If you wear your ‘foodie’ badge with any sense of pride, then you’ll know the feeling. You’re deep into a dark alley, phone leading you by the hand, stomach by the heart. You’re peering into domestic yet foreign scenes, grandmas flipping greens, meat on hooks and bellies hanging on tenters, wondering if this is that place. Because without doubt, the intrepid are rewarded when travelling, not only with a meal of deliciousness and dignity, but also with an insight into what makes a new and unfamiliar culture tick.
Man, are we here for those moments. Not the sea, nor the sand. Certainly not the selfies or the sepia toned sunsets. But always, resoundingly and resolutely; the eating. That doesn’t mean that we go full gung ho and eat absolutely anything. Because if you’re to enjoy your trip and its treats to its fullest, something like food poisoning needs to be avoided at all costs. This is what we do; our 5 IDEAL food safety tips to keep you healthy while travelling.
WHAT TO AVOID
A common cause of simple dietary or digestion related issues in far flung lands is tap water. Clean drinking water from the tap, even on the continent, is scarce, let alone if you’re on the other side of the world. So, play it on the safe side and always drink the bottled stuff (preferably from a filter dispenser and from a reusable bottle). There are other precautions you can take regarding the old h2o, such as avoiding salads which may have been washed in tap water, and steering clear of ice.
That said, most of the ice you’ll encounter abroad is clean and you’ll be able to consume drinks containing it – after all most street restaurants and vendors will not risk their reputation by serving dirty ice. Oh and ingesting a little, such as when brushing your teeth, won’t harm either.
Also take extra care when diving into the buffet; these are more prone to bacteria, are likely to have been handled by a large number of people and have probably been sitting out in the heat for longer than they should have. If you become unwell, be sure to create a food journal of everything you’ve eaten for the past few days. While you may initially think the reason for your upset stomach is due to some dodgy food, it could be another more serious issue – for example, telling the difference between food poisoning vs appendicitis can be difficult.
GET YOUR VACCINATIONS DONE
Having your travel vaccinations all in order is another way to prevent any serious infections from ruining your once-in-a-lifetime adventure. We recommend seeing your GP at least eight weeks before traveling to ensure you get all of the appropriate vaccinations well in advance – some take a while to fully develop their resistance. If your GP is busy – and let’s face it, with the current funding cuts to the NHS from our woeful government, they often are – then you can get the same service by visiting a holiday/vaccination organisation such as Clari Health.
While you’ve got your doctor’s ear, it might also be a good idea to go over your allergies and discuss what foods and situations you should be avoiding. Better to be safe than sorry when so far away from home, after all.
COOK YOUR FOOD THOROUGHLY
Airbnb has made every traveller feel at home in any part of the world, and with the rise in popularity of such accommodation, so many have started to take advantage of their kitchens when abroad. This is great news; there’s nothing better than getting stuck into a local market and its regional, seasonal ingredients. But the best mantra for the traveller keen to cook is described succinctly by many an explorer who came before us – cook it, wash it, peel it or forget it. In other words, take a little extra care with eating raw items of fruit and veg straight from the market without any kind of treatment from your end.
DRINK ALCOHOL RESPONSIBLY
Every country has its own drinking culture, tolerance for drunken behaviour and expectations of how visitors should behave. One of the ways you can be kindest to your gut during a trip abroad is to consume alcohol with a modicum of mindfulness. We’re not saying you have to abstain for the duration of your trip, but excessive boozing combined with an unfamiliar cuisine can often lead to a bad belly blighting your trip. Better to enjoy in moderation and responsibly, we think.
TOO MUCH OF A GOOD THING
Is there anything better in the world than pulling up a stool in a foreign land, somewhere which looks a little rough around the edges but is full of hungry locals, and seeing what you’re served? To us; heaven.
But you can have too much of a good thing, make no mistake, and even we wouldn’t have every meal at street level; our stomachs simply wouldn’t take it. So, shake things up and keep them interesting by enjoying a rich and varied sampling of what your destination has to offer. Try the highly regarded restaurants, grandma’s home cooking spot, the street food meccas and markets, and more. Variety is the spice of life. It’s also kinder to your belly.