In the months leading up to my India trip the common reactions I got when I told people I was headed to India were “don’t die”, “don’t get some crazy parasite”, “oh wow”, “be careful” and more rarely “that’s awesome”. With all this pessimism trying to dampen my vibes I did some research on staying healthy in India. After scrolling through a variety of pages about “crazy parasites and diseases found in India” I found some startling statistics. Around 50-70 percent of travelers get the infamous “Delhi Belly” (Indian version travellers stomach). So statically either my buddy and I were doomed to get sick. Well, I’m happy to report we didn’t and we weren’t particularly careful either. We were smart picking mostly places with good Trip Advisor reviews but we didn’t hold back from eating meat like almost every travel advice preaches against. One of the best parts of travel is trying their local cuisine so I don’t believe it’s worth limiting yourself from whole areas of food because at the end of the day some other food could take you down. Anyways beyond some strong stomachs and a bit of luck, here is how we avoided getting sick in India.
1. Carry hand sanitizer- little pocket hand sanitizers were critical in India. With so many people touching things and not good safety standards hand sanitizer is a must.
2. Look up restaurants on TripAdvisor- I use this site religiously when I travel. Seeing what other travellers thought of places and going into a restaurant knowing it clean and repeatable is massive.
3. Don’t Eat Street Food- although this is an major part of experiencing food in a country, its just not worth it. A lot of the food sits out for a long time, hasn’t been properly stored or is just lower quality product. It may taste excellent but your stomach just isn’t prepared for it.
4. Bottled Water- This is more of common sense but you must drink all your water from bottles in India. This includes brushing your teeth with bottled water.
5. Boiling Water Completely- Be careful when you get coffee or tea that the water has actually been boiled and not just warmed up. To kill all the nasty things in the water it must of reached and stayed at boiling point a couple minutes.
6. Showers- when showering you have to be careful not to get the water in your mouth. This is challenging but swallowing a couple of drops of water could land you in bed sick or with a new parasite friend.
7. Be Careful On the Streets- I can confirm that there is actually fecal matter on the streets. Be careful where you walk as I slipped and nearly fell into a pile of it.
Use judgment. Don’t let being paranoid about getting ill hold you back on your trip as it’s the people that spend their trip stressing and worrying that end up getting sick. India is a unique and incredible country that has so much to offer. Follow these basic tips and implement some common sense and you will hopefully beat the odds as well. Have fun!