Hello! In this blog post, we will talk about one of the biggest setbacks when travelling : Traveller's Diarrhoea! We shall call a spade a spade in this post, and there may be a little bit too much information, and if you are squeamish about toilet talk -- well, I suggest you still read on because this is an essential topic to cover if you travel extensively!
I’ve heard it said before that you’re not considered a full-fledged traveller until you’ve experienced one of the following travel delights: Montezuma’s Revenge, The Aztec Two-Step, or Delhi Belly (or Bali Belly).
And as much as they’re considered the hallmark and badge of being a true blue traveller, I’ve definitely had those moments and I can tell you that I’m not too proud of them.
80% of the time, these bouts of traveller’s diarrhoea are brought about by reckless or overly adventurous eating. I have no one but myself to blame, and while I can laugh about them now, it was a major pain in the butt (all pun intended!) and I absolutely wasted a lot of days being incapacitated.
There are two poignant gut-wrenching moments that I can recall vividly. I will spare you the gritty details, but in a nutshell, one is in Malaysia, when I overdosed myself in heaps and heaps of seafood (though this was a separate trip, you can read about my Malaysian food trip here.). Seafood is normally good, but when done in unhealthy doses ( I’m talking a week of non-stop gorging) and as most of them were deep-fried, it wasn’t too surprising that I ended up in the hospital for an emergency enema. (yikes!)
To say that it was not the most comfortable of experiences is quite the understatement. I wish to never have to go through that again, and I’m happy to report that I haven’t had another enema after that episode.
So after my “Malaysian Invasion” disaster, you’d think I would have learned my lesson right? Well I did, for a few years.
Then I find myself in Vegas, happily vacationing and happily lining up for what the Sin City is best known for next to casinos — the seafood buffet.
In just a couple of days, I found myself doubled over in pain in my hotel room. This time, on top of mild stomach pain, my joints were especially painful. When we got to Los Angeles, a pharmacist noted that my symptoms were similar to mild gout. Gout!
A couple more days’ rest, a bunch of powerful painkillers and eating healthily got me back to normal, but this VeGAStro episode became my turning point. It’s been 9 years since this mishap, and I’ve been very careful to never indulge so irresponsibly again.
What was the takeaway lesson?
Unfortunately, there is truth in the notion that we only learn when we get burnt.
My Las Vegas incident really burned me big time. Since then, I’ve (knock on wood) never had another Delhi / Bali belly saga.
There was a time that I started eating really safely (not necessarily healthily) and restricted myself to hotel food. And while it was beautifully lazy and indulgent, it soon became pretty boring. I missed the adventure of eating local, in local joints, and yes– part of that adventure was knowing whether you will get a stomach upset with a bite or not.
So I got myself in a bit of a quandary: I eat adventurously: I get burned. I eat safely: I get bored.
Then I realised that focusing on prevention may be the key to having your cake and eating it too.
Focus on Prevention, Not Relief: Hello, Travelan
Not that I’m a self-proclaimed veteran of stomach mishaps, but I realised that there are a plethora of medication out there formulated for relief of stomach upset, and not much for prevention of the upset in the first place.
I came across Travelan, and realised I’ve found the key to travelling adventurously without having your tummy to pay for it.
What is Travelan?
Known as the “travel insurance for your belly”, Travelan is an oral antibody therapy developed to target harmful bacterial components (endotoxin lipopolysaccharide) in the human gastrointestinal tract.
How does Travelan work?
If, like me, you are a visual person, perhaps this will help you get a better picture of what Travelan does:
To comprehend how Travelan works, it’s first important to know HOW Travelan is taken.
Because Travelan is a preventative oral antibody therapy, you start taking Travelan 48 hours prior to travel, and continue taking it three times per day during your travel period.
When you take Travelan before a meal, it “lays in wait” in your gastrointestinal system, so that if you consume food or drinks that contaminated with bad bacteria, Travelan will bind to that bacteria and their toxins, neutralising them before they can attach to your intestinal wall.
In other words, Travelan allows you to eat “recklessly” (ok, I mean adventurously) and still be protected.
Travelan is a listed medicine on the Australian Register for Therapeutic Goods (AUST L 106709), indicated to reduce the risk of Travellers’ Diarrhoea and reduce the risk of gastrointestinal orders.
Still, it is important to note that Travelan is NOT an antibiotic and will not cause antibiotic resistance.
You have more freedom when your gut is protected
I confess that yes, I have travel regrets and those include the times I irresponsibly ate (ok, some were by sheer accident). Because my time spent nursing myself back to health is holiday time and money wasted. Money returns but you could never turn back time.
If I had travelled with Travelan during those times, I sure could have saved myself from a lot of pain and wasted time!
Even if I’m not exactly a foodie, a huge part of making a travel experience enriching is immersing yourself in a country’s culture, which food is a huge part of. Through a country’s food, we can understand its people better, get a bite of a place’s history and influence.
Many times, I have missed out on trying different kinds of food when travelling in great fear that it may lead to yet another stomach-churning episode.
And while Travelan is by no means a magic pill which will make your stomach invincible (you still have to exercise a degree of common sense and caution), it will definitely allow you freedom to be more adventurous and more carefree in your travels.
Making Travelan a part of every travel
I’m not blessed with a stomach of steel, and if you are, I envy you. This is why I’ve ensured that I will make Travelan a must-pack from now on, especially when I know I will be embarking on a food trip.
Australians can purchase Travelan from major pharmacies across Australia (Priceline, Chemist Warehouse etc) and online. US readers can purchase Travelan from Passport Health Clinics and online on Amazon.
Now if only somebody can come up with a preventative tablet that traps calories from everything that you eat — I’ll be the first to sign up for it!
Which country do you reckon has the best food– one that’s worth getting Montezuma’s Revenge for? And have you yourself experienced any gut-wrenching travel horror episodes?
This post was written in partnership with Travelan, but all opinions are mine.