What to do if You Get Food Poisoning While Traveling

On my recent trip to Kenya I became very ill, very quickly. It turned out I got food poisoning or some type of bacterial infection that caused me to become very ill. I was so ill that I literally couldn’t move for about 30 hours and lost about 10 pounds in one day. This was actually my 5th time getting food poisoning and each time it was abroad. So that got me thinking what to do if you get food poisoning while traveling.
What to do if You Get Food Poisoning While Traveling, food poisoning sucks, Allianz Travel Insurance
In each of my prior bouts with food poisoning, I just let it pass essentially. That means running to and from the bathroom, resting and then rehydrating by drinking as much as you can. I have never actually gone to a hospital in a remote area of a foreign country. Even when I’ve known I should have because I am nervous about the cleanliness standards of hospitals in developing nations-especially needles.
What to do if You Get Food Poisoning While Traveling, food poisoning sucks, Allianz Travel Insurance
In my recent case in Kenya, I should have gone to the hospital and gotten IV treatment. I know this and told the doctor just that. However, the Kenyan doctor and clinician I did see did not make me feel comfortable about their treatment methods. To be honest, they couldn’t even figure out how to take my blood pressure so there was zero shot they were sticking needles in me.

So I made the decision to deal with it and rehydrate myself (as you can see below) after calling my doctor back in the States. I knew I wasn’t going to die as I’ve had this before. Food poisoning is easy to self diagnose but it really sucks. So this episode got me thinking.
What to do if you get food poisoning while traveling, rehydrate, Allianz Travel Insurance
As many of you know I am an ambassador for Allianz Travel Insurance so I asked them what to do if you get food poisoning while traveling and here is exactly what they told me.

Food poisoning takes many forms from inconvenient to requiring medical treatment. If you had become so ill that you thought you needed medical treatment, you should call us and speak to one of travel assistance specialists. They will find the closest, appropriate medical facility for your condition and will arrange to transport you there if necessary.

They can also put you in touch with a member of our travel assistance medical team, who can help you decide if you can treat yourself or seek treatment at a hospital or clinic. If you do go to a doctor, save your receipts so that you can file a claim for reimbursement when you return.

Should you need to be admitted to a hospital, we would guarantee your payment to the hospital so that you don’t have to pay upfront for your care. We’ll also talk to your doctor to make sure you’re getting proper care. In extreme cases where you need to return home, we’ll arrange and pay for your transportation, up to the limit of your policy.

I thought this was a great answer and illustrates the importance of and why you need travel insurance. It’s nice to have someone in your corner, especially someone with a global reach; which is a big reason why I use Allianz Travel Insurance over others.
What to do if You Get Food Poisoning While Traveling, food poisoning sucks, Allianz Travel Insurance
Food poisoning sucks. Believe me it does. I’ve had it in Venezuela, India, Iran, The Sudan and now Kenya. It is an awful thing to go through but it happens when you travel around the developing world no matter how careful you are-and I am very careful what I eat. Sometimes you can’t control it though-meaning I have no clue where I got it or what I ate. But you deal with it and it’ll pass.

Travel insurance is so important when you get sick because it can give you guidance and give you options if you utilize it. Even if you’re traveling alone as I was 3 of 5 times I got food poisoning, you feel like you have someone there for you and that peace of mind is worth a hell of a lot.

Disclaimer: I receive financial compensation from Allianz Travel Insurance as an ambassador along with my company, The Travel Trifecta. However, this article was written by me based on real life experience that was certainly not planned and my opinions expressed have not been influenced in any way.

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  1. I just found your blog through a friend who shared your Facebook post. Sorry to hear you got food poisoning and glad you’re better now. I’ve been on your website reading post after post for the last hour! You’ve led quite the life and you now have a new reader, fan, and follower. Nice to meet you!

  2. Getting sick traveling in a remote country is the worst thing ever, you feel completely helpless. Glad you’ve recovered and are enjoying New Zealand.

  3. Pretty good percentages, as you are extremely careful. But still, first you feel like you are going to die, and then you are afraid you won’t. So sorry, what a cleanse.

  4. We had this happen on our honeymoon. Picked up something in Cape Town, knocked me out for our first safari and Alex for most of Singita. Hotel doc in Seychelles helped kick it with Cipro.

  5. A really good friend of mine got food poisoning 2 years ago in Mexico (salmonella) and then travelled to Hong Kong without getting treated (bc he didn’t want to miss trip, and just thought it was flu or something). It progressed to typhoid fever (who knew that was caused by salmonella?) and he ended up dying in HK bc he waited so long to go to the hospital. 35 years old. It was a nightmare. Point being, never mess with that stuff. Take care of yourself in all those crazy places you travel to! You never know when something is more serious than you think.

  6. Mark Lee, MD, JD says

    By food poisoning I assume you mean nausea with or without vomiting and maybe diarrhea. You’re right, Lee, hydration is key. There are oral dissolving antiemetic (anti-nausea) medications that can be very helpful, probably more so than immediate use of antibiotics. I take some with me for all international travel.

  7. After some serious food poisoning in India, a woman gave my friend and I grapefruit seed extract in water. Apparently it kills everything in your gut. It was the only thing that stopped our pain and projectile fluids. I carry it with me when I travel. Have you tried it?

  8. Learnt my lesson too many times and now always carry antibiotics with me. Whilst I forgive some places (Kyrgyzstan, thailand), India is unforgivable.

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