Having travelled to places like India, Central America, and South East Asia, one of the first questions we get asked by others is “did you get sick?”
While we’ve had our share of colds and upset stomachs, we’ve never experienced any major illnesses or had to hug the porcelain bowl (knock on wood).
We’ve found that there are a few general principles that help you stay healthy while wandering the world.
1) When on doubt, keep cold out
If you want to indulge in some street fare and aren’t sure if it’s sanitary, keep to the hot items. Heat kills a whole lot of bacteria and anything that is piping hot will be leas likely to be hazardous to your health.
This principle is also true of beverages. If you’re ever in doubt of a place’s cleanliness, get a sealed drink (e.g., canned or bottled beverage) and skip the glass and ice cubes.
2) Don’t be loco, eat with the locals
Where to eat is a daily question for travellers and our best advice is to follow the locals. The establishments/street stands packed with locals will most likely be tasty and sanitary. Strike up a conversation with a local and ask for their favourite spots or simply peek into restaurant windows and pick the one that’s well patronized.
3) Soap and water, make sure you lather
Wash your hands well and often. It’s simple and it works. Those antibacterial gels also work well when soap and clean water aren’t readily available.
4) Fruits with peel, easy meal
I love fruits but am wary of the pre-cut fruits being sold by street vendors. You don’t know how clean their knives and cutting boards are.
Buy your own fruit from the market and peel or cut them yourself. Stick with those with a good peel (oranges, bananas, mangoes, etc.) which keep the yummy flesh inside nice and clean.
5) Water from bottle if tap seems trouble
In Europe and Australia we drank tap water with no issues and this will most likely be true of all major western nations you travel to. In South East Asia, India, and Central America, however, we never drank tap water and neither should you. The easiest way to get sick is to drink unclean water so stick with bottled if you’re not sure.
There are also [amazon_link id="B003A1MURC" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]UV wands that other travellers have used to sanitize water[/amazon_link] with success but we haven’t tried them yet. If it works, it is certainly a more environmentally friendly way to go as the world would benefit from less plastic bottles in landfills.
6) See the doc before you embark
Before you head out on your trip, go to a travel clinic or your family physician and get vaccinated. The doctor will know which diseases you should be vaccinated for based on your destination(s).
How do you keep healthy on the road? Any good tips we’ve missed?