It’s the ultimate travel nightmare: eat something you’ve craved after for months and end up hunched over the toilet for the duration of your trip. 

This nightmare is known as food poisoning, and while its symptoms are nasty, the condition is widespread. According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1 in 6 Americans suffers from food poisoning every year. And these numbers are likely to jump: depending on when and where they travel, between 30 to 70% of travels can come down to food poisoning – causing abdominal cramps, vomiting, and diarrhoea – the CDC says. 

Food poisoning is without a doubt a miserable experience anytime, but it can be particularly problematic when you’re travelling for a host of reasons. It’s also dangerous for pregnant women, young children, older adults, and those with weakened immune systems- all of whom are much probable to get severely sick and have more serious problems like liver failure and miscarriages. 

What Causes Food Poisoning? 

Food poisoning is a common term that refers to over 250 different foodborne diseases that are caused by different pathogens and microbes. More often than not, when we fall sick from drinks or food abroad, it’s because of viruses, bacteria, or parasites. Bacterial causes from sources like salmonella or E. coli from raw fish, undercooked meat, or runny eggs are the most common spread.  

There’s also the staphylococcus aureus bacteria which can be found in unpasteurized dairy products and can produce a dangerous toxin that leads to vomiting and diarrhea. But food may not always be the root of all evil – the person handling your food can also be ill with something like the stomach bug norovirus.

Note that if you or someone close suffered injuries requiring hospitalisation due to a contaminated food product, you’re eligible to a lawsuit to recover compensation for medical costs, hospital bills and lost incomes. According to, personal injury lawsuits, such as food poisoning, are more likely to be successful when there’s well-documented contamination of the food supply, such as a government agency confirming the outbreak of food illness. 

1. Pay Attention to What you Eat 

Be cautious about what you are eating while travelling. Food that’s poorly cooked – that’s not prepared to a hot temperature- is more likely to retain bacteria that caused food poisoning. 

  • Opt for locations where food is completely cooked and freshly made – avoid food that’s warmed up after cooking. 
  • Don’t buy uncooked foods unless you can shell or peel them.
  • Ice cream isn’t always your friend – buy only from vendors who keep the product properly chilled. 

One of the leading culprits of food poisoning on international trips is uncooked seafood. We all love it, appreciate it, and crave the taste, but little we know about the way it was stored. The same goes for foods that are washed in local tap water and then served. 

Not All Water is Drinkable 

In many countries, the local water supply isn’t as clean as it is in many developed states. There’s also the problem of vendors who prefer to refill empty bottles using local unfiltered water from the tap. 

  • If travelling in locations where water is potentially unsafe or unfiltered, ensure you don’t leave home without purification tools or tablets on hand. 
  • When purchasing bottled water, make sure the seal is undamaged before drinking it. 
  • Ice isn’t safe either. There’s a good chance it may not have been made with sterile filtered water, but tap water instead – don’t be afraid to ask. 

2. Choose Street Food Wisely 

The food from street vendors can give you a sense of living locally, but in some places, these vendors aren’t subjected to the same inspection efforts given to restaurants and may sell contaminated or lower quality foods. But Google in your pocket everywhere you go, you can easily get information and reviews on local dining options near your accommodation. 

With that in mind, you should always inspect the appearance of the restaurant before indulging in the food.  Don’t be afraid to inspect the general cleanliness of the eatery, including utensils, tablecloths, and menus, to determine the restaurant’s overall cleanliness and level of hygiene. If you don’t like it, don’t buy it and be brave enough to find something better. 

If you’re a street food enthusiast, choose one that locals line up for. There’s a good chance natives have been there before and trust that particular chef. Also, asking locals where they like to eat is a great way to reduce your search time. 

3. Wash And Rinse Your Hands 

More often than not, travellers are exposed to bacteria or microbes when switching different accommodations, restaurants or transportation means. By simply washing your hands thoroughly before touching your plate or eating the food, you can be sure you haven’t contributed to your own nightmare of a trip. 

  • Get your hands wet with clean water and apply soap
  • Rub your hands thoroughly, scrubbing in between fingers and under the nails for at least 20 seconds
  • Rinse well under the running water and use a dry clean towel to dry them

4. Emergency Food is a Must 

Parents are already very familiar with this process. However, packing emergency food on your travels, and refilling your supply with trusted products as you go, is the best way to be sure that you’re not exposing yourself or your little one to potentially unsafe food when stomachs are growling, dining options are limited, and patience is lacking. 

There’s no rocket science to pre-packed food. Make sure your travel rations pack contains foods like nuts, cereals, cookies, pretzels, and even fruits that can be peeled. These are a great way to stave off cravings until you find a reasonable dining place. 

Want to read more of our latest posts? Check out our review of Badshah restaurant in NYC.