How to Avoid Getting Sick when Traveling

How to Avoid Getting Sick When Traveling

travel sick on vacation traveler's diarrhea not get sick on vacation all inclusive food poisoning sun poisoning bacteria in foodMy husband Tom and I recently got back from a trip to Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic. When we met neither of us had traveled out of the US. Scratch that, I went to Canada for one night when I as 18 and I was strip searched before entering the country. I guess we just looked like a bunch of punks ready to cause trouble. I never left the hotel room. Needless to say, I wasn’t in a big hurry to travel outside the US after that. Tom had barely traveled out of Minnesota when I met him. So 9 years ago when we married we had no idea how to travel let alone how to avoid getting sick when traveling. Well, after 3 all inclusive tropical resorts, we are now able to give you our two cents.

We made it through our first trip unscathed, the second and third, not so much. Tom was the first one to bite the dust during our second stay in Riviera Maya, Mexico but we both were doomed this round in Punta Cana. The not-so-hot part was that we were eating fruit for breakfast, chicken and veggies for lunch and dinner and steering clear of all fat, fried or sugar filled foods. It seemed pretty unfair that I was being punished for eating smart on vacation. Naturally, I took to the web as soon as we got home. I needed some serious answers and I found them.

So, if you are planning a trip anytime soon you may want to give these pre-cautions a quick browse. Here are all the potential reasons you may find yourself sick on vacation.

Too Much Sun

travel sick on vacation traveler's diarrhea not get sick on vacation all inclusive food poisoning sun poisoning bacteria in foodWhen you set sail on a cruise or fly off to places like the Caribbean or Latin America chances are you are planning on heading home with a little bit of color. Well, as you may have been warned, when traveling to areas like this you had better be armed with sun-screen. Not only will you be in the sun for longer periods of time but the closer to the equator you are, the hotter the suns rays can be. With the sun directly over-head you can wind up getting more exposure than if you live in a different part of the world.

Too much sun exposure can lead to severe sunburn known as sun poisoning. Beyond skin redness and swelling, skin poisoning can cause headache, fever, chills, nausea, dizziness, diarrhea and dehydration.  So be sure to be heavily loaded with sunscreen when you know you’ll be exposed for long periods of time. Re-load sunscreen after hopping in the water and stick to the shade as much as possible.

Lack of (Clean) Water

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Upon entering places like Mexico or the Dominican, you may be warned of the dangers of drinking water from the tap. This is because of potential contamination and bacteria. Be sure to stick to bottled water whenever you take a sip. Speaking of which, make sure that is frequent.

If you are in hotter places, be sure to keep hydrated. Without the proper amount of water to keep you hydrated you can also find yourself experiencing things like headache, tiredness, dry skin and nausea. Combine this with an increase in alcohol consumption and you are in for a world of hurt. To avoid this, be sure to bring a large water bottle from home that you can fill up in your room and take with you for your day. Be sure to space out drinks with alcohol and keep clean water drinking consistent.

Sugary Cocktails

travel sick on vacation traveler's diarrhea not get sick on vacation all inclusive food poisoning sun poisoning bacteria in food

Like the water, we were also warned about drinking too many coconut drinks like Bahama Mama and Pina Coladas. The reason being they are made with coconut which acts like a laxative. While this is great if you find yourself backed up and needing a little assistance, not so hot if you plan on spending the day on the beach in a bikini.

What they didn’t tell us is that sugar filled drinks in general (like daiquiris, margaritas or any fruity cocktail) can speed up digestion and your food will run right through you. Considering that Tom and I avoid foods like this, I can only imagine our consumption of these drinks just helped this process along. The mixes used to make these drinks also contain high amounts of high fructose corn syrup which acts similarly to sugar. Although, along with fast acting bowel movements, many people actually have an intolerance to corn syrup that they are not aware of. An allergy or intolerance like this can cause a ton of tummy troubles and not just on vacation.

Traveler’s Diarrhea

travel sick on vacation traveler's diarrhea not get sick on vacation all inclusive food poisoning sun poisoning bacteria in foodYes, this is a thing. Also known as Montezuma’s Revenge, Delhi Belly and Turkey Trots. All classy names that give you a pretty good indication of what’s in store. This is most commonly experienced in places in places like Africa, the Middle East, Latin America and parts of Asia.

Usually caused by a bacterial infection either by water or food people who travel to less industrialized cultures from developed countries are more likely to experience Traveler’s Diarrhea. Symptoms usually set in with in the first 2-3 days and include: diarrhea, cramping, dehydration, nausea, vomiting, and lack of energy.

If you happen to find yourself on the business end of Traveler’s Diarrhea, be sure to keep well hydrated and let your stomach settle before eating again. When you do begin eating start with bland foods like rice, potatoes, bread crackers or bananas. Severe cases may require medication.

To prevent issues like this many frequent travelers recommend taking Pepto Bismol tablets prior to eating. Also a recommendation of bringing along probiotics to aid in healthy digestion.

That’s a wrap

While I sure hope this post doesn’t make me the new poster child for Traveler’s Diarrhea I do want to make sure you are all well informed before take off. Tom and I definitely enjoy our little getaways but we have lived and learned and hopefully we have mastered how to avoid getting sick when traveling.

Heart Soul and Whole Food


  1. Liz | 2nd Jul 17

    Thanks for these great-sounding sugar-free recipes–I’m going to try them with the visiting grandkids, who have been wanting to eat healthier and exercise more ((11-year-old is a great influence on me!)!

    • | 2nd Jul 17

      That’s great to hear!

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