Tips on how to not get food poisoning on Bali

How to avoid the Bali Belly – Advice you should digest

One of the biggest fears that I have traveling to countries with lower hygiene standards is being knocked out by food poisoning. You enjoy a good nice meal or a cocktail on the beach and a couple hours later you are sweating on the hostel toilet (if you make it that far) and are vomiting the shit out of that paper bag where a couple minutes ago your newly bought bikini was waiting to be put on. Accompanied by stomach cramps and fever, food poisoning literally makes you want to cry. For this typical phenomenon, backpackers have developed a special Bali name for the illness: Bali Belly. It sounds cuter than it is. Learning how to avoid the Bali Belly is one of the best info you can research before stepping on the plane. Even though there is no way that you can never be completely sure if you are going to get unlucky, some truths will minimize the risk. If you were inspired by my latest article on why you should travel to Bali by yourself, read this and you can scratch that off your preparations list.

PS:  So far, I have never had any mayor knockouts with these strategies. The only horrible food poisoning that I have ever caught was on a hot summer day eating duck in Strasbourg, France. Who would have thought?

Starting with a couple NO-NO's, girls. This does NOT mean that you should always avoid them. Just apply common sense and be a little bit more careful when it comes to these. Here we go:

1.    No tap water!

Under absolutely no circumstances you should drink tap water. Do not keep your mouth open while showering and if you really want to be sure/extreme: do not brush your teeth with it. When I had an accident on Bali, the water infected my wounds because I could not bring myself to stay away from the shower for more than two days. If you do have bigger wounds that you cannot cover during your shower, get distilled water in the pharmacy and wash them out thoroughly.

2.    No ice cubes!

And with no ice cubes, I mean no ice cubes from sketchy places. On Bali, I assume that most of the greater tourist areas have adapted and do not make ice cubes themselves with tap water. If they look like they were self-made, do not touch your drink and ask for a new one. There is nothing better than an ice-cold Coke on a hot day, however, if you can avoid it, leave out the ice cubes. Even if they were store-bought, they are still a perfect breeding base for bacteria. On Gili Air, they cut the electricity a couple hours a night, either to save it or because of other reasons. The more sophisticated restaurants and bars had a roaring generator up and running. For smaller restaurants that might not be the case. And what melts and goes bad when the power goes out? Right. Ice-Cubes. Ice-Cream. Meat. Fish. Stick to the popular places if you want to be sure!

3.    No fruit or salad that was washed with tap water

This is kind of a tough one, how are you going to find out if it really was washed with tap water? Again, popular places know not to ruin their reputation with a food poisoning review epidemic, thanks to review-websites such as TripAdvisor & Co. Basically, trust your gut. And if you feel better, watch the bartender make your juice. My favorite: Watermelon. No Ice. Just Ice Cold Watermelon.

4.    Only popular Street Food

How to avoid the Bali belly - eat a fully cooked Nasi Goreng.  YUM!

How to avoid the Bali belly - eat a fully cooked Nasi Goreng.  YUM!

Do you see the locals lining up to get some of that delicious Nasi Goreng? Get in line! This is a good one. Even though this is a great tip, locals often tend to have a stomach that endures much more. You might get diarrhea just because you are not used to chili. A good rule of thumb is: If it is cooked and grilled all the way through, you are on the safe side.


What to do when you get food poisoning anyways

Medicine to take:

My go-to medication for just diarrhea is Imodium or active charcoal tablets. The best thing you can do is go to the pharmacy when you arrive and get something there. They are used to these kinds of cases and will know what to give you. You have a problem when you are vomiting and are having diarrhea at the same time because you neither will be able to put a suppository up your ass against the vomiting neither take a tablet to battle the diarrhea. In these cases, nothing is left to do but endure.

Keep drinking bottled water

You need to be careful, though. The biggest threat of food poisoning is getting dehydrated. If you have not improved at all after 24 hours or if you are experiencing high fever, you should see a doctor.

And Most of all: Do not get paranoia

For a real travel and cultural experience, you must try some of the local food and drinks. I regret not trying some, just because I feared food poisoning. You will relax with every day that you are abroad and get a sense of what are NO-GO signs. In the end, you cannot predict everything anyways.

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Author of this text is Larissa, founder of the Female Travel Collective, solo travel lover and convinced feminist!

Author of this text is Larissa, founder of the Female Travel Collective, solo travel lover and convinced feminist!

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