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Home » Travel Tips

What to Do if You Get Food Poisoning in Another Country

Submitted by on 18/04/2015 – 12:45 amOne Comment
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food poisoning

When most people think of travelling the world, it’s the romance of it all that’s easiest to fixate upon, and why wouldn’t it be? Exotic cultures, stunning architecture, fascinating people, and unbelievable food can accompany almost any trip abroad, but as any seasoned traveller will tell you, it’s not all fun and games.

One of the most common misfortunes of travel, food poisoning, can throw a pretty hefty wrench into the spokes of your best-laid plans, but you needn’t let it ruin more than it must. While prevention of food poisoning is always ideal, even the most conscientious traveler will likely suffer it if they get out and about in the big, wide world often enough. Should you get food poisoning in another country, here is some advice about what you should do to mitigate the fallout.

Drink Clean Water

Dehydration is one of the most serious risks you run when you’re sick with food poisoning. Whether you’re vomiting, experiencing diarrhoea or have a dreaded combination of the two, keeping your fluid level up is essential to your recovery. Be sure to drink water you know is clean, too. Avoid tap water and opt for bottled water that has been purified. Try to drink at least a two litres of water throughout the day, and if you’re able, drink more.

Let Someone Know

Especially if you’re travelling alone, but even if you are with a group, let someone know you are sick just in case your food poisoning is more serious than you realise. It may be necessary for someone else to seek medical attention on your behalf, and in the event that you may need to seek legal recourse for your food poisoning, you’ll want outside verification. If you’re alone in a country where you don’t know anyone, alert someone who works at the hotel or hostel where you are staying.

food poisoning

Seek Medical Attention When…

Most food poisoning resolves itself in a few days, but occasionally, serious side effects or the presence of more sinister bacteria may require that you seek medical attention. Get to a doctor or hospital if the following occurs:

  • You have a fever.
  • You find blood in your stool.
  • You show signs of dehydration, which include dizziness, increased thirst, lower urine volume, headache, fatigue, and dry mouth.
  • You don’t recover in three to four days.

Get Someplace Comfortable

If you don’t have a place you can hole up and feel safe and comfortable for a few days, get to one. Even if you have to deviate from your travel budget, you’ll recover more quickly if you’re in a room by yourself where you can rest without interruption. While it isn’t always possible to do so, try and find accommodations that have a private bathroom, too. Community bathrooms are tough on your morale when food poisoning is in the mix.


Sleep is essential if your body is going to combat the bacteria making you ill. Cancel your plans and ignore your itinerary. By resting and sleeping as much as possible, you’ll get better much quicker than if you try and tough it out while your immune system is at war, and can you imagine how fun touring museums or vineyards would be if you had to keep running to the bathroom anyway?

Be Patient

Food poisoning isn’t something that goes away overnight except in a few cases, which means you need to exercise patience. So long as you’re resting, sleeping, and drinking plenty of clean water, things should return to normal after, at most, three days. However, any attempt to shortchange the healing process might be met with an illness that’s tougher to get over. As much as you want to be out experiencing the exciting place to which you’ve travelled, your body needs you to exercise restraint.

Ease Back in Slowly

Once it looks like your food poisoning issues are no more, don’t schedule a 12-mile hike. You’ll need to ease back in to your travel plans slowly, so you don’t injure yourself or face a relapse brought on by exhaustion. Take plenty of rest breaks the first few days after you’ve recovered, and continue to drink as much clean water as you can. Also, you’ll probably notice you’ve lost a bit of weight, but ease back in to eating as well by choosing mild and easily digested foods.

Getting food poisoning is always difficult, and in a foreign country those difficulties are compounded. However, by following these guidelines, you’ll give yourself the best and quickest path to recovery, so you can be up and at ’em again with no lasting negative effects.

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Blanche has written 758 articles. +Aaron Bradford is the leader, mentor and chief geek of HappyTimeblog. He put together the crack team of writers known by codename “The Firm“. He's a permanent traveller and a lifestyle hacker. Wanna know more? Check out my Bucket List or my About page... I'm here to show you how to live a Life Less Ordinary

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