How to Avoid Getting Sick from Food when Traveling

One Methods:Home Remedies

You love to travel and try all those delicious-looking street foods. But you know you could get sick from the wrong one. What to do? Here are some home remedies to prevent stomach related illnesses while traveling in places with poor sanitation.


  1. Image titled Avoid Getting Sick from Food when Traveling Step 1
    Watch where and what you eat. Food eaten immediately after being cooked is safer, meat in the early morning is safer, vegetables are safer than meat or fish. Buy open-air market meats before 9 AM in hot climates.
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    Inspect the vendor's premises. Even a tiny stand on wheels on the sidewalk can be clean. Do the surfaces look wiped down or grimy and full of old food? Is the cooking oil fresh or smelling rancid? Do the meat and vegetables that are cut up look fresh or wilted/dried out?
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    Inspect the seller/cook. Is his/her shirt or apron grimy or fresh? How about hands? Does he have some bucket of water available for his washing? Is he wiping his nose?
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    Look at the number of customers. If there are many, that means turnover is fast and food isn't sitting around waiting a long time. Don't eat food prepared at lunch in mid-afternoon. Don't eat food that may have been opened the day before, such as canned ham (where the seller only uses a little at a time).
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    Have the seller cut a chicken or fish in front of you to ensure it's fresh, if you can stand it. Fresh meat is best, or stick to vegetables.
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    In cold climates, or at high altitudes, check if the food has been frozen and thawed multiple times. This is as above, if it's been used over more than one day, if turnover is high.

Home Remedies

  1. 1
    Add a capful of white vinegar or lemon juice to every 8 oz of water that you drink. This creates an acidic environment that most microbes can't live in. [1] (kills germs but does NOT eliminate toxins) AND the accumulation of vinegar gives your skin a bad taste so that mosquitoes (and other insects) won't bite you. [2]
  2. 2
    In new environments, especially when eating seafood in foreign countries, consider eating spicy foods or accompany your meal with at least 1 oz of hard alcohol. While this might kill some microbes, it should not be considered a fail safe method. These two factors are best done at the time of consumption, or just before, but it is only slightly less helpful if taken right after consumption. Avoid prolonged periods between either treatments and meals.


  • Eating at hotels may be better in some countries.
  • Eat lightly so bad food doesn't sit on an overly-full stomach.
  • Drink nothing but bottled, boiled or treated water. Don't trust "bottled" water in some developing countries. It may have been re-filled. Check the seal carefully.
  • Eat at normal meal times so food isn't left over.
  • Consider nibbling on a bit of raw onion with questionable meats. This may counter-act some toxins.
  • Watch how the cook washes other foods. Make sure he is at least rinsing vegetables and meat pieces.
  • Eat where crowds are eating. Turnover is higher.


  • Don't buy sushi from rest stops!
  • These home remedies are not 100% effective and should only be used if no other sanitary solution is available. Results vary.
  • When drinking water, never drink standing water! It will make you seriously sick and it could be fatal.
  • Be polite! Do not insult your host needlessly. For many Americans, it is cliché to think of other countries as unsanitary. Please notice the current state of the American food system before you make any comment that could be construed as rude towards any other country. Keep in mind that some countries have far superior food checking systems than the broken American way.

Things You'll Need

  • Vinegar
  • Spicy food

Article Info

Categories: Intestinal and Digestive Health | Travel Health | Food Safety