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5 Ways to avoid getting sick whilst travelling

Whether it’s picking up a sniffle on the plane or getting the dreaded “travellers’ belly”, it seems inevitable that at some point on your adventures you’re going to get sick. But you don’t have to! Here are five ways to avoid getting sick whilst travelling so you can enjoy adventuring around the globe with a little less worry.

1) Always carry hand sanitiser!

Travelling is one filthy business. Dodgy airport bathrooms, dirty airplane seats…it can get pretty grim en route anywhere, which is why I swear by hand sanitiser. I carry it in my bag wherever I go, whether I’m heading out to work, going away for the weekend or flying overseas, it’s the best way to keep your hands germ-free in transit to help fend off any potential bugs. 

Me in Wales with my standard backpack of hand sanitisers ;)

2) Avoid drinking tap water

Clean water is something that we take for granted in the west. But poorer sanitation in developing countries can mean that the tap water isn’t safe to drink. As a general rule, don’t drink water from the tap if you’re unsure if it has been treated and stick to bottled water. This also goes for having ice in your drink which can also be made using tap water. 

If you’re travelling more long-term and don’t want to keep spending money on bottled water (as the bottles will start to add up!) there are loads of portable water pumps and purifiers on the market that you can use to treat tap water to make it safe to drink. A part from the initial cost, they are cheaper in the long-run and more environmentally friendly as you’re not throwing a plastic bottle away each time (bonus!).

If in doubt you can drink fresh coconut water too!

3) Go for the veggie option

I’m not just saying this because I’m vegan (I promise!), but try go for the veggie option whilst you’re travelling in more developing countries as you’ll be less likely to get sick. Meat is more prone to getting contaminated if it hasn’t been cooked right through or has been left out. Also if you’re in a country that uses unpasteurised dairy products try limiting your consumption of them as well. The pasteurisation of dairy products kills bacteria that can be found in raw milk but regulations on this could be different in the places you’re travelling to so just be aware. 

There is one exception to this rule and that is, salad. I know, I hear you: “Mel, you’re saying don’t eat dairy, meat and now salad, can I eat anything?!” and of course you can, this is just friendly advice that has worked for me! But if you’re unsure about the tap water don’t order the salad because it has more than likely been washed in tap water during preparation.

The veggie option can be just as tasty if not more so!

4) Be selective where you eat

..And whilst we’re on the topic of food, try to be selective where you eat. Pick places that have a good reputation and cleanliness rating. Also, eat where the locals eat! You’ll get a more authentic experience, the food is more likely to be fresh and it’ll probably be cheaper too.

Food markets are a favourite of mine, not just because the food it’s cheaper than going to a restaurant but because you can can see your food being prepared and the vendors are more likely to use fresh local ingredients.

Enjoying a chocolate fruit kebab at a market in Barcelona

5) Make sure your vaccinations are up-to-date

The type of vaccinations you need depends on where you’re going so just double check with your doctor a few weeks before your trip. Here in the UK we’re very fortunate to have a national health system so for those of you that live in the UK, you can get your travel vaccinations sorted out for free! But don’t take the risk if it’s not free to get vaccinated where you live. The last thing you need is to contract something serious whilst you’re travelling because you didn’t want to pay out for the injections!

To go to Indonesia over the summer we needed Diphtheria, Hepatitis A, Tetanus and Typhoid injections but it was so worth it, to put our minds at ease and allow us to completely enjoy our trip (which we did!). 

Side note: In addition to your vaccinations, ALWAYS get travel insurance before you travel just in case you do fall ill. 

In Uluwatu in Bali

As a final tip, I’d recommend carrying some typical meds like paracetamol for headaches and Rennie’s (antacids) for upset stomachs. I also recently found out I get motion sick on boats so after a rather choppy dolphin safari in Bali where I was trying not to throw up on said dolphins over the side, I now carry sea-sickness tablets if I know I may be going on a boat trip!

So that’s it folks, I hope you found these tips useful. Of course there is no guarantee you won’t get sick ever but by following these 5 ways to avoid getting sick whilst travelling you’ll definitely reduce your chances in the future.

Wishing you happy and healthy travels!

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About the author

Hi, I’m Mel! The adventure-seeking vegan travel blogger behind Footsteps on the Globe. On this blog you'll find my latest adventures, travel inspiration as well as tips and tricks on how to be vegan around the world. You don’t have to give up being vegan to follow your travel dreams and I’m here to show you how!