International travel can be fun and exciting, but it can also leave you vulnerable to what is commonly called traveler's diarrhea. Traveler's diarrhea is caused by ingesting harmful bacteria from contaminated food or drink. The countries where you are at the highest risk of being infected are the developing countries of Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. It can happen to anyone, but there are ways to reduce your chance of becoming a victim of traveler's diarrhea.
Eat safe food
Unlike what many people believe, exotic or unusual food is not the cause of traveler's diarrhea - so enjoy! Just keep in mind that thoroughly cooked foods are the safest items on the menu. It is undercooked or raw foods that put you most at risk for the disease. Avoid eating foods or drinking beverages from street vendors. Don't think for a moment that fresh fruits and vegetables are safe either. The bacterium that causes the disease is found in fresh fruits and vegetables as well. Just remember that nothing should go into your body that has not been cooked or boiled thoroughly.
Drink safe liquids
Travelers are always advised to rely on bottled water. In many developing countries, water is usually the reason for traveler's diarrhea. You may be used to safe tap water in your own country, but it could be dangerous in many places around the world. If you cannot find bottled water, you will need to use water purification tablets and drops, or boil the water for at least 15 minutes. Water purification tablets are available in many drug stores and sporting goods stores. Again, avoid buying beverages from street vendors.
Wash your hands well
If you're not used to washing your hands before eating at home, you need to get into the habit overseas. Your uncovered skin is exposed to a multitude of germs. As a result, your hands and not your food may be the source of the harmful bacteria that caused traveler's diarrhea.