Travel and eating: how to make your experience safe.

May 19, 2023

Elizaveta Garifullina (she/her/hers), Low Entropy Volunteer Writer


Eating abroad can be a fascinating and memorable experience, but it can also ruin your trip if you eat something bad, so it is crucial to know how to maintain your health while exploring another culture’s food. Here are some tips that will help you enjoy a meal on your vacation and not worry about possible problems: 


  1. Before the trip, it is worth exploring the local cuisine of the country/region you will visit. For example, if you can’t stand spicy food, and most of the dishes of the local cuisine are spicy, you should consider where you will eat and what dishes to choose. Also, exploring the local cuisine in advance will help you understand what dishes you would like to try. 
  2. Learn the basic phrases about food in the language of the country you will visit. This will be especially useful for those people who are vegetarians or vegans, and people with food allergies. Download an offline translator with the language of the country you are going to in advance.
  3. Check in advance whether medical care is available at your destination, in case you get sick. 
  4. Consider what medications to take with you in case of food poisoning. Discuss recommendations with your doctor. 
  5. Read the recommendations of other tourists and, of course, the recommendations of locals to understand which places are better to go to. Take advantage of someone else’s experience. Perhaps tourists will be able to share their mistakes so that you don’t make them, and rather go to the right places with delicious and safe food. Check out the reviews of restaurants before trying food in them. You can check them out on TripAdvisor or other similar sites. And you can find several food bloggers who share good places abroad.
  6. Be careful with street food. Although street food can be delicious, it can be risky to eat, as street vendors may not comply with safety regulations. It might be helpful to check whether there are reviews about certain street food kiosks, and whether many locals eat there.
  7. Having some non-perishable snacks with you might be useful. This ensures that you will always have something to eat. In addition, packaged foods (such as cookies or bars) are often safe to eat.
  8. Avoid eating raw meat, fish, shellfish and eggs. Also, try to avoid unpasteurized milk and dairy products.
  9. Avoid raw fruits, vegetables, berries and greens. They may have been washed with tap water and may have been contaminated. Fruits and vegetables will be safer to eat if you can thoroughly wash them in bottled or disinfected water. 
  10. Avoid sauces and condiments made from raw vegetables. Chopped vegetables have a large surface area for microbial growth. And they could have been washed with dirty water.
  11. Avoid foods that have been stored at room temperature. Eating cold or hot food is better since bacteria die or have difficulty spreading at these temperatures.
  12. Don’t eat the meat of wild animals such as rodents, fruit bats, gorillas, chimpanzees and duikers. Bushmeat can be a source of disease transmission. 
  13. Stay hydrated: ensure you drink plenty of water, especially in hot climates. This will reduce the risk of nutrition-related diseases. But do not drink tap water; it is not safe in all countries, and it can lead to food poisoning.
  14. Wash your hands often with warm water and soap; this is essential to preventing gastrointestinal diseases. And if there is no soap, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer instead. Carry hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes with you. Use them to wash your hands and clean surfaces and food packages. 
  15. And, of course, enjoy new experiences and have fun! Remember that this is something more than just food, but a real chance to immerse yourself in a new culture.

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