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Don't drink the water and other tips on avoiding stomach problems while vacationing

Apr 16, 2012, 7 a.m.

Nothing ruins a vacation more quickly than falling victim to stomach problems. Being sick, trapped in your hotel room is not how any of us envision spending our long-awaited trip. However, staying healthy while overseas involves more than just drinking water safety. Below are a few tips:

  1. Stick with bottled water. Avoiding local drinking water is a good place to start. Even in developed countries, the tap water may not agree with your system. It's best to stick with bottled water wherever you travel. And, don't forget about the ice. It's made with tap water. Consider, also, using bottled water for brushing your teeth.
  2. Forget the street food. As enticing as the smells from street food vendors may be, it's wise to avoid sampling their wares. Refrigeration and food storage regulations are not always as stringent overseas as back home in North America.
  3. Cook, boil, or peel it. The old travel adage tells us only to eat food that has been cooked, boiled or peeled. And, like most such traditional advice, this one makes a lot of sense.
  4. Beware of raw foods. Raw foods, including salads and lettuce on sandwiches, have a greater chance of being tainted than cooked foods. Be aware, also, that overseas recipes, such as those for Caesar salads in France, may include a raw ingredient that's not often used in the same dish in the United States.
  5. Avoid dairy products. Most developing countries and even some European ones, use unpasteurized milk for cheese, ice cream and other dairy products. Reduce your risk of getting sick by avoiding milk, cream and cheese when traveling overseas.

Stomach trouble and food poisoning don't have to ruin your vacation. With a little planning and attention to what you eat, you can virtually eliminate your odds of getting sick on vacation.

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