6 Nutrition Tips To Avoid Getting Sick While Traveling

There’s nothing worse than food poisoning for a traveler. I once spent three days in a Bangkok hostel after eating bad street meat. I arrived into the city, jumped off the bus, and ate the first thing crossed my path. What I didn’t know, was the meat had been sitting out in the sun for hours, and I spent several hours later hugging the toilet. Being sick away from home while abroad is something everyone wants to avoid, so we spoke to registered dietitian Elise McVicar to get the scoop on how to stay food safe when traveling. Spoiler: it even includes how to be open to and stay safe when eating street food!

Registered dietitian nutritionist, Elise McVicar, shares tips to help you stay in tip-top health while traveling, so you can enjoy your well-deserved break.

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1 - Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!

“This is one of THE most important things you can do while travelling. Starting with making sure you are hydrated before you step on the plane,” says Elise. “Flying is such a dehydrating experience, you don’t want to be playing catch up from the get go. Airplane air is very low humidity which might not seem like an issue but when the air is too dry, the mucus in your airways can’t protect as well against the viruses trying to enter your body. Focusing on hydration on your flight can help you stave off sickness before you arrive. 500ml or 16oz per hour of travel is a good guide for staying on top of it. Yes, it’s a lot but it’s so worth it!

Now, depending on where you’re travelling to, you may have to drink bottled water when you get to your destination. This is something you should research before you go so you don’t have to learn through any negative digestive experiences, if you know what I mean. If you do need to drink bottled water, try to avoid ice as well, as that is typically made from tap water too.

In addition if you’re in a humid, hot destination you have to pay attention to hydration daily. Your body will be sweating more than normal to try to cool you down so to avoid headaches, dizziness and fatigue, drink up!”

2 - Eat the rainbow!

“No, not skittles, but a whole variety of colourful fruits and vegetables, every single day. Different colours have different nutrients and you want to make sure you are getting as many vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients as possible to support your immune system and [overall] good health,” says Elise. “Particular nutrients you want to pay attention to are Vitamins A, C and E that act as antioxidants in the body. Look for deep purples, blues and reds to make sure you get them in abundance.”

3 - Do what you can to avoid food contamination.

“One of the biggest components of good nutrition is food safety. This HAS to be a priority when you’re traveling as it is one of the biggest causes of traveler’s diarrhea and gastrointestinal problems. To prevent any sickness from bad bacteria you should try to make sure that your food is fresh, thoroughly cooked, and served HOT!

Some people shy away from street food when traveling because they think this is where most food contamination can happen. However, it allows you to see just how clean the cooking and food storage areas are. [With street vendors, ask yourself], are they wearing gloves? Are they handling money AND food? Is the raw food left out or is it stored appropriately?

Some people shy away from street food when traveling because they think this is where most food contamination can happen. However, it allows you to see just how clean the cooking and food storage areas are.

Foods you may want to be wary of include salads that may have been prepared in local water; raw fruit and vegetables that you haven’t peeled or skinned yourself (if you have, they are usually fine); food that has been left out and exposed for a period of time, particularly buffets; and undercooked, raw, or reheated food (especially meat, fish, or rice).”

4 - Bring familiar foods.

“Or choose foods that you know. Just because you’re going somewhere new doesn’t mean you have to leave everything from home behind,” says Elise. “I like to pack some of my favourite snacks – not just for the flight, but for while I’m on the go too. My favourites are trail mix, nut butter packets, KIND or Luna bars, roasted paprika chickpeas and some dark chocolate! Most countries have restrictions on fresh fruits, vegetables and meat so don’t pack them to avoid some hefty fines and being held up on arrival.”

5 - Take your vitamins & supplements with you.

“Don’t be afraid to take foods you usually have at home (like multivitamins, fish oil, zinc, protein powders, etc.) with you while traveling! It’s good to maintain your nutrition routine as much as possible. You’re constantly being exposed to new foods and drinks while travelling, so some consistency is key!”

6 - Moderate your alcohol intake.

“I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but alcohol weakens the immune system and makes your body more susceptible to picking up germs and bacteria that will make you sick. Don’t get me wrong, I love cocktails and a good glass of wine, but try not to have too many binge nights and alternate your alcoholic beverages with a glass of water’ too,” says Elise.

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Are you doing any of these things already? What can you implement the next time you hit the road? Happy travels!

Contributor: Elise McVicar


Elise is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) with a Masters of Science degree in nutrition.

After working with collegiate and professional athletes for years, Elise took her expertise to the general population and embarked on a private practice. Specializing in healing relationships with food and establishing healthy, sustainable lifestyles. Elise’s greatest joy comes from helping facilitate her clients mind and body transformation from restrictive eating and negative body image, to an empowered, thriving and healthy life.

Follow her on Instagram @elisemcvicar for inspiring and educational content. Or her website

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International Travel - 5 reasons you MUST go now

There's something nourishing about travel that cannot be synthesized, hacked, or otherwise substituted. We NEED it. People gotta roam. Travel brings new life to everything about the human experience - physical, emotional, spiritual, creative, intellectual - AND, it reawakens that smile you've been missing. Sound fun? It IS! And if it's done right, travel is even good for the planet. How's that for one-size-fits-all, awesomeness? Now, let's see how immersive travel just may change YOUR world ...  

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1. Global Citizenship has BIG rewards

The path to global citizenship is easy! After all, there's only one step: Engage and share with people no matter what language they speak. Hand gestures, photographs, belongings, or even a simple smile can demonstrate that people from every corner of the globe have more similarities than differences. Embracing different cultures and backgrounds is enlightening and fulfilling, and it feeds your appreciation for the diversity of humanity. So long, barriers! Hello, unity!

2. Personal Growth opens your eyes & your heart

There are a plethora of growth opportunities for the world traveler. There's the physical kind of growth - if you overindulge in the many irresistible local cuisines. And, of course, there's the personal kind (less "filling" and more "fulfilling"). The latter arises from exposure to new experiences. Whether you travel solo or in a group, travel puts you outside of your comfort zone, and encourages new connections with new people. The experience is wonderful for building confidence and improving communication skills. It also makes you more fun at parties when you get home! 

3. Your visit impacts local economies & families

In many parts of the world, tourism is vital to preserving local culture and the environment, and for securing a positive future for the next generation. By traveling responsibly, you can ensure that your money benefits the local communities and the people you visit. It's a huge boost to their quality of life. They get fulfilling and positive employment and the opportunity for greater education and health services for their families. As a traveler, you can take pride in knowing that you contributed to local hope, dignity, and prosperity (and had a blast doing it!).

4. You're changing the World - Thank you!

According to the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), tourism is driving prosperity in numerous destinations across the globe. So many destinations, in fact, that tourism is positively influencing international socio-economic progress. It accounts for one of every eleven jobs globally with massive enterprise creation, export revenues, and infrastructure development. 

5. Soak-up some knowledge

History ...
There are usually at least two sides to every story. And by visiting another country, you get to learn about history from a perspective you may not have considered before. For example: The War Remnants Museum paints a different picture of the Vietnam War than do the textbooks provided to American schools. 

Language ...
In addition to learning history, traveling is the perfect time to tackle a new language. After all, there's no better method to learn a language than total immersion. Sure, you'll stumble and maybe feel a bit embarrassed, but it's all part of the fun! And all your struggles and goofs WILL help you to learn. Maybe someday, you'll even return and master the language this time. 

Geography ...
It may not be as sexy as exotic languages, but geography is a big part of any travel escape. As you traverse foreign lands, it's impossible NOT to soak up the natural physical features of the earth and the way human activity has helped shape the landscape that now exists.

Life is better in person - Get out there & travel!

There's a dizzying array of new things to learn on your travels, about cultures, about people, and about yourself. In the end, you may find yourself more accepting of other cultures and open to learning about people all over the world. You will certainly get a break from your routine. And you may just return home with a new outlook on life and some questions about your current reality (and maybe a cheesy souvenir from the airport).

Why do you travel? Tell us in the comments below!

Resources: :
Photography by Dan Kelleghan

Author: Rocio Yepez
CEO and founder of Fisheye Journeys

Rocio Yepez

It's not always easy to track down Rocio. She's always been a free spirit, but since her epic solo backpacking trip, she's been consuming life in rather large quantities! Four months of travel adventure in southeast Asia will do that to a person!

By trade, she's a lifestyle, portrait, and travel photographer. Fascinated by the give and take between people, she aims to capture that magic instant BETWEEN moments - the "passing" moments, where little is offered, but so much is revealed. 

When she's not capturing life on film, she may be in acting class, at the bookstore, or engaged in a class to learn something completely new. She has a bachelor's degree in psychology and a strong mind to earn tenure as a permanent student at community college. If you see her flat-footed, be sure to snap a picture, that's about as rare as seeing her in a bad mood. She's constantly moving, exploring, discovering, and growing.