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How To Not Get Sick While Traveling Abroad

Posted by Emily Cummings on 6/18/17 8:53 PM

ILP China

Have plans to get sick while traveling? I didn’t think so. No worries, we have the tips you need to stay in tip-top shape during your travels.

So no one likes being sick — especially when you have an awesome vacation planned. It’s awful to be sniffling with a cold instead of smiling in Paris. Or being too sick to even think about pierogis in Poland let alone eat them. Not feeling well enough to run around Kiev, Ukraine. Having tummy troubles that stop you from hanging out in these rad cafes. Get the picture? Not the ideal vacation by a long shot.

Speaking of Europe…have you ever wanted to live there? Not just take a trip but live there? Think about teaching English and living here as a volunteer –— ILP has 5 schools in Europe that you’re sure to love. Get an idea of what living in Ukraine is like with this free guide! 

So, now that you’ll be living abroad, you’re going to need to know how to stay well the whole semester long, right?

While you can’t completely eliminate the risk of getting ill at home or abroad (and it is normal to feel a little off while traveling), you can keep these tips in mind to help you stay as healthy as possible no matter where you are in the world: 

  • Take Care Of Yourself!
  • Eat The Right Foods
  • Wash Your Hands
  • Consult With Your Doctor
  • Bring Hand Sanitizer 

Take Care Of Yourself!

I know you want to cram every second of your day siteseeing — but you need to take care of yourself when you’re away from home. That means getting enough sleep, eating right, drinking enough water and exercising. The good news is all these things are very do-able even with a tight itinerary. Get your exercise by hiking the Norwegian Fjords, take a sip of water for every statue you see in Russia, check out the fruit in the Caribbean and get enough sleep so you can wake up on time to see the sunrise on the Great Wall in China.

Easy, right? 

ILP Dominican Republic

Eat The Right Foods

You can help keep yourself healthy while traveling by watching what you eat (and drink). In a lot of countries it’s not OK to drink the tap water, so plan on buying bottled water. It’s also a good idea to stay away from fruits and vegetables you eat with the skin on (things like bananas are safer than apples, because you don’t eat the outside). Lots of times, these fruits and veggies are washed with (you guessed it), tap water.

Eating foods that are cooked all the way through is also smart, so skip out on raw fish ceviche while in Mexico. While we love  street foods - (yummmmmmmm) if you're not used to a country's foods (aka you're a tourist traveling through), your chances of that food not sitting well with your stomach go way up.

If you're worried about getting sick, do some research on your country's street foods or just skip any sketchy looking carts all together. However I will say you're usually safer with dessert type treats rather than meat filled snacks.


Wash Your Hands (Lots)

Seems obvious, right? You’ll be exposed to a lot of new germs while traveling. Even just being on a plane with a lot of people for a long time can expose you to a lot of germs that can get you sick. Just like you would during cold and flu season at home, wash your hands lots while traveling. 

ILP Russia

Consult With Your Doctor

It’s not a guarantee you will get sick if you don’t get immunized, but it may help keep you safer from those big and scary foreign diseases. Before you go, talk to your doctor about getting immunized for the diseases that are common where you will be traveling.

It's also pretty normal to feel just a bit off while you travel. It could be the change of food, or the jetlag, so it's just extra important to keep yourself healthy by eating right and taking care of your health while abroad. 

ILP Europe

Bring Hand Sanitizer

When you travel, your hands touch everything….and I mean everything. The metro, rented bike handles, cafe table tops and pretty (but dirty) foreign money to name a few. While it’s not as good as a hand wash in a sink with soap and hot water, hand sanitizer can help you keep germs at bay. I also like traveling with wet wipes for when my hands are really dirty.

Lots of times food poisoning doesn’t come from the food, it comes from eating the germs on your hands. With your handy sanitizer, you can munch on ice cream in Poland with no worries. 

ILP Poland

Did you get all those? Lots of them are common sense but it’s a good reminder, even if these tips aren’t as fun as other parts of travel (like crossing world wonders off your list). But if you are looking for more travel tips, we’ve got you covered.

And if you want to spend a few months adventuring in foreign countries while teaching English to cute kids, we can help with that too. ILP has schools all over (like Haiti and Thailand and Romania…and more! See them all right here). If you’ve thought about living abroad for a semester, I say do it. You can talk to an ILP Representative to get help figuring out where you want to go, how to get help paying for it and get answers to your questions. Just click that button and get started! 

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Topics: Life Abroad

Exploring The World For Over 25 Years

Over the years of assisting more than 6,000 volunteers in their desire to travel and make a difference in the lives of others, ILP has seen what works and what doesn't.

We've gathered our tips here for making your semester abroad a successful one.


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