You might remember my recent trip to Romania that was supposed to be lovely (limonata!), until I spent almost the entire weekend in my hotel room with food posioning.
I’m not a doctor, but I can offer some tips if you find yourself in a similar situation! There’s a bit of pre-planning, some creativity and a bit of hotel-room resourcefulness. I’d love to hear your favorite food poisoning or travel sickness tips too – so leave them in the comments!
Know when you need help.
This is the most important rule: you need to know when you’re out of your depth. Dehydration is one of the biggest risks with food poisoning, so if you can’t keep any liquids down for more than 24 hours, have the hotel call you a doctor. Hotels are used to doing this, it’s no big deal. And better to catch it early than to let yourself get into a seriously dangerous situation while away from home. Most food poisoning runs its course in 24-48 hours. If your symptoms continue longer than this, or if you have a high fever, also call a doctor. Really. It’s not worth the risk!
Priority #1: Clean Water
Your body is sick, so you need to take it easy. Get a lot of rest (not that you can think of leaving your hotel room anyway!). And anything you do put in your body should be really high quality. The biggest risk is dehydration, so you must keep drinking water! But this is not the time to drink tap water. I called hotel room service and requested two big bottles of still water (ask for the big bottles, they usually sell two sizes.) Drink this, make tea with this, brush your teeth with this – don’t risk introducing more germs into your body right now.
If you’re alone, let someone know that you’re ill.
Tell the hotel reception that you’re ill. Send an email to someone at home letting them know, and providing the hotel contact details, just in case.
Since I was alone, I also kept track of what I was eating and when I experienced symptoms (on that little notepad by all hotel telephones), so I had a record in case things got worse.
My travel stash.
I always travel with some supplies which help in lots of different situations, including food posioning.
Chamomile tea - is good for settling your stomach, helping you sleep and relaxing you. When you’re feeling sick, it’s also a nice change from plain water.
Lavender essential oil - 5-10 drops of this into a hot bath was really relaxing and soothing. I also put a couple drops on my pillow to help me sleep.
I do carry anti-diarrheal medicine with me, but I prefer to let it run it’s course to get any offending bug/germs out of me (at least for a day or two, any longer and I’ll take some.) This is just my personal philosophy – talk to your doctor about it!
Hotel resources: minibar and room service.
When I couldn’t face eating solid food, I raided the minibar for cans of Coca Cola. I never drink soda, but I make an exception in situations like these. Coca cola has sugar and salt in it which provides some energy, and (who knew!) cola syrup was once a popular remedy for upset stomach! And personally, I find a slightly fizzy drink is helpful to settle my stomach. So I had a few cans of cola that weekend.
Once the worst was over, and I felt like I could eat a bit, I ordered dry toast and more water from room service:
“Hi, could I order some plain toast and a large bottle of still water please?”
“You want bread and water?”
“Just bread? And water?” (As if I was in a self-imposed prison camp.)
It cost me about $2, and they delivered it to the room. Perfect.
The next day I ordered a bowl of beef & vegetable soup, and just drank the broth. No way to tell if it was real homemade bone broth, but broth is easy to digest and the real stuff is super nourishing. In almost every country they have some version of a vegetable soup in broth. It’s my go-to choice when my stomach is feeling fragile.
When you start feeling better
When you feel well enough to venture out and eat again, go easy on yourself. Stick to drinking bottled water, and choose foods that are easy to digest and cooked. Choosing cooked foods for a few days lessens the chance of picking up another bug on a contaminated raw fruit or vegetable.
Also, continue to take it easy, rest, and get enough sleep. Your body wants to be healthy and will heal itself, if you give it the right environment.
Now it’s your turn. Have you ever been sick when you’re away from home? What are your favorite tips & tricks? Let us know in the comments!