How to Prevent Traveler's Upset Stomach

Choose your meals carefully to avoid a traveler's upset stomach.
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Traveling can be stressful on your body even before you reach your destination due to nerves or changes in air pressure. Developing a traveler's upset stomach, also called traveler's diarrhea or TD, after sampling the local cuisine can be one of your worst travel nightmares. Prevent traveler's upset stomach both before you begin your journey and while you are exploring your vacation spot.

Step 1

Choose your pre-travel meals carefully, especially if you a flying to your vacation destination. Avoid greasy fast food, if possible, as well as carbonated or alcoholic beverages. Fat combined with flying anxiety or in-air turbulence can create an upset stomach. Carbonation and alcohol can dry you out, making you feel sick.


Step 2

Drink water only from sources that are confirmed to be safe and free from bacteria. Your travel agent will advise you of the safety of the water in the country to which you are traveling. When in doubt, choose bottled water, juice or soda, and forgo ice cubes, which could be contaminated. Boil tap water in a pot on top of the stove for at least a minute to kill any existing microorganisms.

Step 3

Prevent traveler's upset stomach by eating only pasteurized foods when possible. Check the labels on milk, cheese, yogurt and fruit juices. Refrain from consuming items if the pasteurization status is unknown.


Step 4

Eat foods at the temperatures appropriate for serving. In other words, eat hot entrees while they are hot and consume cold foods immediately when served. Foods that are not refrigerated within two hours should be thrown away, as the risk for unhealthy bacterial growth increases.

Step 5

Use your common sense regarding the sanitary conditions in restaurants and food stands to avoid an upset stomach or traveler's diarrhea. If the establishment appears dirty, contamination of the food is likely. Go somewhere else to eat.

Step 6

Ask your doctor about taking a preventive medication before you travel. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does not recommend use of preventive antibiotics for TD due to the risk of contracting unrelated infection during travel. The CDC does acknowledge the fact that bismuth-based medications can help prevent and treat traveler's upset stomach.

Things You'll Need

  • Pot

  • Stove

  • Bottled beverages

  • Medication


Is This an Emergency?

If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, please see the National Library of Medicine’s list of signs you need emergency medical attention or call 911. If you think you may have COVID-19, use the CDC’s Coronavirus Self-Checker.