(From the comments, but moved here too: additional info from my dear husband, Doc G, a guest writer here this evening, and a personal favorite of mine!):
A couple of additional points to increase the odds of getting to the end of the trip successfully:
It’s probably not the obvious thing that gets most people, it’s the thing that sneaks under your radar.
Needless to say, only drink bottled water but be sure to check the seal on the bottle.
No seal, don’t drink it. Squeeze the bottle before you break the seal; if it hisses or leaks a little, the seal is broken, don’t drink it.
Avoid drinks with ice; that bit about bottled water cubes — right.
No smoothies or slushies.”I’ll have the fresh squeezed orange juice” gong! pineapple juice, gong!, tomato juice, gong!, lemonade gong!, iced tea gong!!.
Unless you know it comes directly out of a commercial container from which it’s poured in front of you (and then it’s OK), don’t risk the possibility that it’s from concentrate or homemade with water you won’t like later.
Don’t confuse American “healthy eating” with third world foreign country “healthy eating”. Not the same — and it’s only a week or two.
Canned or commercially bottled anything will be fine. Only eat food that is thoroughly cooked. Thoroughly washed is not good enough and in fact may be the source of problems — the contamination may come from the prep area or water itself.
You’re hungry and the waiter brings some tasty little appetizers. You nibble while you scrutinize the menu. Doesn’t matter, you’ve already lost.The main course may be very carefully chosen by you, safe and cooked and then you eat the side or garnish of “that looks interesting” and you’ve possibly just sealed your fate.
“But I like salad, and besides it’s good for you.” Gong!!!”I’m just going to eat healthy” Gong!
Uncooked thin skinned fruits and fresh vegetables (grapes, tomatoes, apples, pears, zucchini, carrots, lettuce etc., etc,) can harbor bacteria under their skin. Even the “good” restaurants are not going to wash them with bottled water. Spam, Oreos, Twinkies and beer will treat you better.
If something comes that you are suspicious of, don’t make a stink or even call attention to it, just leave it alone and congratulate yourself for your vigilance and the fact that you’ve avoided getting sick for only the cost of that item — oh how you’ll long for that deal if you miss it on the first pass!
Take your pepto capsules before everything you eat or as soon after if you forget no matter where you eat.
Ask your PCP for a Ciprofloxacin or Bactrim DS prescription and get it filled to take with you.
One or two doses at the very first sign or even preventively if you suddenly realize what you ate is much easier and more effective than trying to get rid of the problem once established. (Do not get Bactrim if any of you have sulfa allergy — get the cipro)and take 8 pepto capsules per person per day with you plus extras to give to the poor fellow travelers who forgot or didn’t know to bring them. Two capsules before every meal or non commercial snack without exception. (Five of us for 11 days; 55 times 8 equals 440 capsules. They come in 48 capsule bottles, consolidate and put them in everybody’s backpack so you always have them. This is one of the secrets we docs use on medical mission trips.
Do it and you can just be vigilant not paranoid.
It will be an awesome trip, but you will enjoy and experience very little after the moment you get sick — so, an ounce of prevention.
P.S. Immodium is helpful to decrease the frequency of visits to the bathroom, or if one simply has a sensitive system. However, if you have an intestinal infection you defeat your body’s natural attempt to rid you of it partly by decreasing the volume of bacteria in there, and can make yourself less trips but actually sicker longer.
God Bless! TLG, M.D