You've booked your dream vacation to a far-flung locale with a legendary food culture-in fact, it's a major reason you're going. But while you salivate at the thought of diving head first into a local dish a la Bourdain or Zimmerman, you should tread lightly, lest you're hit with a bad case of food poisoning hours after landing. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), depending on the destination and time of year, 30% to 70% of travelers experience travel diarrhea, the most common food-related illness. The agency attributes the poor hygiene of local eateries as the number one contributor to food poisoning, but it's not the only ailment you'll encounter.
So how do you enjoy, literally, the local flavor yet still avoid sickness? Here, weve gathered some tried-and-true tips that will help you avoid the tummy-uh-ohs while traveling.
Water treatment, especially in developing countries, can be dicey at best. If you can, avoid ice and fountain beverages, opting instead for sealed water and soda bottles. Drinking hot beverages like tea or coffee is generally considered safe. If worries persist, disinfect, sterilize or filter your own water. Also, it may not seem huge, but avoid food washed in water you can't verify was sterilized. This goes for salad, veggies and fruits (in this instance, fruit you can't peel, like berries). Oh, and bring travel utensils, so you know with certainty how they are cleaned.
This seems like a no brainer, right? You'd be surprised, though, at how much pre-prepped food you may encounter, but it's in your best interest to eat food you know was cooked upon ordering. That said, don't be afraid of street-food, but be smart! By eating at street stalls, you have a better sense of how they cook and prepare their food, as opposed to restaurants. More often than not, you will get sick in restaurants where you can't see the kitchen.
Does one street food vendor have a line while the other, seemingly similar one across the street languishes? There's probably a good reason. Pay attention to who is waiting for food: mothers with their children and lots of locals are a good indication of safe eating.
This goes without saying, but listen to your mom. Take her advice and pack soap or sanitizer, but don't go crazy with it... Youl'l develop a local immunity with time.
What are some of your best tips for eating well but safely when you travel?
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Raised in Southern California, Joseph left the temperate climes of the OC for the chilly winters of Chicago, where he earned his degree in magazine journalism. Along the way, he developed an impenetrable layer of blubber, thanks to the city's deep dish pizza and hot dogs. In recent years, he has edited an online travel magazine, helped produce two international TBEX conferences, and has written about fashion, food, wine, and travel for various online publications. Currently, Joseph is Assistant Editor at Wine Enthusiast Magazine, where he geeks out on his interests regularly. Read Joseph's blog at Pith + Moment or follow him on Twitter.
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