I’ve had two really bad experiences with food poisoning abroad and I can tell you, it is hell, absolute hell. I’ll deal out some solid tips below, but first let me take you back to that day in Chiang Mai.
*Cut to time travel ripple effects*
Chiang Mai is one of our most loved places, (don’t forget to check out the Elephant Nature Park if you are visiting!) BUT, it is the first place I ever got severe food poisoning, I was so unlucky.
I will not name and shame the establishment because they are a small business and one bad mistake isn’t a fair reason to ransom someone online. But I will tell you after a long drive back from Pai, being poisoned by a rotten prawn at the bottom of a VEGETABLE Pad Thai was most unwelcome. I stopped eating immediately once I had spotted the offending prawn – but alas the damage was done. If you find yourself in a situation where you feel like eating one is a high risk, do yourself a solid and put the fork down.
My next 48 hours were a mess, as were the next 5 days. I know, grim right? But food poisoning from shell fish is no joke.
Travelling when you’re ill.
Our itinerary consisted of one last day in Chiang Mai, followed by a short flight to Krabi in the morning. My last day was fine until about 3 hours after this fishy failure. I was sick in the street, so we headed back to our hostel. ‘Eden walking street’ is a great place to stay, and has a rather dashing combi shower/toilet which I decided to dorm in for the evening. I wont go into the dark details of what went on in that wet room, but I will share how jaring it is to lean back after a mammoth puke session and accidentally turn on a freezing cold shower, aimed directly at the top of your head. Very, very jaring indeed. After figuring out how to turn off the shower (and repeating this exercise a few more times), I made it to morning.
We swiftly left Eden to catch our flight. Sheer will power, true grit and a lot of feeling sorry for myself got me through that flight. Let’s just say it’s a good job the flight was short. Sweating, but not due to the heat, we made it to Krabi.
After landing in Krabi, I forgot about the further 40 minute minibus journey to get to our final destination; Ao Nang. Urgh. Luckily no one could tell I stunk when we finally got to Ao Nang because it already stank of sewage. Not to take anything away from the place, but being so close to the coast means being close to the sewage that is dumped into the sea, Krabi kinda stinks! They are cleaning up their act, but don’t take my word for it, check out this tripadviser post. Our hostel (Glur) was quite far back from the main tourist hotels and the beach, which I was really thankful for. This was a really nice place to rest up and chill out before we moved on again. (It also doesn’t smell around the area of Glur).
What to do when you have food poisoning?
If you’re unfortunate enough to find yourself getting food poisoning abroad, first of all, puke out your guts. Honestly, you need to get all that bad out!
Remain hydrated, take medications which have electrolytes you might be loosing and not recovering though keeping down food. Stay strong and think about what a great workout you’re getting.
Then, after finishing this read, checkout out the brilliant NHS website for their general advice.
Schedule some down time
We normally book the occasional ‘nice’ hotel when we’re away, particularly when they are super cheap and we need a rest. Try riding out the first 48 hours then play the ‘private room’ card. Also use any cheat you can, to get to your final destination. It might cost a little more, but you don’t want to be on a packed minibus with no AC when all you can think about is the next toilet stop.
Help prevent food poisoning abroad
If you get a dodgy prawn, you’re probably done for. You’ll have to ride it out. However, there are less volatile versions of poisoning which can be prevented. These are usually caused by a bacterial imbalance, from poor food handling and hygiene during meal preparation. First of all eliminate yourself by using hand sanitiser before touching anything (winky face) that will be in or around your mouth.
Finally, to combat ‘bad bacteria‘ we can prep our body to already have more ‘good bacteria‘. This way, if an imbalance occurs we are already overloaded with positive bacteria. This is done by taking probiotics, local yogurts or travel tablets.
Personally, we now make a point of incorporating lassi yoghurt drinks into our routine when travelling. Lassies taste absolutely beautiful, and are packed with local ‘good bacteria’. We find that they help with mild tummy upsets. These drinks line your gut and help prevent bad bacteria from taking hold.
Nothing will stop you getting sick if it’s on the cards, but a healthy gut will help reduce the chances of a small imbalance.
Know your own body
Before you go away it’s always good to experiment with any new routine you may adopt whilst you’re travelling. Try taking probiotics at home for a few weeks to see if you get along. Most people have no problem, but it’s worth staying safe.