How to Protect Yourself Against Upset Gut while Travelling
Travelling can be fun but also stressful. Are you worried about your digestive system while travelling? You don't have to worry anymore! There are some ways to keep your stomach from getting upset.
Find out in this article how to protect yourself against an upset stomach when travelling!
You can call it as you prefer because it is not a subject people like to talk about, but we are human beings, and while travelling, we all have experienced these kinds of problems.
It can be digestive issues or an upset stomach like bloatation (I have this one a lot because I suffer from IBS: irritable bowel syndrome), cramps, constipation, nausea or, in worst cases, the much-feared diarrhoea.
It can be caused by water, food, stress (many travellers get gastritis caused by stress) or just because we change our regular diet (of course we eat and drink more while travelling, or at least I do it).
So we have to protect ourselves from these problems because they can really ruin our travel.
That is why I wrote a list of all the things I do to protect myself and know they really work. As you can see from the picture below, I really enjoy and love eating.
Tips: As soon as you book your next adventure, make sure to buy good travel insurance in case you need to “unfortunately” delay, extend or cancel your trip. I recommend SafetyWing. A great insurance company to cover everything about your travel.
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1. Get a Hepatitis A vaccine:
I got a hepatitis A vaccine a few years ago, and I am pleased I did it. I had always travelled around Europe, so I didn't think I needed it. But then I decided to go to Cape Verde, and my doctor advised me to get this vaccine.
And I was happy about this decision because while on the beautiful Sal island some people staying at my hotel got stomach issues and I did not (obviously I was sorry for them).
I just experienced some minor stomach cramps while they spent two days running to the bathroom.
2. A few days before departure, take some probiotics:
Starting to take probiotics before and while travelling will increase the good bacteria inside your bowel and help increase your immune system to defend yourself against the harmful bacteria that cause your stomach and bowel issues.
You can have a look at the probiotics I use here.
3. Do your research about the tap water at your destination:
In many countries is safe to drink tap water like in Budapest (see pic above) so you can carry your reusable bottle with you any time to refill anywhere. But in others, it is unfortunately forbidden (unless you want to spend your holiday in your hotel room).
Do some research about it and remember that it is always a good idea to drink bottled water when you are not sure. And don't forget that ice cubes are usually made with tap water, so try to avoid them in your drinks.
4. Wash your hands very often and always before eating:
Always wash your hands with soap and do it properly, not just a quick 5 seconds (remember all those videos about how to wash your hands during the pandemic?).
Hands are always fully covered in bacteria, and while travelling, who knows what you are going to touch, so please never forget to wash your hands.
5. Don't open your mouth while having a shower:
If the tap water is not drinkable, make sure to never open your mouth while showering. You don't get sick only if you drink it. Even just a bit of water inside your mouth can cause side effects.
6. Don't overeat:
This one is for me. Unfortunately, while travelling we love to eat the local food, and there are so many delicious things to try that we often think we don't have enough time to try everything.
But this can cause stomach pain and constipation.
My advice is to always share your meal with a friend (if you are not travelling solo) so you can eat different dishes without ordering 4 dishes just for yourself.
7. Don't drink too much alcohol:
Yes I know you are going to be on holiday and you want to have fun. I am not saying you don't have to drink at all, don't worry, but try not to exaggerate.
Know your limit and remember to always drink a full glass of water between cocktails. This will help you save some pain in your stomach, and you won't feel too much hangover the morning after.
8. Drink a lot of water:
Being hydrated is a must to help your stomach and bowel work well. It helps you to avoid constipation and to eliminate all the toxins in your body.
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9. Eat plenty of fibres:
If you usually eat a lot of fruits and vegetables, don't change it while on holiday (or if you don't use to eat them, well, you should start).
Fibres help your bowel expel all the necessary, and in this way, you will avoid constipation naturally without the need to get some pills.
Kiwi is the best fruit to help your bowel work properly, I always eat one or two every morning. It is also very rich in vitamin C which can help you keep many cold illnesses away.
10. Bring always with you some medicines:
The best way to take action against all these kinds of problems is to always have with you all the necessary to contrast these holiday issues.
If I have stomach pains, I go straight away to a supermarket, pharmacy or natural shop to buy some cold-pressed aloe vera juice (buy the 100%, not the ones with fruits that are full of sugar).
Aloe vera juice saved me years ago when I had gastritis caused by stress.
11. Don't be shy to use the toilet:
Many people have problems using hotels or restaurant toilets, which is a big problem when travelling.
If your bowel is telling you that it is time to go, just go. If you are sharing your room with someone, just ask your travel mate to leave you alone for a while so you can have all the privacy you need.
A good solution is to play some music that will make you feel relaxed (and it will also make a sound barrier between you and whoever is outside the toilet in case you are shy).
Also, reading something might help you a lot.
12. If the tap water is not drinkable, brush your teeth with bottled water:
In some countries, tap water is so bad that you cannot even wash your mouth with it.
Be careful about it, do your research or simply ask about your accommodation and make sure to don't forget it during your vacation.
13. Avoid fruits without the skin and fresh veggies:
If the tap water is so bad, keep in mind that fruits and veggies are going to be washed with that water.
Always choose fruits with skin that you can peel before eating like melon, apples, oranges, kiwi, pineapple etc. Avoid salads and fresh veggies, and eat cooked vegetables instead.
14. Drink camomile tea:
Chamomile tea is the most healing tea you can drink when you have a stomachache. Camomile is anti-inflammatory and can help you heal your stomach.
15. Avoid meat and dairy products:
Meat and dairy are the worst food in some countries because they keep them outside in hot weather (in many markets).
So if you know to be in a country where the health and safety rules are not followed like in the US or Europe, please avoid them and stay healthy.
16. Prepare a ginger tea to calm your stomachache:
Eating or drinking ginger is the best way to calm your stomach from nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and other stomach issues. Also adding some lemon juice can be beneficial for your stomach.
Tip: if you have a kitchen to use, grate some ginger, add it to 1 litre of water inside a pot, cover it with a lid and boil it for 20 mins. Switch off the stove, and leave the lid on till it gets cold. Then drink it.
17. Drink water with lemon juice before your meal:
Drinking a glass of water with lemon juice before eating can help your digestion. Lemon juice contains citric acid that can boost gastric acid secretion, the digestive fluid that the stomach produces that helps your body digest food.
Tip: Do not just add a slice of lemon to your water, squeeze half lemon juice in it.