How to not get sick while travelling

Unfortunately a common side-effect of travelling is feeling ‘not quite right’. You may be very unlucky and actually get sick far from home. That means a trip to the doctor and is not what this post is about. This post is just my guide on how to avoid feeling a bit ropey on the road. Many things can cause this such as a change in climate or more commonly a change in diet.

Here’s how to stay healthy while travelling.

1. Drink enough water

We spend our lives being told that it is essential we drink enough water and nowhere is this more true than in warm climates. Getting dehydrated is a very bad idea indeed. Water is drunk everywhere so is always available. Remember to drink bottled water if tap water is not safe to drink locally. Even in places where tap water is considered safe to drink it can have a different mineral content to that which your body is used to. So unless you are going to be there a while and will have time to adjust, it’s still probably better to drink bottled water.

2. Coca-cola

Yes, you read it right. Coca-cola is magic stuff. I don’t know what is in it that gives it these properties, but if you have a delicate stomach then drinking a bit of coca-cola while your body gets used to a new climate / cuisine / diet should make the experience a little easier.

3. Avoid ice

Ice is the secret weapon of tummy upsets. Did you make your own ice and take it with you to the bar? No of course you didn’t. Who would do that? My point is that you don’t know what sort of water that ice was made with. It might be lovely clean bottled water, but it might not. Dodgy ice 1: You 0.

4. Go easy on the alcohol

It is the thing nobody wants to hear I know. If you’re travelling you’re probably not getting up for work tomorrow so it is easy to over indulge on the booze front. Just remember that if you are partaking in a new tipple that you are not familiar with each other yet. Alcohol can hit you harder than it does at home, so my advice is to learn what your limits are before you push them.

5. Avoid dairy desserts in hot countries

Are you the sort who can’t resist a cream cake? I don’t know quite why but dairy-based puddings can be dangerous, especially in warmer climates. Perhaps it is simply a case of inadequate refrigeration in warm climates turning them against us. Whatever it is, approach with caution.

6. Trust your gut feeling

If the smell or the sight of something concerns you, or even makes you want to retch then eating it is most likely a risky endeavour. If the thought of eating something is going to disturb you, be it for moral reasons or just because you think it is revolting, don’t put yourself through that. Trust your instincts.

7. Wash your hands frequently

Grubby hands carry all sorts of germs, so especially in countries where it is common to eat using your hands, wash your own hands as frequently as possible. Even if not eating with your hands, if your hands are often around your face (do you rub your eyes a lot? Do you pick your teeth? Delightful.) then you should keep them as clean as possible.

8. Remedy

If all else fails and you do end up with Delhi belly go to a pharmacy for stoppers, or better still, send someone on your behalf while you hug the toilet. Don’t worry if you don’t speak the language. A charade-style effort should get you there (leave your pride behind). In most tourist areas the pharmacists know what you are there for as soon as you walk in anyway I suspect. And in the meantime a strict diet of plain bread and water (and a little coca-cola if you can) should keep you sustained while the infliction passes.

Incidentally, please don’t think I intend to discourage you from trying new things. One of the great things you can discover overseas is the huge variety of tasty food and drink the world has to offer. I’m just aware that a lot of people suffer from tummy travel while travelling so thought I’d share some of my tricks.

Photo credit: Foomandoonian


  • Matt

    Coca Cola is certainly magical stuff!

    1. In many states (in the USA) the highway patrol carries two gallons of
    Coke in the truck to remove blood from the highway after a car accident

    2. You can put a T-bone steak in a bowl of Coke and it will be gone in
    two days (meat will completely dissolve).

    3. To clean a toilet: Pour a can of Coca-Cola into the toilet bowl and
    let the “real thing” sit for one hour, then flush clean.

    4. To remove rust spots from chrome car bumpers: Rub the bumper with a
    rumpled-up piece of Reynolds Wrap aluminium foil dipped in Coca-Cola.

    5. To clean corrosion from car battery terminals: Pour a can of
    Coca-Cola over the terminals to bubble away the corrosion.

    6. To loosen a rusted bolt: Applying a cloth soaked in Coca-Cola to the
    rusted bolt for several minutes.

    7. To remove grease from clothes: Empty a can of coke into a load of
    greasy clothes, add detergent, and run through a regular cycle.

    8. To carry Coca-Cola syrup (the concentrate) the commercial truck must
    use the Hazardous Material place cards reserved for Highly corrosive

    9. The distributors of coke have been using it to clean the engines of
    their trucks for about 20 years!

    I agree with your other points though. 🙂
    My recent post VIDEO- Expedition to the Moon

  • jill

    Coca cola is magical indeed. We do the same thing with sprite to settle dodgy stomachs. Wonder if all you need is actually just carbonated _anything_

    Regardless, love the tips. Not drinking enough water is sooo easy to do when you’re on the road. We have to keep reminding ourselves to take some water bottles with us. If we don’t have them handy, we just simply don’t drink enough.
    My recent post Backpacking Denali – 7 Memorable Mistakes We Made

  • The World Wanderer

    Great tips! Though, agreed, drinking enough water is easier said than done, especially when traveling by bus when you have no control of when you’ll be allowed to use the bathroom. That being said, if you follow these tips, you really should feel alright! 🙂
    My recent post Saying Good-bye.

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