Eating and drinking is a huge part of travelling, whether we travel for business or pleasure. Indeed, there are many people who make it a point to try different culinary delights whenever they travel. However, if you’re not careful, you might end up getting sick because of the food and beverages you consume.

Traveller’s diarrhoea is one of the most common food-related diseases that people acquire when on a trip. Food poisoning is another usual occurrence. More severe illnesses include hepatitis A, cholera, and typhoid. More recently, travellers are also at risk for Covid-19, which is said to have originated from at a wet market in China.

It sounds scary, of course, but this shouldn’t discourage you from travelling altogether. There are a lot of simple ways to keep yourself safe from these diseases. Here are a few:

Buy and cook your own food
Travelling can be expensive, especially if you love to eat. If you can, buy and cook your own food instead of eating out to save money and stay safe at the same time. If you really want to eat out, then choose one meal a day that’s simple to prepare. You can easily buy breakfast meals in Mauritius, for example, if you’re visiting the island nation. You don’t even have to drop by the supermarket if you want to be extra safe. Online supermarkets and grocery delivery services have been more popular than ever during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Mind your hygiene
The pandemic has highlighted the importance of proper hand washing to prevent the spread of disease. In fact, there are many illnesses that can be prevented just by washing your hands. These include the coronavirus, norovirus, staphylococcal infections, various gastrointestinal diseases, and even pink eye.

Mind your personal hygiene when travelling to keep yourself safe from travel- and food-related illnesses. Make sure to wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water after you go to the loo, and especially before and after eating. Always carry a small bottle of liquid soap with you so you don’t get caught unprepared. If you don’t have access to clean water, use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser or antibacterial hand wipes. Wash your hands properly as soon as you get the chance.

Don’t get too adventurous
Exotic dishes are often part of the allure of travelling, but try not to let your sense of adventure overtake your common sense. If you aren’t sure how the food is prepared, it’s best to skip it. Finally and perhaps most importantly, steer clear of food made from questionable ingredients, such as exotic / wild meat.

Stick to freshly prepared food
As much as you can, eat only freshly prepared dishes. Food that has been left at room temperature for a few hours may already be at that threshold when bacteria starts to form. Avoid buffets as much as possible, since the food may not be kept at safe temperatures and environments. The safest dishes you can eat are those cooked at high heat. Cold foods and frozen treats are also generally safe, but make sure that they were prepared properly.

Pay attention to the water
Staying hydrated is important, which you can easily forget if you’re focused on the sights and sounds of your trip. Carry your own water bottle and set an alarm on your phone to remind yourself to take a drink, even if you’re not thirsty. If the water quality isn’t reliable in the place you’re visiting, opt to purchase bottled water. If you must absolutely use the tap water, bring it to a rolling boil (indicated by large bubbles) then let it cool down first. You can also buy water tablets that you can simply drop into a container of water to disinfect it. Make sure to follow the instructions so that they work properly. Finally, avoid using ice cubes unless you’re 100% sure that they were made from clean water. Freezing can help preserve viruses and bacteria, which can be released as the ice melts.

Buy packaged food
Some of the safest types of food you can eat when travelling are dry and packaged food. These include bread, canned meat, canned or bottled fruits and vegetables, as well as potato crisps and similar snacks. You can purchase these at convenience stores and supermarkets, so you don’t have to worry about accessibility. There are also online supermarkets such as home delivery services that Mauritius residents trust for your convenience. The main thing about buying and eating packaged food is to check its seals. Don’t open or eat it if you notice any damage or signs of tampering.

Avoid raw food as much as possible
There’s a certain appeal to raw food, but it can be risky if it isn’t prepared properly. It’s best to avoid them if you can. If you want to eat fruit or vegetables, opt for the pre-packaged versions (see the previous tip). For those who don’t like canned or bottled versions, buy fresh fruit or vegetables from a supermarket.

We are living in uncertain times, but it’s not too hard to stay safe when eating and drinking on your travels. Follow these simple tips and you should be alright.

Bon voyage and bon appetit!