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Travel Tip: How to Eat Local Foods (Without Getting Sick)

You hear a lot about not eating certain foods or drinking water in specific places, and it’s enough to make you not want to eat at all when going there. But what’s the fun of traveling if you don’t enjoy a little local cuisine? My advice? Be smart about what and where you eat.

1. Only Eat Fruit That’s Been Washed

I learned this lesson, not in another country, but in Little Havana in Miami. We picked up a mango on Calle Ocho and heartily enjoyed it. Later, both my ex and I were terribly sick. Likely it was fertilized with night soil (read the definition to get grossed out), which is common practice in other countries. So, lesson learned. Wash all fruit in bottled water. Or avoid it.

2. Avoid Fried Food

Admit it: fried food doesn’t make you feel good anywhere you eat it. Given that your stomach is on strange soil, it’s probably not in the best condition anyway. Feeding it greasy fried food is just a recipe for disaster. So resist!

3. Only Eat What’s Prepared in Front of You

I got this tip from Eat Sleep Breathe Travel, and it’s an excellent one. Especially with street food, sometimes ingredients are left out in the hot sun. Spoiled mayonnaise will totally spoil your trip, I guarantee. Opt for food that is cooked at street stands, since you can be assured that will kill off any harmful bacteria.

4. Now’s Not the Time to Get Adventurous

If you don’t normally eat extremely spicy food, don’t start on a trip to another country. Treat your stomach with respect and don’t ask too much of it, or you may find yourself curled up in a ball in your hotel room, wishing you were dead.

5. If There’s Even an Inkling of Doubt, Don’t Eat It

That goes for raw fish, old-looking meat, or something you might be allergic to. I’m allergic to mollusks (clams, oysters, and mussels), but as far as I knew, I wasn’t allergic to snails. Then on a trip to Barcelona, I got horribly sick after eating snails. I should have just stayed away, since they were in the same category as what I knew would trigger a reaction.

Bon Appetit (and safe eating)!

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