5 steps to avoiding traveler’s tummy

April 3, 2012

M. wanted a cup of tea in Marrakech the other day and told me “Just make it with tap water.”

No way. If I remember right, it takes 10 minutes of boiling to make water safe to drink, and that’s far longer than the electric kettle in our hotel room would run.  Even at the Four Seasons in Marrakech (a fabulous hotel), we were instructed “don’t drink the tap water.” I took them at their word.

Traveler’s tummy has ruined many a foreign vacation, and I didn’t want that to happen to me. One of the people on our trip who ate and drank freely had sporadic issues with her stomach, and even had to stay back at the hotel one morning. And M. –who believes he’s invincible–had a couple of days of traveler’s tummy.

I had no problems and I think I know why. 
1. I only drank bottled water. And that’s what you’re encouraged to do in Morocco. Take that advice.

2. I took probiotics and ate the local yogurt to keep my tummy full of good bacteria. I take a probiotics capsule every day at home, too, at my doctor’s suggestion. Culturelle comes in sealed single packets and I took one every morning in Morocco. The package suggests two daily while traveling, but I happened to see my GI doctor a few days before our trip and he thought one would work. He was right.
3. Watch what you eat. My GI doc is from the middle east and he told me that melons are sold by weight. Unscrupulous sellers inject them with water to increase bulk. “Stay away from melons, peel your fruit and don’t drink the water,” he advised.  Don’t those strawberries look great? I wanted them, but didn’t partake. The only fruit I ate was bananas.

I didn’t eat salads unless they were cooked–no lettuce, as much as I wanted it. Perhaps if I’d been in Morocco a while and had adjusted to local foods, it would be different, but as a visitor on vacation, I was taking no chances.

4. No drinks with ice. What’s ice made with? Water, and probably tap water.

5. I brushed my teeth with bottled water.

6. My ziploc of meds included Lomotil and Pepcid Complete and I had an Rx from my internist just in case. But no problems.

Which made for a happy vacation.

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