A trip to another country can be one of the most exciting experiences of our lives and we should not leave free will anything that could ruin the occasion for us. We must bear in mind that problems like ‘tourist diarrhoea’ or certain sicknesses can ruin our adventure, so here we leave some tips about how and what to eat when travelling.
Before the trip
‘Prevention is better than cure’; this classic popular Spanish proverb it says it all. Before beginning the trip, you must learn about the particularities of your destination. Your travel agencies will be a lot of help in this aspect, but you can also consult the Ministry of Foreign Affairs page (for example here is Spain’s Government’s page). There, you will find all that you need to know about vaccinations, diseases in the country and travelling tips.
And while we being cautious, do you have a mini-kit for little emergencies? The typical plasters, anti-diarrhea tablets, any sachet to prepare isotonic saline and detoxifier, ibuprofen, paracetamol and disinfectant. It is not a question of bringing Dr House’s entire suitcase, but if we organise ourselves well, we’ll be able to prepare for any eventuality with a kit that will take up little space in our luggage.
Thirsty? Yes. Virus? No!
Water is one of the most treacherous elements when it comes to trips abroad, especially if you are going to tropical countries or countries with few resources. Many of them don’t have a filtered public water-supply network which is submitted to chlorination processes. The result is obvious: for our digestive systems poor water is a time bomb and is the first cause of contamination for travellers. So we have to take some things into account when it comes to water consumption:
- Don’t question it, always drink bottled water and make sure the bottle you get is sealed.
- Don’t accept ice in drinks, unless you are completely sure that is it made with drinkable or mineral water.
- If you are going to go out to faraway places (desert, camping, mountains) take some bottled water with you.
- Tablets are very effective. If you don’t have them or have run out, try boiling water before drinking it and if you can, add a couple of drops of bleach (without detergent or flavouring)
- To brush your teeth and to wash fruit and vegetables you will also need to use bottled water
Fruit and veg
If you are not completely sure that fruit and veg has been washed with bottled water, abstain. A contaminated salad can leave you in an awful state. Wash each piece with mineral water or eat the fruit peeled. Throw away fruit and vegetables you see that have damaged skin. Don’t consume food from street stalls, in which you see the skin is exposed to the air, to warm temperature and may have already been cut.
This milk is incredible!
Indeed, milk has a certain something. Not if eaten raw. When milk has not been subjected to the pasteurization process, it can cause many sicknesses. The best thing is to boil it before drinking it and that’s that.
Well, of course we love to try local food. One of the most delicious ways to get to know a town is through the gastronomic culture, but we are not going to turn into kamikazes. For particular products, those which our stomachs are not used to, the advice is to think twice. Now yes, if you cannot resist, try, but at least, inform yourself about the most suitable place to eat with the most guarantees. Also, it is good that you ask the locals for the side effects of some foods and spices in order to not get any unwanted surprises.
Where to eat
Your trip guide will take you to safe places, but if you go on your own, a good way of exploring the terrain is to scan the locals. Opt for those places you can see locals eating. That is a guarantee that the foods are accessible and therefore, the food is the freshest. Also, they tend to be sites with more affordable prices, that have nothing to do with what is typically charged in places frequented by tourists. On the other hand, for the better cooking conditions choose the tourist places, because if they want to look after their reputation, tourism is the way to earn the coins.
It turns out to be very hard to stop yourself from trying local delicacies that are sold on street stalls, but careful with how, where and what to try in these places. Look out carefully for the street vendor and the person that deals with the food. Concentrate on the hygiene conditions and the use of common sense. Eat well cooked food and food that is still hot. Refuse food, even if it is still being made, that spends too much time exposed to ambient temperature or if you can see it surrounded by flies and other insects.
In some cultures, seafood and fish are a major part of gastronomy. In these cases, you need to be sure that you eat them in suitable places. You cannot skimp on this, because if the seafood is not well done or the fish is contaminated with any type of parasite… the bathroom will get busy! Furthermore, food poisoning in these products can be very damaging and dangerous.
Food in remote locations
If you are going to spend days away from civilisation and worldly noise, in more secluded places, it is convenient that you take portions food in case of emergency. Energy bars, food to empty, cookies, small cans…everything you can eat you can guarantee is safe.
It goes without saying that we can’t just be obsessed with the hygiene of others and then get to eat with hands that have been anywhere. It is very important that before you eat or cook, you wash your hands very well. Also, taking anti-bacterial hand wash or disinfectant wipes is a good idea!
Translated by Jenny Inyang