6 Tips for Staying Healthy While Eating Abroad

A few rules of thumb can help keep you healthy while dining in foreign countries.

vietnamese pho with spicy sriracha sauce, picture
Go ahead and get the pho, just be smart.
Joshua Resnick / Shutterstock

So you’re headed to a distant destination off the tourist track, hungry for adventure but uncertain whether your stomach is strong enough? Don’t let your worries overwhelm your curiosity. “Go ahead and be a foodie,” says AAA Travel Agent Diane Habell-Jower. “Just be a smart foodie.” With a pinch of precaution you can explore new culinary ground without risking tummy troubles that could slow you down.

Think before you drink.

Stick with the bottled stuff to be safest, and opt for beverages without ice, which is often made with tap water.

​​​​​​​Take care with raw foods.

When in doubt, remember this timeless traveler’s axiom: Wash it, peel it, cook it, or forget it. “Always peel fruits and vegetables when you can,” Habell-Jower says. “And when you wash something, be mindful of the quality of the water you’re washing it in.

Pack your own snacks.

Don’t let hunger drive you to make questionable dining choices. Bring fuel for long days, such as dried fruit, nuts, energy bars, or jerky. These nibbles can tide you over until you find a reliable spot for a proper meal. “Ginger candy is another great choice,” Habell-Jower adds. “It’s good for settling a queasy stomach and can be added to tea as a sweetener.

Follow the crowds.

If you’re choosing between two restaurants, go with the busier place. The more popular an eatery is, the better the chance its kitchen serves the freshest food.

Consider your condiments.

Ketchup, mayonnaise, salad dressing, and other toppings are safest in sealed packages, rather than open containers. “I always travel with my own hot sauce,” Habell-Jower says. “It’s easy to pack and a great way to add instant flavor if you need it.”

​​​​​​​Be street-smart.

Many pushcart vendors and curbside kiosks serve tantalizing local delicacies. If you’re eating on the street, forgo cold or premade food in favor of items prepared hot on the spot.