10 Top Tips to Avoid Food Poisoning on Holiday

You’re probably familiar with that sinking fear that comes with planning a holiday – the fear of falling ill and returning home with stories of sick bags rather than sun tans. Unfortunately, food poisoning on holiday is a very real concern and it always pays to be prepared.

Popular destinations like the Dominican Republic, Egypt and Turkey are famous for the sun and scenery, but they are also infamous for their prevalence of food poisoning. As you read this, you may have even suffered from food poisoning in one of these destinations and you’ll know that it’s not a situation you’d ever wish to return to!

So, with that in mind I’ve compiled a list of tips to help you avoid food poisoning without avoiding holidays altogether. While it’s true that nobody wants to spend their whole holiday thinking about how to avoid stomach cramps, with a few simple precautions you can guard yourself against the dreaded ‘dickie tummy’ and make yours a holiday to remember for all the right reasons.

1. Drink water from the bottle

It’s an oldie but a goldie. Take your water from the bottle only. To be in with the best chance of avoiding contaminated water you need to ensure as far as possible, that the water you drink is clean and bottled. If you’ve got a fridge in your hotel room or apartment, keep it stocked with bottled water. Maximum refreshment!

2. Avoid ice

Much as you may yearn for the icy coolness of a drink rattling with ice, it’s best that you avoid ice altogether if you’re in a developing country. It’s easy to forget that those refreshing lumps of ice are made from the very same water that you’re avoiding every time you shun the tap.

3. Make sure food is piping hot

It is essential that any hot food you eat is cooked through, especially in the case of pork or chicken. If you are served food that is only lukewarm, ask for a fresh new dish and make sure, if you can, that it is not reheated.

4. Don’t eat food that’s been left out for a long time in warm temperatures

The all-you-can-eat buffet is synonymous with all-inclusive breaks. But, before you dive into the dishes full of food, try to take note of how long the food has been left out. If it’s been sitting in the warm for hours, it’s best avoided.

5. Avoid street food

Much as it’s great to be adventurous on holiday and live as the locals do, your stomach may not thank you for ‘going native.’ Street food vendors tend to operate to their own standards, so it can be extremely difficult to ascertain how much, if at all, they have operated under concern for health and safety.

6. Avoid salads

This also goes for uncooked vegetables and unpeeled fruit. Again, it’s the water issue. It’s fairly likely that salads have been washed in non-bottled water and this can open you up to the danger of water-borne illness. If there is any fruit or veg that you can peel yourself, then go ahead, as the inner fruit is less likely to have come into contact with any unsanitary elements.

7. Do your research

TripAdvisor exists for a reason. Before you pick your destination and hotel, do some digging. There are plenty of fantastic hotels in countries that are known for high instances of food poisoning. Try to look for one that is well-reviewed for cleanliness and that doesn’t have mentions of ‘tummy bugs.’

8. Keep an eye on cleanliness

When eating in a restaurant or your hotel keep an eagle eye out for hygiene and cleanliness. If you can see grimy work surfaces, floors that haven’t been cleaned and staff that handle the food directly, it might be time to make a beeline for the door.

9. Pack extra snacks

If you’ve been unfortunate enough to encounter the kind of poor hygiene mentioned above, but you are REALLY hungry, you might well end up trying your luck and regretting it. To stave off the hunger while you hunt for a better food spot, carry some non-perishable snacks, like crackers and cereal bars, for times of emergency.

10. Steer clear of ill people

If your other half has already been taken down with sickness it’s best that you stay away from them as far as possible. Obviously this is not a practical solution when you are travelling together, but at the very least you should make sure that your partner does not handle your food. You should also ensure that you both take extra care to wash your hands thoroughly and regularly, especially before eating.

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