Top of page

8 Food safety tips when traveling abroad

Hand of man holding bowl with sweet coconut food. Busy street full of restaurants, bars and shops - Siem Reap, Cambodia

Nausea, vomiting, fever, stomach pain, loose stools – these are the worst things you can experience when traveling abroad. After all, who would want to spend their days in their hotel room only to be in discomfort the entire time?

When I traveled to Cambodia, we entered the border through the country’s outskirts. And out of all the countries in Asia I visited, it was the only one who let me sign a waiver in case I get sick during my travel. And to be honest, I got scared before I even entered the city.

After passport and visa checks, I was extra careful of the food and drinks I buy even at my hotel. And luckily, I had a blast throughout my time in Cambodia. These are some of the things I did to ensure I don’t ruin my travel from food poisoning.

1. Take pre-travel vaccine shots

Prevention is better than cure. That being said, take vaccine shots for food-related issues such as cholera or hepatitis. Although this doesn’t keep you safe from other food-related illnesses, you’re making sure that you’re on top of your health.

For people with disabilities, always store two complete packages of your important medications. Moreover, carry your doctors’ numbers with you all the time and make sure you can connect with them through international calls. As a safety precaution in case you get food poisoning, care to ask your doctor about medications that aren’t suitable for the current medications you’re taking. This way, there will be no complications in case an unfortunate event happens.

2. Only choose safe drinking water

Water was one of the main issues in Cambodia. I’ve done some research about traveling to the country and I knew it was a bit sketchy but the travel bug in me went anyway. So what I did was I only drank from bottled water. Always avoid tap water. Moreover, use bottled water when brushing your teeth.

3. Avoid raw food as much as you can

In my country, raw food is a delicacy from this restaurant which is a favorite of mine or even in the streets. Because we get fresh fish from my country all the time, then I can pretty much rely on raw tuna without worrying about health issues. However, traveling abroad is a whole different ballgame. That being said, try to avoid raw food as much as possible when traveling abroad.

4. Try street food with caution

Street food is always an excellent way to experience the country in its essence. Eating street food makes you one with the locals. It means you’re immersing yourself in its culture. However, there could be downsides when eating street food. The hygiene is always questionable when eating street food. Eat street food at your own risk and check if it’s freshly cooked and how it’s cooked as well.

5. Go for packed snacks

Packed and sealed food might be considered junk. But when traveling abroad opting for packaged goods is a safer way to avoid health-related issues. One rule of thumb is to always check if the packaging is still sealed before eating it. Bring lots of this when roaming around the city so you won’t have to buy the first cold snack served in the streets when hunger strikes.

6. Stay away from food at room temperature

It might be tempting to go inside a buffet restaurant, especially when you’re hungry from walking around. Buffets are typically affordable and you get every bang for your buck from all the many choices. However, most of these dishes have been sitting at room temperature for a long time. This is an invitation for bacteria and is mostly common in buffets.

7. Wash your hands before eating

Now that the COVID-19 pandemic is slowly easing its travel restrictions this year, travelers should be extra careful when eating out. Always practice COVID-19 safety precautions like washing your hands all the time. Use soap for 20 seconds before eating or use alcohol-based sanitizers instead.

8. Bring medicines just in case

The last thing you want is to walk around to look for a pharmacy in a new country while your stomach is hurting like hell. Be on the safe side and bring a travel first aid kit instead. That way, when you’re feeling discomfort, you can prevent it by taking medications before it worsens.

Don’t let the pandemic or any other food scare stop you. By doing these food safety tips, you’re making sure that you’re making the most out of your travel.

About the Author

Eliza Brooks
Eliza Brooks

Eliza Brooks is an avid blogger and an informative content writer who loves to write about travel, health, food, culture, and more. She is currently working with Jakers, the leading local seafood restaurant in Idaho.