How to avoid getting sick while travelling

Travel is one of my absolute favourite things in the world, and it has helped me big time over the years to figure out my priorities in life – which instead of just ‘doing what I’m supposed to do’, now includes following my bliss and having so much fun in the process!

So I couldn’t resist the promise of another life changing trip with amazing food, yoga and unreal culture.

Getting sick was my biggest hesitation for travelling to India. I’ve made so much progress in my healing from chronic fatigue in the last year and I didn’t want to derail my progress with some dodgy chicken.

Within 3 days of arriving in India, my boyfriend had his head in a bucket with a classic bout of gastro. I felt very sorry for him, but I was secretly so relieved that I hadn’t caught it too! But exactly 24 hours later, I was starting to feel pretty off myself and I spent the next 24 hours hugging the toilet bowl.

Although we were frustrated with getting sick in the first place, I have no doubt that our preparation helped us recover much faster than any of my previous travel bug experiences (and believe me, there have been many), and we were back rock climbing and Ashtanga yoga-ing within a couple of days!

Before you go

Probiotics

At least a week before you leave for your trip, start taking a quality probiotic and continue taking it daily throughout the duration of your trip. Look for travel-specific probiotics as these strains of bacteria are best suited to travellers and they will usually survive unrefrigerated for some time.

Stomach acid

Contrary to popular belief, many of us are actually suffering from low stomach acid. Adequate stomach acid is needed to break down foreign invaders such as unwanted bacteria, viruses and parasites, and help prevent them from wreaking havoc in the body. (For more on this, check out Dr Jonathan Wright’s book, Why Stomach Acid is Good For You)

Before travelling to a foreign country, ascertain whether you have adequate stomach acid and whether supplementation is necessary. If you decide to use HCl supplementation, be sure to start with a very small dose (typically around 150mg), take it only when you’re consuming adequate protein (like a serving of meat or fish), and increase your dose slowly. It’s a good idea to work with a qualified practitioner to figure out your correct dosage.

When you're there

Hydration

Proper hydration will help keep your immune system strong and fighting off unwanted guests. When you’re flying, in hot climates or doing a lot of exercise, water alone may not cut it. I take a small jar of good quality sea salt with me and add a pinch of salt to my water to make sure I’m replenishing those much-needed electrolytes.

Hygiene

Before eating, always wash your hands or at least use alcohol hand purifier. There are lots of good non-toxic versions of hand sanitiser on the market now, like Young Living and Dr Bronner’s. 

Water

Where tap water isn’t safe, stick to bottled water. If this is the case, you’ll also need to steer clear of ice, salad, fruit or anything else that may have been washed in or contains the local tap water. It’s a good idea to take travel filter bottles and water purifying tablets for emergencies, although I wouldn’t rely on these throughout the duration of your trip!

Where the water isn't safe to drink, always check that fruit salad is washed in clean water! (Read: It's usually not!)

Where the water isn't safe to drink, always check that fruit salad is washed in clean water! (Read: It's usually not!)

Food

Eat from busy restaurants with a high turnover of food.

Know the local rules! In India, with most of the population being vegetarian, it’s a good idea to avoid meat unless you’re eating somewhere you really trust!

Have a backup plan. It’s a great idea to take some snacks like activated nuts and paleo bars. I took some of these Blue Dinosaur Paleo Bars with me to India (Cacao Mint, my fave!) and they were such a lifesaver for long bus trips and an early morning pre-yoga or climbing snack. When you’re served sketchy plane food or stuck on a bus for 18 hours, you’ll be thanking yourself!

Eggs are a great option when you're travelling! At this homestay they made everyone pancakes which I couldn't eat, so I asked for an omelette instead. Easy!

Eggs are a great option when you're travelling! At this homestay they made everyone pancakes which I couldn't eat, so I asked for an omelette instead. Easy!

Eating gluten free

Gluten free travel can be tricky in some countries. I keep a screenshot of these celiac travel cards in the local language on my phone, and do some research before I go to find out which local dishes are gluten free. In India I ate plenty of curry with rice, dosa and pappadams. I'll be sharing a blog post soon about how to stay gluten free and paleo(ish) in India!  


Do you have any travel tips or experiences to share? Hop on over to the comments and get in touch!