Avoid Getting Sick When Traveling to Mexico (Unlike Me)


We had been working our asses off for months, not having traveled or taken a appropriate break in what seemed like a lifetime. But we had a warm Mexican adventure far off on the horizon to look forward to, which is what we kept telling ourselves. Still, it turned out we had waited too long. It was too far away. By the time it came around we were thoroughly burnt out.

Being spit off the plane into a bustling new world, we found our way to a taxi and made our way up the coast. It was a Friday and we were exhausted, slightly tipsy and completely charmed by the plaza nightlife in Sayulita. We were there for my best friend’s wedding, I was the maid of honor, and had three days to relax and explore until the bride and groom showed up and the work began. Relaxing, as it turned out, was harder than anticipated.

You know when you just go and go and when you finally get the chance to sit down it’s nearly impossible? After a few days of deep breathing, two brutal massages and taking in our new surroundings, we were finally able to settle in. And it was lovely. For about 12 hours.

Just as our friends started arriving in town, a brutal case of traveler’s diarrhea kicked in. I had traveled to Mexico before and managed to avoid getting sick, so perhaps I got a little cocky this trip. Cocky + Mexico + maid of honor is NOT a cute look. I spent the day of the wedding either puking or yeah, you know. So let’s review the rules when traveling to Mexico:

  1. Don’t drink the tap water. It feels awful to constantly be buying bottled water, but it is what it is.
  2. Brush your teeth with said bottled water and for goodness’ sake KEEP YOUR MOUTH CLOSED IN THE SHOWER.
  3. It’s also wise to avoid ice, unless you want to go around asking if an establishment’s ice is “clean”. (This felt rude to me.)
  4. Uncooked vegetables? These are not for you, friend.
  5. Fruit that doesn’t have a peel? Ditto.
  6. Lime juice in/on those beers that have been sitting on ice.
  7. Use plenty of soap when you wash your hands.
  8. Don’t go fucking ape shit eating & drinking everything in sight just because you’re on vacation. If you eat & drink too much then sit in the sun all day you’ll likely get sick. Common sense.

If you do get sick, you can expect to feel a general sense of anxiety & a complete loss of appetite. Listen to your body. Try to relax and rest. Bananas, toast & seltzer are your friend. It’s a good idea to pack Pepto-Bismol, Alka-Seltzer and some sort of anti-diarrheal. You won’t find them in Mexico. I generally don’t recommend these things, as your body knows what to do and if it needs to purge then you should let it purge. But there’s always a small chance you might get sick the day you need to travel or be on a plane and in that case these OTC medications will come in handy.

All this being said, Mexico is one of my favorite places to visit. It’s a truly special place and you shouldn’t avoid it because you’re afraid of getting sick. Besides, we’re traveling for experience, right? They can’t all be good, but some at least make for decent stories.

Update: After doing some further research on the subject, I wrote a new post – Avoid Getting Sick When Traveling to Developing Countries A Comprehensive List.


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