9 Ways to Avoid Traveler's Diarrhea


Cindy Kuzma

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No one wants to bring an upset stomach along on their big trip. Take these precautions so you don’t spend vacation confined to your hotel room.

  • 1.

    Choose Safe Destinations

    If you spend two weeks in central or northern Europe, the United States, Canada, Japan, or Australia, your risk of traveler’s diarrhea is 8% or lower. But head to the Middle East, southern Asia, Central and South America, and Africa, and your odds leap as high as 90%. Note that people from countries with high sanitary standards have higher traveler’s diarrhea rates than those from less developed countries.

  • 2.

    Stay A While

    Your risk of contracting a stomach-churning virus is highest in the first week of your visit, then levels off. If you’re living in another country, your odds decrease again after about a year. This is because your immune system builds defense against common germs in that area.

  • 3.

    Skip the Acid Suppressants

    Though stomach acid can cause heartburn, it also fights off harmful bugs. People who take over-the-counter or prescription medications to treat acid reflux are more likely to contract traveler’s diarrhea.

  • 4.

    Turn Off the Tap

    If you’re in a high-risk area, use bottled or treated water for drinking and for brushing your teeth. Make sure your drinks don’t contain ice made from tap water. Best advice is to skip ice altogether. When feeding infants while traveling, breast milk is safest, if possible. If you use formula, boil tap water at least five minutes before mixing.

  • 5.

    Drink Smart

    Besides tap water, disease-causing germs can lurk in fruit juices, milk, and other unbottled drinks. Stick to sodas and other carbonated beverages, and sip only from bottles that were sealed. Boiled, hot, and chlorine-treated drinks are typically safe.

    smiling woman drinking bottled water outside