One bad meal on vacation can ruin your whole trip.
When you’re traveling, you should pay careful attention to what you eat and drink – even more so than you normally do at home.
Here are some tips and tricks on how to eat healthy and affordably when traveling abroad.
Water, Water Everywhere and Not a Drop to Drink
… for you, that is. Natives can drink as much water as they want without getting sick, but it’s likely to keep you in the bathroom or put you in the hospital. Why is that?
Inside your intestines is a microscopic living environment containing microflora that responds to everything you eat and drink. Where you live in the world and what you ingest influences what your gut’s microflora consists of. In general, our gut contains the microflora we need to process what we ingest.
Each individual’s microflora is unique, and this internal environment can change over time.
When you travel abroad, your gut’s flora is not equipped to handle the microorganisms that appear naturally in that foreign land.
So while the natives’ gut flora may be able to handle the microorganisms in their water, to your gut, they are foreign invaders that create a hostile environment in your system.
This is why you need to avoid drinking local water while traveling.
Avoiding Water is Harder than You Think
Remember that food is cooked in water, and that can also get into your system and cause ills.
To avoid getting sick while traveling:
- Drink bottled and canned beverages whenever possible;
- Brush your teeth with bottled water;
- Choose fermented beverages, like beer or wine, over water;
- If you’re really parched and tap water is the only option, consider rinsing and spitting in private;
- For children traveling with you, pasteurized milk is a better option than water
Be Careful What You Eat Too
As the following article looks at, eating street food like the locals can be an exciting culinary adventure, and there’s no reason why you can’t join in, especially when you’ve gotten some good tips on saving money on food while traveling from fellow tourists. But make sure you get a good look at the cooking environment behind the scenes.
Open air “diners” often attract flying insects which can land and lay practically invisible eggs on food.
This food contamination can lead to serious illnesses like dysentery, which could land you in the hospital.
Try and choose places with a modicum of American hygiene standards.
Look for permanent establishments versus roadside stands, working kitchens with proper cleaning stations and wait staff with clean personal standards.
This isn’t being snobbish. This is merely a means of protecting that delicate balance of microorganisms that we discussed.
Were you to move abroad, your gut would eventually learn to handle the foreign organisms in the food where you live.
Rely on the Old Standbys
Practically anywhere you can go in the world today, you’ll be able to find processed food.
Whereas at home you would want to avoid relying on processed food because of the preservatives and additives among others, while traveling abroad, these can be appreciated.
Prepackaged bags of crackers, candy bars and dried meats, especially if they carry familiar brand names, are generally safe to eat while traveling abroad. The preservatives you rightfully eschew at home will probably keep you from getting sick in a foreign land.
Don’t be afraid to snack liberally on items such as these until you can get to a food establishment that appears to take hygiene seriously.
The more you travel and the longer you stay, the better your gut microflora will be able to handle the occasional microscopic foreign invader.
Until that happens, keep these food and drink considerations at the forefront of your dining needs.