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Sponsored by Travelan – the most tested and scientifically proven prevention for travelers’ diarrhea

It’s not something anyone likes to talk about, but it’s something I guarantee that every traveler will experience at some point, regardless of whether or not you have an adventurous appetite.

Travelers diarrhea is the most common travel-related illness, and a very real health problem faced by developing countries. It is estimated that 15–20 million travelers will experience traveler’s diarrhea annually, which means that roughly 40,000 travelers got the runs today.

So what do you do if you find yourself with Delhi belly / Montezuma’s revenge, and have to make a sudden break for the bathroom? Follow these tips to prevent travelers’ diarrhea so you can still enjoy your holiday.

How to Prevent Travelers’ Diarrhea

What is Travelers’ Diarrhea

Travelers’ diarrhea is most commonly caused by a bacteria found in food and water, and often picked up due to poor hygiene practices in local restaurants. To put it more graphically, you get diarrhea by eating other people’s faeces through contaminated food, water and eating utensils.

Contracting traveler’s diarrhea is more likely in developing countries throughout Africa, the Middle East, Latin America, and Asia. But the risk of infection is more dependent on the type of eating establishment you visit; from fairly low risk in private homes to high risk in food from a buffet, or street vendors.

Buffets in particular are a nightmare, which is why you commonly hear of gastro outbreaks on cruise ships with thousands of people. This is less about the hygiene of the actual staff, and more about guests who don’t wash their hands after having used the bathroom, and then contaminate the food.

The typical symptoms of traveler’s diarrhea include an abrupt onset of diarrhea, fever, nausea and vomiting, bloating, urgent need to have a bowel movement, malaise (weakness or discomfort), explosive and painful gas, cramps, and / or loss of appetite.

Fortunately, it tends to resolve itself, but your holiday may be over by then and there are definitely things you should do to prevent it, and ways to manage / deal with the symptoms if prevention fails.

Travelers’ diarrhea is most commonly caused by a bacteria found in food and water. Travel safe, and hygienically! Click To Tweet

Breakfast buffet

Prevention

The easiest way to prevent travelers’ diarrhea is by staying away from the bacteria that causes it. This means eating and drinking as safely as you can, and maintaining good hand hygiene.

Washing your hands as often as possible (with soap) is the best way to keep them clean, but this isn’t always possible, especially if you’re traveling remotely. Traveling with an alcohol based hand sanitizer (make sure the bottle is less than 100 milliliters so you can take it onto the plane) is highly recommended.

In terms of food, shopping locally and cooking your own food is the best way to reduce risk of consuming infected food, but this isn’t always possible. If you haven’t prepared the food yourself, you should only eat food that is cooked and served hot. Don’t eat anything which is served at room temperature, or looks raw or undercooked.

Bottled water is the best way to ensure that the water is safe to drink, and if you’re traveling in a country where the water is unsafe, you should avoid ice in your drinks, and not accept fruit or salad from local restaurants, as this has likely been washed under the tap.

You should also consider using bottled water to brush your teeth, keeping your mouth closed while showering, and not swimming in dodgy looking bodies of water that may be contaminated (like lakes). And if you’re heading to a buffet, you could take your own knife and fork if you really wanted to.

If you can't trust the water overseas, remember to avoid ice in your drinks, and fruit / salad washed under the tap.Click To Tweet

Hotel bottled water

Image credit: eric molina

Pack Travelan

There are many over the counter drugs you can buy which help relieve the soul-sucking symptoms of travelers diarrhea, but Travelan actually prevents diarrhea from occurring in the first place.

A natural supplement designed to reduce the risk of infection, Travelan contains naturally occurring antibodies, the proteins that prevent and fight infection. If you consume food or water that contains diarrhea-causing bacteria, these antibodies will target and neutralise the bacteria before they can make you sick.

One Travelan before every meal is all it takes to protect against travelers diarrhea. It’s a highly effective, inexpensive, non-prescription approach to prevention, and I figure, if it’s good enough for the US Army, it’s good enough for me!

Travelan package Australia

Last year the US Department of Defense tested Travelan against 180 different samples of bacteria collected from personnel with traveler’s diarrhea over a 20 year period. The infected personnel had been deployed in high risk locations like Bhutan, Cambodia, Nepal and Thailand. Travelan reacted with every single one of the 180 bacteria samples tested.

Travelan is currently sold in USA and Australia and can be shipped to anywhere in the world when purchased from Travelan.com.au. In the US it’s available from Passport Health Clinics and Amazon. In Australia it’s available from most Australian pharmacies

A $30 pack will last you for 10 days.

One #Travelan before every meal is all it takes to protect against travelers diarrhea. Click To Tweet

Pack Travelan

Treatment

Traveler’s diarrhea tends to resolve itself, but it can often last for 3 – 7 days, so there are several ways to help relieve your symptoms so you can actually enjoy your trip.

You need to replace what’s being lost through the diarrhea and any vomiting: mainly salts (sodium, potassium and chloride) and water. So it’s very important to stay hydrated and consume salt to replace your lost electrolytes.

And as much as you want to be out there exploring, enjoying your holiday, it’s very important to rest. Rest gives your body the best chance to fight whatever is making you sick; and in any case, being on the move with diarrhea can be an anxiety ridden, logistical nightmare.

You don’t usually need to get medical advice or antibiotic treatment for mild to moderate diarrhea. But you can prevent it entirely with Travelan.

Have you ever experienced traveler’s diarrhea? What are your tips?

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Megan is an Australian Journalist and award-winning travel writer who has been blogging since 2007. Her husband Mike is the American naturalist and wildlife photographer behind Waking Up Wild; an online magazine dedicated to opening your eyes to the wonders of the wild & natural world.

Having visited 50+ countries across all seven continents, Megan’s travels focus on cultural immersion, authentic discovery and incredible journeys. She has a strong passion for ecotourism, and aims to promote responsible travel experiences.

    

    46 Comments

  1. Preventing diarrhea in the first place is key. Definitely going to check out this product.

    • Absolutely – better to not deal with it at all!!

    • I wish I had this product previously. A couple of horrendous incidents in the past when traveling.

  2. I truly wanted the information here to fall short, mainly so I could call it a “shitty” post (pun absolutely intended). But it’s actually a very good resource. Thankyou for the information.

    • Haha well I’m glad that you found the post helpful, and you got your pun in anyway 😀

  3. Travelers diarrhea is never fun – there are worse things that can happen obviously, but I can definitely think of a lot of other ways I would rather spend a holiday. We were at a resort in Hawaii lat year and gastro swept right through everyone. Shows that you don’t have to be in a third world nation for it to come knocking.

    • Sorry to hear about Hawaii – we actually had a similar experience, in Hawaii too, for my destination wedding. Half of my wedding guests were violently ill in the days leading up to the wedding because of a bug at the resort. Proof I guess that it’s obviously quite common if we’ve both got a similar story :S!

  4. Totally leveled by the trots in many lands Meg. Actually, I got a wicked case last year in Doha, Qatar. Did not expect it in the world’s wealthiest land but even Scrooge McDuck is not immense I guess.

    Gotta wash those hands a bunch and steer clear of spots begging ya to get traveler’s d. Street stalls, etc. Nightmare waiting to happen.

    Ryan

    • Sorry to hear it’s hit you often Ryan! Yes even the world’s wealthiest or most western countries aren’t immune to it.

      I can highly recommend Travelan for prevention if you find you’re particularly vulnerable. It’s extremely effective!

  5. Having looked at the website it seems that Travelan only protects against E.Coli bacteria. There are many other bacteria which can lead to diarrhoea. If you are using antiseptic hand gel – make sure it has a high % of alcohol in it. Using plastic water bottles contributes to waste overseas. You can buy water bottles with filters that remove 99% of bacteria including giardia and campylobacter which Travelan does not protect against. You can also use chlorine dioxide tablets to sterilise water (I have used this very successfully on 2 Indian wilderness trips)

    • Hi Carol, absolutely, there are a number of different bacteria’s which cause diarrhea though strains of E.Coli are the most common.

      Great tips on checking the alcohol concentration of hand gel, and water bottle filters. I haven’t used chlorine dioxide tablets for sterilizing water before so will definitely look into that.

      Thanks for sharing your knowledge and experience 🙂

    • Hi Carol,
      The good news is that our research shows that in addition to reacting with ETEC (Enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli), Travelan also reacts to the following Gram negative bacteria;

      1. Enterobacter aerogenes strain ATCC 13048
      2. Enteropathogenic Escherichia coli strain E2348/69
      3. Klebsiella pneumoniae strain ATCC 26
      4. Pseudomonas aeruginosa strain ATCC 27853
      5. Salmonella typhimurium strain ATCC 14028
      6. Vibrio cholerae strain 6239
      7. Yersinia enterocolitica strain 67R
      8. Citrobacter rodentium strain DSB100
      9. Shigella flexnerii LPS 2a (CVD Lot # 2457T)
      10. Shigella sonnei LPS 53G (CVD Lot # 95-WRAIR),
      11. Shigella dysenterii LPS (CVD #1251),
      12. Salmonella enterica Serovar Typhi LPS (Difco # 3946-25),
      13. Salmonella enterica Serovar Typhimurium LPS (Sigma # L6511)
      14. Salmonella enterica Serovar Enteriditis LPS (Sigma # L2012)

      Recently the US Defense Force tested Travelan against 180 different samples of bacteria including Camplyobacter and Shighella collected from personnel with travellers’ diarrhoea over a 20 year period. The infected personnel had been deployed in a variety of high risk locations for travellers’ diarrhoea such as Bhutan, Cambodia, Nepal and Thailand. Travelan reacted with every single one of the bacteria tested.

  6. I always tell my patients to put themselves on the BRAT Diet – Banannas, applesauce, rice and toast – it helps with the diarrhea quite a bit

    • Fabulous, thanks for sharing your expertise! I’ve always gone to rice and toast, but not tried bananas and applesauce – here’s hoping that I’ll never need to try it out though lol!

  7. Thankyou for the tip on Travelan … I’ll pick some up before India next month. When travelers diarrhea is named after the city of Delhi it doesn’t inspire me with a great deal of confidence!

    • You’re welcome Lucy, yes I would definitely recommend Travelan for India, of all places! Have a fabulous trip 🙂

  8. We have used Travelan on two recent trips.

    • Fabulous Lyn, I’m glad that it’s working well for you 🙂

  9. Excellent advice Megan. A well prepared article and I was very interested to learn about Travelan. Obviously prevention is the smart approach. I might add that before you travel to destinations where you are likely to be a victim of TD, go to your physician and tell him or her that you’d like some antibiotics to take with you, just in case. Despite good precautions it’s not uncommon for travelers to still get TD. Sometimes food is just plain “bacterialized” and washing your hands will not help. Physicians will be happy to help you with antibiotics. The most commonly prescribed antibiotics include Ciproflaxin, Bactrim, Azithromycin. There are a few others.
    Note: these are to be taken ONLY when you actually start getting the runs. NOT as a preventative measure. No point taking antibiotics needlessly. The other med that helps is a “stopper” like Loperamide HCL, commonly known as Immodium. This prevents further “episodes”. The last thing you need is to be on a bus or in a restaurant making repeat runs to the toilet. I’d like to repost this excellent article on my social media, Megan, if that’s ok with you? I’ll send you a link when I do post it.

    • Thanks Roy, I’m glad that the post was helpful for you 🙂 Good tip on the antibiotics, I might start doing that before big trips in the future too. I agree with you that they need to be used very sparingly, because we seem to live in a world now where people take them for everything! But would definitely be good to have on hand in a worst case situation.

      You’re more than welcome to repost the article on any of our social media. Appreciate the share! Happy travels 🙂

  10. Good to know!

    • Glad the post was helpful for you 🙂

  11. I used to get this all the time, and let me tell you………you DO NOT want to have to stop at a 3rd world restroom!

    • I’ve been to enough 3rd world bathrooms to believe you!

  12. I always use Travelan while on my trips.Just a traveltip -have anything to do with stomach upsets packed in a “ziplock” plastic bag and clearly marked “Tummy”. My bag contains a supply of a stopper (Immodium) charcoal tablets, antibiotics, wetwipes, vomit bag and lectrolyte tablets, (which I add to water) From past experience, diarrhea does not wait until daylight hours to pay a visit. This small pack has come in handy a few times, especially while traveling in Asia.

    • A great tip Penny on having everything organized in a zip lock, thanks for sharing!

  13. SMECTA is my go to. Solves 90% of any of my tummy issues. I’ve cured many a fellow traveller with it who are now converts. Peace corp now use it and safe enough to give to babies for colic apparently.

    • Thanks for the tip Sharyn 🙂

  14. Great article, we have used Travelan many times and have seen mates go down in a heap eating the same meals over and over in Bali and Thailand. We never travel without it now.
    cheers
    By the way I think it works on more than just E Coli

    • Thanks Peter – I’m glad to hear you’ve also found great success with Travelan. It’s definitely an essential. Yes, the Travelan team responded to Carol’s comment above with a large list of bacteria’s it also responds to beyond just EColi. Including Camplyobacter and Shighella. It’s seriously a life saver!

  15. Squat toilets in China, and the runs. I don’t think I need to further paint the picture. It sounds like a lot of people already knew about Travelan – can’t believe I didn’t.

    • Yikes, yes no additional details required!!! I’m glad we could introduce you to Travelan. I can highly recommend picking up a pack, and hopefully you’ll never have that problem again 🙂 They’re a highly reputable brand which is why many travelers already use them.

  16. Very handy as I’ve suffered from this.

    • Glad the post was helpful – can highly recommend picking up some Travelan so it doesn’t happen again 🙂

  17. Only place/time it was an issue for me was in Mexico – on my honeymoon, of all times!

    • 🙁 sorry to hear that!!! Of all times!! We had a nasty gastro bug sweep through the hotel / resort at our destination wedding in Hawaii – fortunately neither of us got it, but guests were in pretty bad shape!

  18. We plan to give this a try.

    • Fabulous Kristin 🙂 Happy travels!

  19. Have to add Travelan to our travel meds bag. Thanks!

    • Fabulous to hear Sue. You’re welcome, glad to help!

  20. Happens to the best of us! 😉 I haven’t heard of Travelan before so will check them out.

    • Sadly, yes it does!! Definitely check out Travelan – it’s in my bag now for every trip 🙂

  21. Apple cider vinegar with ‘the mother’ kills ecoli according to my pharmacist. Take a wee dram diluted with some bottled water and you’ll be good.

    • Thanks for the tip Joe 🙂 If it’s tricky to find apple cider vinegar when you’re overseas, Travelan is a great preventative measure to take with you too 🙂

  22. Ugh man I was so sick once in Philippines it totally ruined 3 days for me. Couldn’t take a bus ride, couldn’t go anywhere, couldn’t eat anything. Finally got better on day 3. Upside: lost 5 pounds. Downside: pretty much everything else.

    • Sorry to hear that! At least you can look on the upside lol – happens to the best of us. Travelan has been a lifesaver though, I can highly recommend it for preventing a repeat in the future.

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