How to Avoid Stomach Issues on the Road

how to avoid stomach issues on the road

I walked by this chicken stand daily in Yangon, Myanmar. The chicken sat in the intense heat and humidity of the city for hours on end. A veritable breeding ground for nasty stomach gremlins. I will pass, thank you.


How to Avoid Stomach Issues on the Road


First off, the title is not totally accurate.


Staying healthy is optimal. Or, do not try to avoid sickness, because where your attention and energy goes, grows.


If you intend to avoid stomach issues you tend to attract stomach issues for what you fear deeply follows you around like a little puppy.


But for clarity purposes, you are reading because you want to avoid dreaded stomach illnesses on the road.


I get it.


I don’t know about you; I’d rather face all types of illnesses while circling the globe rather than tackle severe stomach issues. I am OK with garden variety or even hardcore diarrhea – doesn’t that sound lovely?  – and the Plain Jane dyspepsia that travelers often bitch and moan about. No big deal.


By severe stomach issues I mean: nausea and vomiting.


Although I have learned to embrace intense nausea and even projectile vomiting over the years, feeling like you are about to puke sucks to no end. Puking sucks even worse.


Sometimes you are bound to puke on the road; especially in third world, developing nations where hygiene issues abound.


After running into some nasty stomach stuff abroad – giardia and other wicked thingees that made me toss my cookies and feel quite terrible for a minute – let’s review a few tips to help you avoid these nightmarish scenarios.


1: Do Not Be a Total Germ Freak


I know; this is tough.


If you feel terrified to puke during your travels, the tendency is to become a germ freak.


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Reverse effect guys. If you carry a phobic, overpowering, intense fear of getting stomach sickness you will manifest the stomach sickness, like clockwork, eventually. I found myself in this boat a few times early during our world travels.


Take a deep breath.


Sure you want to be careful to avoid stomach stuff but in the same regard, focus on the concept and feeling of health to allow health to expand in your being.


Awesome way to feel healthy most of the time.


Note; yoga and meditation both help expand your awareness so you can focus on loving ideas/feelings with greater ease.


2: Heighten Your Powers of Observation


Burps. Deep burps. Really deep burps.


After enjoying a few fruit shakes in Chiang Mai, Thailand, I noted a trend; although I never felt nauseous after downing said shakes from a vendor in town, my stomach began to expand as if the Alien himself (herself?) grew within my gut.


Loud, burp contest winning, belches escaped from my mouth.


What gave? Thailand is pretty sanitary, food prep wise. Quite unlike 3rd world neighbors Laos and Myanmar, where health standards are….kinda low.


I calmly observed the lady prepping the shake during our next visit to the stand. Turns out, this woman did not bother to rinse the blender between shakes. Meaning the fruit juice and water mixture sat outside in 100 degree temperatures on damn humid days, growing a neat little microbe stew that found its way into my stomach.


Kelli and I skipped this lady. We found a shake guy who rinsed the blender between every shake. Stomach issues vanished.


No need to be hyper aware of hygiene but if you want to avoid stomach sickness, eat or drink in spots where you see hygienic conditions.


3: Eat ONLY at Popular Haunts with a High Volume of Foot Traffic


I learned about this one online a few months back.


So smart, and makes perfect sense.


Eat only at street stalls where the high customer turnover demands fresh food is prepared multiple times daily, ensuring that no food sits out in the heat and humidity for too long.


We enjoy Buddhist veggie fare at a little Thai place in Chiang Mai, in a Thai neighborhood. No tourists there, which is cool. Clean place so it gets the thumbs up but Kelli and I also eat there without any stomach issues because the spot is so popular that platter after platter of food is prepped and served multiple times daily. Fresh good gets eaten quickly and is replaced with fresh food, eaten quickly.


On the flip side, avoid low traffic eateries. Especially street stalls.


Especially in third world countries, vendors who are literally pinching pennies (allow for appropriate currency of course) will not throw out food that wasn’t eaten, allowing the grub to sit out in heat and humidity overnight, in some cases.


You can only imagine how quickly you can become violently ill when, say, food sits out overnight in the heat and humidity of Bagan, Myanmar, and you eat that shit. I chose Bagan, Myanmar, because I probably literally ate shit there, or something horrible, and fell terribly ill on the 11 hour bus ride to Inle Lake.