Traveling for the first time can be an exciting adventure filled with new experiences and memories. Exploring new destinations, trying interesting cuisines and immersing yourself in unfamiliar cultures can be exhilarating. However, it’s important to remember that when it comes to drinks, it could make or break your trip. While trying local beverages is part of the journey, there are some drinks you should try to avoid if you want your holiday to go smoothly.
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What Is Traveler’s Sickness? – rephrase
Traveler’s sickness, also known as traveler’s diarrhea, is a common digestive illness that can strike when you least expect it – putting your vacation at a standstill. This uncomfortable and sometimes debilitating condition is often caused by consuming contaminated food or beverages, including drinks prepared with unsafe water or through unsanitary practices. Symptoms can range from mild stomach discomfort to more severe instances of diarrhea and vomiting.
The unfamiliar bacteria and pathogens found in local water sources and improperly prepared drinks can wreak havoc on your digestive system, potentially leading to days of discomfort and inconvenience. Traveler’s sickness occurs in 30 to 70% of tourists, depending on the location and season. To protect your health and make the most of your trip, you must be cautious about the drinks you consume and take proactive steps to minimize the risk of contracting traveler’s sickness.
Certain countries pose a higher risk due to varying sanitation standards and local water quality. It’s more common to contract traveler’s sickness in developing countries. When visiting these destinations, exercise extra caution when it comes to the drinks you consume to ensure a healthy trip:
- South Asia and Southeast Asia
- South America
- Central America
- The Middle East
What Not to Drink While Traveling
The main culprit when it comes to stomach issues is tap water. While in some countries, tap water is safe to drink, in others, it might be contaminated with bacteria or parasites your body isn’t accustomed to. Opt for bottled water or beverages prepared with boiled or purified water to avoid potential risks.
While you might be careful about avoiding tap water, it’s easy to overlook the ice added to your drinks. Ice cubes are made from tap water in many places, so it’s best to ask for beverages without ice or confirm the ice is made from safe, purified water.
Street Vendor Juices
Sampling the local street food is an exciting and tempting experience, but be cautious about street vendor juices. These juices might be made with tap water or even unwashed fruits, which can lead to stomach issues. If you’re craving fruit juices, go for packaged options or visit a supermarket.
Unpasteurized Dairy Products
While dairy products like milk, cheese and yogurt are staples in many cuisines, checking if they’re pasteurized is essential. Unpasteurized dairy can carry harmful bacteria that your stomach might not be prepared to handle. Choose dairy products from reputable sources or opt for dairy-free alternatives.
Juices or Cocktails with Garnishes
If a drink comes garnished with fruit or herbs, ensure they’ve been properly washed. Unwashed garnishes can carry contaminants that might not be suited to your digestive system.
Fountain drinks from fast-food joints or local restaurants seem convenient, but they’re often mixed using tap water. This includes soda and other carbonated beverages generally made by mixing syrups and carbonated water.
How to Avoid Getting Sick on Vacation
- Choose Bottled Water: Opt for sealed bottled water that has gone through the purification process instead of tap water when drinking, brushing your teeth or washing fruit.
- Boil or Purify Water: If you’re uncertain about the water quality, consider boiling or purifying it before drinking.
- Carry Sanitizer: Pack an alcohol-based sanitizer and clean your hands before eating and drinking, especially at restaurants and after touching things.
- Peel Your Fruits: When enjoying fresh fruit, choose options that you can peel yourself to minimize the risk of drinking contaminants.
- Select Reputable Establishments: Stick to well-reviewed restaurants, cafes or hotels with a reputation for maintaining high hygiene standards.
- Stay Hydrated: Drink plenty of safe, clean water throughout your vacation to keep your body hydrated and support your immune system. Keeping some rehydration salts on hand can also be beneficial in case you experience mild traveler’s sickness.
- Close Your Mouth: Avoid accidentally swallowing water in the shower or while swimming by keeping your mouth closed.
- Choose Cooked Foods: Go for cooked foods rather than fresh salads or room temperature foods, as these are likely to carry bacteria or be rinsed using contaminated water.
Stay Healthy on Your Travels
As you embark on your first travel adventure, remember these tips to avoid any holiday mishaps. No one wants to get sick on holiday, but by steering clear of tap water and keeping on top of hygiene standards, you can navigate your first travels with ease and confidence. Prioritizing your health doesn’t mean missing out on tasty food and cultural experiences – you just need to know what not to drink while traveling.