Don’t Eat That! How to Avoid Food Poisoning While Traveling

Don’t Eat That! How to Avoid Food Poisoning While Traveling, shutterstock:Patrick FotoI took a bite of a plate of various meats at a medieval festival in Portugal. At the time, it seemed like the right thing to do. I went into traveling around Portugal with the idea that I would be more adventurous with the foods I try. I was a cautious eater as I traveled, never wanting food poisoning to take away some of my travel days. I left Portugal with a parasite, most likely from that bite at the medieval festival. While it was nothing that some medicine couldn’t handle, it was still unpleasant to say the least. If you would rather not get a parasite or another food born illness as you travel, practice these food safety tips.

Avoid or be cautious of street food: Many travel articles will encourage you to eat at street food stands. While I have safely ordered food from street vendors, it can be a recipe for disaster. You need to be selective of your street food vendors. If there is a tried and tested stop, this is usually a safe bet. If you can avoid meat from the street vendor, you also stand a better chance of avoiding food poisoning. If you don’t want to run the risk, merely steer clear of consuming food off of the street.

Resist ordering meats and eggs if you are concerned: If you are worried about getting sick from your food while traveling, you don’t have to starve yourself on granola bars from home. Rather you can merely be mindful of what you are eating. Certain foods tend to induce food poisoning if they aren’t cooked enough. For example, many countries don’t have the same standards for cooking meats and poultry. If you are unsure about the establishment, it might be best to go vegetarian for this meal. Also eggs that aren’t cooked can also cause food poisoning. While that omelet bar at the hotel might look great, made to order and all, sometimes eggs for breakfast don’t start the traveling day off on the right foot. If you do have a long travel day ahead of you, the breakfast of champions might just be a croissant.

Drink bottled water or use a purifier: Most travelers know that a lot of food poisoning comes not from food but from the water that you drink. While in some countries it is safe to drink the tap water, in others it is never a good idea. So that you don’t have a dying of thirst moment and drink the water when you shouldn’t, do your research before you land. You should know all about what you want to see at your destination, but also if the water is or is not safe to drink. If it isn’t, stick to bottled water or use some sort of purifier.

If it looks suspect, don’t eat it: I learned my lesson in Portugal. That mysterious plate of meat looked suspect. However I thought I was just joining in on the local culture. All of the Portuguese around me appeared to have no problem with the strange meat dish. I knew it wasn’t right and yet I still went for it. These are the moments of your travels where you come to a health and sickness crossroads. Even if you are trying to be open to your destination and its food culture, sometimes you have to trust your intuition. If the meal before you looks suspect, put your fork down.

Have you gotten food poisoning while traveling?


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