International Travel: What To Do When You Feel Sick

International Travel feeling sick

You know that feeling when your body might be heading downhill?

That twinge of stomach uneasiness prompting you to slide your plate away or avoid eating altogether. That realization that you better go to your hotel room before you board the long tour group bus ride.

We’ve all been there. In fact, one in six Americans will suffer from food poisoning every year.

Normally your body will recover within a couple of days if it’s from food poisoning, but there are a few things you can do to minimize recovery time if you get sick. Dr. Douglas Massop of West Des Moines, Iowa, offers the following advice:

What to do when you feel sick abroad

  1. Stop eating solid foods as soon as the symptoms start to occur.
  2. Drink bottled water. In many parts of the world, the tap water might make you sick. If you are not a local who is accustomed to the native bacteria, consider drinking bottled water. provides great information on drinking water safety while traveling.
  3. Avoid any anti-diarrhea medication. This can be a viable option, but should only be taken under the guidance of a physician. Once you have successfully eaten and held down food and water, a fever reducer such as Ibuprofen may be taken to relieve any discomfort.
  4. Go to a medical facility if symptoms do not subside within 48 hours, become too severe, or you experience severe dehydration. Food poisoning usually runs its course after about 2-3 days. If vomiting, diarrhea or more severe symptoms such as a fever over 101 degrees do not subside, seek medical attention.
  5. If you need a doctor and have travel protection such as the Travelex Insurance Services plans: Travel Select and Travel Basic, you can call the 24/7 travel assistance team to track down the nearest hospital that meets Western medicine standards of care. If you do not have travel protection, find the contact information for the U.S. embassy or consulate in the country you are visiting. They may have a list of local physicians.
  6. Stay hydrated. After the initial wave of sickness, it is common to become dehydrated. It is important to stay hydrated and replenish any mineral losses by taking small sips of water or Gatorade.

Food Safety for the International Traveler

If you purchase travel protection from Travelex Insurance Services, our travel assistance and concierge service provided by On Call International will reach out to you and your physician to monitor your condition, and make sure you receive appropriate care. We also contact your personal physician and family at home if necessary or requested, to keep them up to date.

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