I have never been more ill on my travels than on my first visit to Bali. Without being too graphic, both my friend and I found ourselves fighting for the bathroom and hotel bound for several days after liberal consumption of cocktails with stomach-upsetting ice cubes. (The cheap local spirits probably didn’t help either!) Needless to say, I am much more cautious on my travels now, especially in areas like Bali where the water, food and climate are known for upsetting tourists’ sensitive bellies.
There are a number of ways you can reduce your risk of Bali belly and one, I’ve recently discovered, that is guaranteed to reduce the risk of travellers’ diarrhoea. These are my top tips for avoiding Bali belly and staying healthy when you are travelling.
Top Tips For Avoiding Bali Belly
Buy Bottled Water
The main culprit for travellers’ diarrhoea in Bali is the tap water so your best bet is to stick to filtered or bottled water, even when brushing your teeth. I was really pleased to note on my recent trip to Bali that a lot of resorts are providing safe drinking water in guest rooms – we had a whole water cooler in our apartment at Canggu and jugs of filtered water were regularly refilled in our hotel in Ubud. (Good for both your belly and the environment!) If you’re not staying somewhere as thoughtful, pop to the supermarket on the first day of your trip and buy a few litre bottles so you’re never stuck without safe water.
Similarly, many resorts are also doing their best to keep guests healthy by using safe drinking water in their ice cubes. But not all venues are created equal! If in doubt about whether the ice is safe to drink, either check with your server or avoid them altogether.
Up Your Hygiene
It’s good practise to up the ante on your usual hygiene habits – by that I mean washing hands thoroughly with soap before eating/after using the loo and using hand sanitiser at regular intervals. For those travelling with children, you might also like to pack Dettol wipes and clean surfaces, like the front of shopping trolleys, that your kids may come into close contact with.
Watch What You Eat
If you’ve ever travelled to India you’ll know that travellers have lots of theories about what you should or shouldn’t eat when travelling to places like Delhi and Bali but, in my experience, nothing is fool proof in this regard! Some basic practises to bear in mind are to make sure any meat consumed is cooked thoroughly and to stick to fruit that can be peeled if there is any question about whether the items were rinsed in local water.
Personally, I tend to scout TripAdvisor for restaurant reviews from fellow travellers and will stick to local dishes where possible as these are likely to have the freshest/most local ingredients. (The same friend who came to Bali with me got very sick in India after eating some ravioli with ingredients of dubious origin.)
Be Prepared With Travelan
Sometimes all this caution is not enough and rather than carry medication that deals with the problem I’d rather take something that stops it developing in the first place. On my recent trip to Bali I packed a box of Travelan, which is clinically proven to reduce the risk of Travellers’ Diarrhoea (TD). You simply take one all-natural caplet before each meal for protection against the major strain of E. coli that causes TD by up to 90%. It costs just $30 for a box of 30 caplets, which seems a very fair price to pay for the knowledge you can enjoy your holiday without any discomfort or mad dashes to the bathroom.
The active ingredient in Travelan is hyper-immune bovine colostrum enriched with anti-ETEC antibodies, which is gluten free, and personally I think this is a game-changer for anyone travelling to areas that are a high risk for TD. (That’s you India, Bali, India, Egypt etc.) Travelan is also the only over the counter preventative that is a non anti-biotic – all other products are either post diarrhoea solutions (Imodium) or subscription vaccine (Dukoral).
Although I was still mindful of the best practices mentioned above it was wonderful to be a little more relaxed about what I ate and how far I ventured from bathroom facilities in Bali. Having learned the hard way what a lax attitude to traveller health can lead to, I took comfort in the knowledge I was protected by Travelan on this trip. Find out more about Travelan and purchase it online here in Australia (you can also buy it over the counter at high street pharmacies including Chemist Warehouse, Discount Drug Stores and Terry White) and here in the USA.
Disclosure: This post was written in conjunction with Travelan and Nuffnang AU. All opinions are my own.