No matter how careful of a traveler you are, at some point in your travels, you are bound to get struck down with a case of “Bali belly” or “Montezuma’s revenge”. These little bouts of intestinal dramas can range in severity from a slightly more urgent demand for the toilet to absolute debilitating, agonising pain. Don’t let these little mishaps keep you from enjoying your time abroad.
Have no fear. There are a few ways to avoid a case of the trots.
- Look for crowded restaurants. If a restaurant has a high turnover of clientele, that means that the food has less time to sit around and become laced with all types of intestinal nasties.
- Try to eat around normal meal times. If you are looking for somewhere to eat lunch at 4 in the afternoon, chances are, you will be served whatever has been sitting around since that morning that they haven’t gotten around to throwing out yet.
- Do not rush the cooks. If you try to rush them, more often than not, your food will not be properly cooked.
- Use common sense. If something looks or smells off, do not eat it. You will regret it later on.
If you take all of these precautions and still manage to catch a stomach bug, there are some measures that you can take to lessen the agony. Keep in mind that I am no doctor and am only writing from my own experience. If the symptoms are especially severe, get yourself medical attention immediately.
- Drink lots of water. This will help to keep you hydrated and help you feel better. It is a good idea to carry around some little sachets of re-hydrating salts to mix in with your water as well. They help immensely.
- Do not take medicines that will block you up completely. They will rob you of your ability to relieve yourself, but do nothing for the gut pains. These should only be used if you are about to embark on a very long journey where toilet facilities will be intermittent at best. Try gentler products like good old alka seltzer or charcoal tablets. They tend to take away a lot of the stabbing pains, but still let nature run its course.
- Try and eat something. It is the absolute last thing on earth that you will want to do, but try to force down a few dry crackers or something equally as bland. It goes without saying, but avoid heavy, greasy or spicy food.
- Invest in some good quality toilet paper or baby wipes. You will thank yourself later.
- Avoid alcohol for a few days after a bout. You are traveling and a beer would go down wonderfully with the sunset, but if you are just getting over a case of the runs, alcohol tends to bring them back with a vengeance. Take a few days off to let your body fix itself.
Hopefully, all of your travels will go smoothly, but if your guts do decide to throw you a curve ball, make sure that you take care of yourself. It is also important to try and laugh a little and don’t be embarrassed about it. You would be amazed at some of the hilarious tales of intestinal woes from other travelers. It’s funny how as soon as you leave home, these normally, quite private affairs become one of your favourite conversation topics.
Safe travels- the Essential Destination
Written by Joseph Ramsey for the Essential Destination