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There’s nothing I love more than traveling. Discovering new cultures and ways of life, exploring the outdoors, and trying new foods. Eating is an integral part of the travel experience, and discovering new flavors and foods can make you fall in love with a destination even more.
From eating Pad Thai on the streets of Bangkok, to taking a cooking class in India, some of my favorite travel memories have to do with food. But you know what I don’t love about traveling and eating in foreign countries?
Getting sick while you’re on the road.
I’ve had my fair share of stomach-related illness while traveling, but nothing comes close to what I experienced a few months ago while traveling in Pakistan.
Something didn’t agree with me, and I spent more than half of my month in Pakistan feeling awful with a terrible case of travelers’ diarrhea. It got to the point that I wasn’t able to eat for days, and had to go to the hospital to be pumped full of antibiotics.
There’s nothing worse than being sick while you’re traveling, especially in a developing country. Long bus rides, camping at 3000m elevation, only having access to squat toilets. These are not situations in which you want to have travelers’ diarrhea.
Even though I took the standard precautions to avoid traveler’s diarrhea, I still managed to get sick multiple times throughout my trip. And these problems aren’t exclusive to Pakistan.
Travelers’ diarrhea is so well known that it has earned many nicknames around the world. India’s known for “Delhi Belly”, Mexico for “Montezuma’s Revenge”, while Egypt is “Pharaoh’s Revenge”. They all mean the same thing, and it’s something every traveler wants to avoid while on vacation.
So when I found out about Travelan, a new product proven to reduce the risk of travelers’ diarrhea by up to 90%, I was super excited.
I would have loved to have a product like Travelan while I was in Pakistan.
If you’re taking a trip overseas and wondering how to avoid getting sick, keep reading. This post will explain everything you need to know about traveler’s diarrhea, how to avoid it, and why Travelan should be in your packing list.
What is Traveler’s Diarrhea?
Traveler’s Diarrhea is a gastrointestinal illness that can occur while traveling. It’s usually caused by eating food contaminated with bacteria or, less commonly, with parasites and viruses.
The most common cause of travelers’ diarrhea is E.coli, which can be found anywhere from street stalls to 5-star restaurants. Yes, really. I’ve gotten sick in some of the nicest resorts in the world.
Once the bacteria or virus gets in you, symptoms typically start soon after. The main symptom is abrupt watery, loose or semi-formed stools. You may also experience bloating, cramping, nausea, vomiting, or a fever. It’s a whole lot of going to the bathroom and the last thing you want to happen on your vacation.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Traveler’s Diarrhea is the most common travel illness. It can happen anywhere in the world, but the highest-risk destinations are in Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Mexico, Central, and South America. Basically, if you’re traveling outside of the Western world, you have a high chance of getting traveler’s diarrhea. Although it’s rarely serious or life-threatening, it can make a trip very unpleasant.
How to Avoid Traveler’s Diarrhea
These are some precautions you should take to avoid traveler’s diarrhea:
- Eat food that is cooked and served hot. Avoid raw fruits and vegetables unless they are peeled or washed in clean water.
- Avoid drinking tap water and ice unless you are sure it’s clean. Drinking bottled water is the easiest way, but I try to minimize my plastic product consumption to travel more sustainably. Instead, use a Lifestraw which can make any water drinkable.
- Wash your hands with soap and water before eating and after using the bathroom. If a washroom isn’t available, use hand sanitizer.
But even with these precautions, it’s still possible to get sick. Let’s face it, you don’t always know where your food is coming from, and most of us want to be adventurous and try the street food. It’s often the best! Plus, only eating in high-end restaurants doesn’t guarantee that you won’t get sick.
That’s why I’m so excited to discover a solution to reduce the risk of traveler’s diarrhea, no matter where you are – Travelan!
How does Travelan reduce the risk of Traveler’s Diarrhea?
Travelan contains bovine colostrum enriched with E.coli antibodies, which neutralizes travelers’ diarrhea-causing pathogenic bacteria, rather than having to treat the symptoms after the condition has begun (which doesn’t always work well).
When you take Travelan before a meal, it’s anti-E.coli antibodies lay in the gastrointestinal tract. If you consume food or drinks that are contaminated with E.coli, Travelan will bind to the bacteria, neutralizing them and inhibiting their attachment to the intestinal wall.
Travelan has also been clinically tested to confer up to 90% protection against Traveler’s Diarrhea. Travelan has also been shown to cross-react with other bacteria including Salmonella, Shigella, and Campylobacter, which are some of the main bacterial causes of travelers’ diarrhea.
Travelan is a highly purified preparation of naturally occurring antibodies. The proteins that prevent and fight infection do not destroy the microbiome of the gastrointestinal tract, unlike antibiotics. Travelan does not negatively impact the essential microbiota of the gut and will not lead to antibiotic resistance, which is an increasing concern worldwide.
When and where you should take Travelan
If you’re traveling in high-risk countries for traveler’s diarrhea, it’s recommended to take Travelan once before each meal. This way, Travelan antibodies will lay in wait in the gastrointestinal tract, ready to neutralize any incoming bacteria should you ingest it.
The directions state to take one or two tablets of Travelan before each meal, three times per day, starting 48 hours before travel and during the period of travel. Travelan should always be used in addition to the normal precautions I mentioned above.
How to get Travelan
In Australia, Travelan is an over-the-counter medication listed by the Therapeutic Goods Administration to reduce the risk of Traveler’s Diarrhea. If you’re from Australia, you can buy it online here.
Is Travelan Safe?
The main ingredient in Travelan is bovine colostrum which is a dairy product. Therefore, you should not use Travelan if you have an allergy to bovine protein or are lactose intolerant due to the presence of milk proteins and lactose.
Because this product does have dairy in it, you may be wondering about the animal health and welfare of this product. The makers of Travelan (Immuron) are partnered with Synlait, a dairy company based in New Zealand. According to their website, Synlait only partners with certified dairy farmers which exceed New Zealand’s Animal Health and Welfare standards.
What to do if you get sick
While following these tips and taking Travelan should help you avoid getting travelers diarrhea, it’s always a good idea to carry a medical kit with you in the event that you do get sick. This way, you don’t have to worry about finding a pharmacy in a foreign country, or not being able to find the medicine you want. Here are some items to pack in your medical kit that will help if you get travelers’ diarrhea:
- Oral Rehydration salts. Travelers’ diarrhea causes you to lose a lot of fluids and it’s important to keep hydrated not only with water but with oral rehydration salts.
- Over-the-counter medication such as Immodium to manage the symptoms. These medicines can help decrease the number of times you need to go to the bathroom, making it easier to travel.
- Antibiotics*. You can get a prescription from your doctor beforehand if you tell them you’re going to a high-risk area for travelers’ diarrhea.
*However, the International Society of Travel Medicine guidelines for treating Travelers Diarrhea states that antibiotics should NOT be used routinely, except in patients at high risk of complications.
Traveling to new countries is one of the most wonderful things you can do, and you shouldn’t let the fear of getting sick stop you from going somewhere exotic. By utilizing the tips mentioned and taking Travelan, it can help prevent unwanted instances of traveler’s diarrhea. If you’re a frequent world traveler or food adventurous like me, then Travelan is an absolute must!
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Disclaimer 1: The medical information is provided for general informational and educational purposes only, and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider.
Disclaimer 2: This post was kindly sponsored by Travelan. As always, all opinions are my own and I only recommend products I use myself and 100% stand by.