Avoid Getting Sick When Traveling to Developing Countries – A Comprehensive List

As most of you know, I got mad sick in Sayulita a couple years ago and it has since become my biggest fear when traveling to developing countries. Getting traveler’s diarrhea on vacation is the absolute pits, but most of our sensitive Western bellies can’t handle different climates and sanitary practices. An impending trip to Thailand had me doing loads of research on the best ways to avoid future incidents. It surprised me I couldn’t find a comprehensive list of things to avoid doing and preventative items to pack on the internet, so I’ve come up with this list to share.

Let’s review the basics:

  1. Don’t drink the tap water.
  2. Brush your teeth with bottled water and keep your mouth closed in the shower.
  3. Avoid ice.
  4. Don’t eat uncooked vegetables.
  5. Only eat fruit you can peel.
  6. Wash your hands before eating.

It’s completely weird being in place with the same food, drink and amenities as home, so it’s important to stay vigilant. No apples, iced coffee or cesar salad. No brushing your teeth in the shower.

Here is list of items I’m packing to (hopefully) avoid getting ill, or at least assist me in a quick recovery:

  • Hand sanitizer – Use it before anything goes in the mouth. You know, for those times there’s not soap in the bathroom. Or a sink.
  • Sanitizing wipes – Same idea as above. I’ve also read someone recommending to wipe down the plane tray table and armrests after boarding the plane. I guess the idea is that the cleaning crew doesn’t have enough time between flights to properly sanitize.
  • Chewable Super Papaya Enzyme Plus – Natural, great remedy for digestion issues.
  • Alka-Seltzer, Pepto-Bismol, or Imodium – In case you get sick despite your best efforts. Let your body purge what it needs to or pick your poison.
  • Oral Rehydration Salts – Put a packet into a bottle of water and sip slowly once you’re done vomiting. Rehydrating will help you recover much faster than you would otherwise.
  • Ciprofloxacin – I haven’t taken an antibiotic in over 15 years, but since I’ll be traveling for a few weeks, I’m definitely taking something to help boot out the bugs should I need to. Talk to your doctor to see if they recommend a script.

So that’s it. It’s not much, but pretty much encompasses all the information I’ve read in various forums and blogs. I’m definitely a little paranoid, but there’s really nothing to be afraid of, especially if you’re prepared.


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