Montezuma’s revenge! Keep your tummy safe on travels

Dinagyang Festival street food in Iloilo City, Philippines. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Dinagyang Festival street food in Iloilo City, Philippines. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

As I sit and think about all of the places I’ve been, the most memorable parts of my trips have got to be the food that I’ve had along the way.

From tacos on the streets of Mexico, bread on the street in Prague, fancy restaurants in Paris, and dried miniature octopus in Bangkok, the options are endless for the adventurous traveler who’s not afraid to experience what fare the world has to offer.

Oh, I never actually had the dried octopus, but felt it was worth mentioning.

Travelers in general are not used to bad (and good) bacteria that can be found in foods outside of the home country. Being mindful of this can make for a much more successful trip for you—and your gastrointestinal system.

Once, I traveled to Cairo and was immediately warned to not drink anything from a tap. This means no ice, no water, bottled water that you did not see opened in front of you. This also means nothing that may have been washed with tap water, including fruit, lettuce on a salad, and other foods that we would naturally expect to be safe. I was even told to brush my teeth with bottled water and avoid accidentally imbibing water in the shower.

Silly me, of course, I didn’t heed the warnings and I got very well acquainted with the porcelain gods all over the great land of Egypt. Take my word for it: listen when they tell you what to do and what not to do when it comes to food and drink on your travels.

Here are a couple easy tips for eating and drinking on your vacation:

• If feeling adventurous want to eat street food, check the food stall for cleanliness. Just use common sense.

• Some countries have bad reputations for reusing water bottles to make unsuspecting tourists think the water inside was original to the safe, sterilized bottling process. Some would apply a small amount of glue to the seal, recreating the pop sound when the bottle is opened. Keep an eye out for this.

• Avoid eating items that may have needed washing. Stick to fruit that needs to be peeled, and foods that have been cooked to optimal hot temperatures.

• Remember the rules apply for drinks in bars with ice. Stick with bottled beer to avoid any contamination with water.

At the end of the day, eat and drink smart when on your travels. It really bites when, on the trip of a lifetime, your stomach starts to rumble on day 3 of a two-week vacation.

But when it happens, at least Montezuma’s Revenge is a great weight loss program that can tighten up that six-pack in a jiffy.

About Kenneth Edwards

Kenneth Edwards is a clinical therapist and social worker by morning, traveler by afternoon, photographer by night, and writer by chance. Experiencing the world from different perspectives is a necessary part of living and growing up. Keep being curious. Questions for the Virgin Traveler, comments, or emotional outbursts should be directed at kennethfedwards@yahoo.com.

There are 2 comments

  1. Hungry Traveler

    World Traveler,

    I was just in China and noticed they sold Starfish on the street to eat? How would you eat a Starfish and would you recommend it?

    Hungry Traveler!

    1. Virgin Traveler

      Dear Hungry Traveler–
      I say get some Louisiana Hot Sauce and live it up. Many of us only get to take trips like that once in a lifetime and you’ve got to love every moment of it. Now you won’t catch me eatin’ up some starfish on the street in China, but it’s good to try anything once. So in this case, my advice would be to try to have it cooked if possible, come from a clean-ish looking stand, and share those five arms on that starfish with 4 of your best friends. (not me) :-)

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