Top Health Concerns When Traveling Abroad Slideshow
Finding Safe Drinking Water
If you're traveling to a country with unsafe drinking water, there are a few ways to stay safe. The first and easiest way is to buy bottled water to use for everything from drinking to brushing your teeth. You can also boil water for at least 10 minutes or bring iodine tablets to purify it. Be wary of ice cubes used in drinks you consume while out and about, since they're likely made with the contaminated water. Find water safety information here.
Trying Street Foods
The underbelly of being an adventurous eater abroad is the potential for getting "traveler's diarrhea." As the most common travel illness, it ruins vacations more often than it has long-term harmful effects. If you have a sensitive stomach, be careful what you sample, avoid anything undercooked or raw, and be sure to ask if the dish you're salivating over is cooked with or near anything you're allergic to. Also, take a good look at the street stall you're sauntering up to. Does it look clean and well-maintained? Was it recommended by a local or someone in your hotel? If so, it's usually a tried-and-true safe vendor.
Be particularly aware of traveler's diarrhea in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia.
Shopping at Local Markets
Being careful with what you eat extends into buying foods from farmers markets and gourmet shops. Unpasteurized foods can wreak havoc on uninitiated stomachs and raw fruits and vegetables can often be washed in unsafe tap water. Buy fruits that you need to peel (and peel them yourself), skip buying raw shellfish, and avoid leafy vegetables and salads that have been washed in unsafe water or are uncooked.
Preventative Medications and Immunizations
It's important to keep in mind that preventative medications, like anti-malaria pills, can have their own side effects that can ruin a great vacation. You can pad your vacation with a few extra days in case of side effects or just take it easy and stay hydrated (i.e. avoid booze and coffee) should any come up. On the other hand, making sure to get immunizations before you travel can really help avoid issues while you're jet-setting.
Airline Health Issues
Everyone knows that airplanes dehydrate you, so making sure to drink water (not soda, alcohol, or coffee), is smart for kicking off a healthy vacation. Flying can also disrupt digestive health, so remember the advice we got a few months back to take two Gas-X chewables right after you board to keep your intestines from swelling and making you feel bloated. Then, bring healthful snacks with you to avoid getting sick before your holiday even starts from eating less-than-stellar airline meals.
Overindulging and traveling go hand in hand, so having a hangover on the road can be inevitable. But there are a few things you can do to ease (or even avoid) the pains. First, some hold that darker alcohols can cause a worse hangover than clear ones. Alternating water with cocktails or glasses of wine helps, too. Lastly, stay hydrated the next day and keep in mind that food safety may mean avoiding some of the greasy comfort foods you'd reach for at home.
Curing Traveler’s Illnesses
So, you ate tons of raw fruits and street foods. Don't say we didn't warn you, but there are a few things to do to get back on your feet, hopefully before you head home. First, drink tons of water and skip the electrolyte promises of sports drinks. Stay away from sugar and dairy, avoid greasy foods, and skip high-fiber dishes.
Click here to find out more about a new FDA-approved traveler's diarrhea drug.