possible.
Prepare for your trip ahead of departure by promoting a healthy digestive tract. Foods or supplements containing probiotics are good things to consume before leaving for your trip.
Another product to pick up before takeoff is DiaResQ, a food for special dietary use, that delivers important nutrients to promote digestive health and rapidly support normal function.
By understanding these tips for avoiding traveler’s diarrhea, you can be as prepared as possible for safe and healthy travels. Safe travels!
If your traveler’s diarrhea persists for more than three days, you should see a doctor or healthcare practitioner to prevent dehydration or other possible complications.