One of the great joys of traveling is trying out new and exciting foods in the culture in which you immerse yourself. However, things don’t always work out after a delicious meal in a beautiful setting. Sometimes the result is far from beautiful. Trying new foods in a new place can lead to stomach problems or food poisoning, and nobody wants to be sick on their vacation. A recent study from Radical Storage revealed the top ten destinations where Americans are most likely to experience stomach troubles, and some of the results may surprise you.
65% of the Americans surveyed reported that they had experienced stomach sickness from eating or drinking while traveling. Of those who experienced stomach issues, over half said that it ruined 2-3 days of their trip. When spending hard-earned money to take a break from the day-to-day, a stomach bug can certainly do some serious damage to your wallet and your vacation. Below are the destinations Americans are most likely to have stomach issues and the percentage of respondents that reported having problems there.
These Are The Top 10 Destinations Americans Are Most Likely To Have Stomach Problems
1) Mexico (43.2%)
2) United Kingdom (33.1%)
3) Canada (30.7%)
4) Italy (22.1%)
5) France (21.5%)
6) China (17.4%
7) India (16.6%)
8) Spain (16.2%)
9) Germany (15.8%)
10) Dominican Republic (14.6%)
According to the study, the older you are, the less likely you are to experience stomach problems while traveling. This seems counter-intuitive since statistics tell us that you are more likely to experience health issues as you age. However, younger travelers are often more adventurous and willing to take risks with food and drinks. 31% of respondents who had gotten sick reported that they were confident they got sick after eating food from a vendor that was not a restaurant, such as a street food vendor.
Income also played a role in who fell ill and who did not. Respondents who earned more than $80,000 per year reported the least amount of stomach problems, implying that spending more on food and beverages decreases the likelihood of sickness. However, it’s impossible to prevent food-borne illnesses 100% of the time. Even five-star restaurants will have the occasional ingredient that ends with a customer being sick.
The clear “winner” for destinations where you are likely to experience stomach problems was Mexico, with 43% of respondents reporting that they had a problem there. Of those respondents, 31% said they would avoid future vacations to the area based on their experience. Many have heard of Montezuma’s Revenge, usually picked up from drinking tap water in Mexico. The illness only affects tourists and visitors as those native to the area are resistant to the bacteria that cause it. When traveling internationally, it is good practice to research whether or not the local tap water will affect you and try to stick to bottled water if you are uncertain. Despite the risks, 31.5% of respondents said that they would be willing to drink tap water while on vacation.
How To Prevent Stomach Illnesses
While there are never any 100% guarantees, you can take steps to protect yourself from falling victim to stomach illnesses while on vacation. Many Americans are not guaranteed vacation time, so making use of every moment while traveling is essential. Here are a few things you can do to lessen your chances of experiencing stomach trouble.
- Research the tap water. Many countries have tap water that is safe to drink for Americans. Still, knowing if your destination falls in that category is essential before you head out.
- Never eat undercooked meats.
- Stay hydrated. Your stomach functions best when adequately hydrated, so keep drinking water throughout the day.
- Wash your hands. If there is one thing that Covid drilled into everyone’s brains, it was to wash your hands. Gastroenteritis (the stomach flu) is most often transmitted by hands. If you are unable to wash, consider using hand sanitizer.
Regardless of your destination, if you take proper precautions, eat from reputable restaurants and groceries, and do your research, it is unlikely you will run into trouble.
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Disclaimer: Current travel rules and restrictions can change without notice. The decision to travel is ultimately your responsibility. Contact your consulate and/or local authorities to confirm your nationality’s entry and/or any changes to travel requirements before traveling. Travel Off Path does not endorse traveling against government advisories