Much planning and coordination surrounds taking a trip. Whether you’re going to a neighboring country or halfway across the world, you must decide when to go, where to stay, what to pack, what to do, and so on. Depending on where you are going, you may even be required to have certain immunizations before you travel. One very important thing you must do to prepare for your travels is to consider how you will eat safely in a foreign country. People who are not careful about this often spend half of their trip or more suffering from upset stomach, diarrhea, dehydration or worse. In some instances, carelessness can lead to diseases such as typhoid, cholera or hepatitis A. The following guidelines can help you learn how to eat safely during travels and avoid some common pitfalls.
Some of the guidelines for safe eating abroad are just commonsense habits that we take for granted. Take hand washing, for example. At home, we know that it is generally a good idea to wash our hands before a meal. However, if we fail to wash up before eating the results are typically not catastrophic. In other countries, however, strains of bacteria that our bodies are not accustomed to may be present. Exposure to these bacteria can cause problems.
At home, we know that we should wash any raw fruits or vegetables that we plan to consume. When travelling, make sure to avoid any such foods unless you are able to wash them (scrubbing vigorously) yourself.
The point is that when it comes to healthy and hygienic eating habits, it is important to be extra vigilant and fastidious when travelling than when at home.
Part of the excitement and adventure of visiting a foreign country is sampling the local flavor. You should not be afraid to try foods that are new to you, so long as you keep some safety guidelines in mind. First, try to dine only in eating establishments that appear to be clean and orderly. This may be difficult in places where street vendors are the order of the day. In general, trust your instincts and use common sense.
Eat only food that appears to be fresh, just-cooked food that is very hot on the restaurant. Food that has been kept warm for any amount of time should be avoided at all costs. Avoid food that has been exposed to flies or other insects. Dairy products such as milk, cream, and cheese should be avoided unless they are pasteurized and refrigerated. Before consuming any seafood, shellfish, meat or poultry, make sure you can confirm that it is cooked thoroughly. If you cannot, – don’t touch it!
When travelling abroad, it is generally a good idea to stick to bottled water. Water quality levels can vary greatly from area to area and it’s better to be safe than sorry. If you do not have access to bottled water, you can boil water to purify it. Unless you are sure it’s made from purified water, it is also a good idea to avoid ice in drinks.