Previous Next

Photo: Evil Erin

Modern Gonzo and Matador Breaking Free host Robin Esrock shares 10 tips for iron-stomaching it through India.

IF THE THOUGHT of squatting over a hole for days on end is holding you back from one of the most incredible journeys of your life, I urge you to read this.

It is possible to travel extensively in India and avoid a case of Delhi (or Rishikesh, or Anjuna, or anywhere) Belly. What’s more, you’ll be able to eat some of the best food on the planet. I know this because I spent a month in the country, and while travelers around me seemed to drop like flies, I remained healthy.

This is not because I have a superhero gut of steel. It’s because I took some basic precautions, and stuck to them. Our digestive system just isn’t ready for the onslaught of foreign microbes you’ll find on the subcontinent. Over time it will adjust, but for travelers, here’s my plan to prevent a messy disaster:

1. Don’t drink the tap

Obviously, enough said.

Don’t freak out too much about that scene in Slumdog Millionaire where tourists are duped into buying bottled water straight out of the tap.

Most packaged water is fine — just check the cap to make sure it’s sealed.

Keep a bottle of drinking water handy for brushing your teeth. And ever important, watch out for ice in drinks.

2. Don’t eat meat

India is a country of vegetarians, where cooking sans animal flesh has been elevated to an art. You’re not going to miss beef, pork, or chicken, even though it is widely available.

Relish the veggie curries while staying clear of potentially contaminated meats.

3. Don’t eat uncooked cheese

Cheese is packed with nasty microbes. A friend of mine was doing great until she sprinkled some Parmesan on a pasta dish and spent the next 72 hours expelling fluids from every orifice.

Paneer is fine — it’s an Indian cheese cooked in many amazing curries. And pizza should be okay, so long as the cheese has boiled at some point.

4. Don’t eat eggs

Leave the sunny-side-up for treats back home. An undercooked egg will probably tie your intestine into a sailor knot.

5. Don’t drink milk

For some reason, most travelers deal well with lassi, the cold yogurt-based drink. However, it’s sometimes mixed with tap water and ice, so use your judgment.

Since dairy farming refrigeration is sometimes not up to the standards you’re used to, milk is a risky business. Do your gut a favour and take your coffee black.

Photo: e900

6. Don’t eat fish…unless you see it caught and cooked

On the coast, fish doesn’t come fresher, although you may want to make fully sure that’s the case before eating.

Uncooked fish or fish left sitting in the heat too long is going to mount an all-out attack on your immune system.

7. Don’t eat uncooked vegetables

Fortunately, most vegetables are cooked in curries so delicious your taste buds will dance a Bollywood musical.

Peeling fruit is another wise choice. And if you’re washing stuff, make sure you do it with packaged water.

8. Eat in tourist/upscale restaurants

A place with a good reputation and steady clientele usually knows the value of good hygiene, and the importance of keeping itself within the pages of the guidebooks.

When it comes to dining out, it pays to follow the advice of those who’ve come before you. The only time I ate meat was at a famous international hotel and it was fine.

I know you’re dying to eat street food like the locals — just be aware that locals can handle things in their tummies you probably can’t.

9. Wash/sanitize your hands regularly

And especially before eating. Just like your momma taught you.

10. Trust your gut

You could follow all of this religiously and still get sick. Or you might meet travelers who down whatever looks good and do just fine. Everyone’s system is different.

However, being paranoid about what you’re eating will definitely rob you of an awesome experience. India is no place for that.

The best way to deal with the sensory overload of color, smell, noise, and people is to relax, be patient, keep a sense of humour, and listen to what your gut is telling you.

Community Connection

Have you traveled to India? What do you think of Robin’s advice? Is it right on, or do you believe there are some travel risks worth taking?

Travel Safety


 

About The Author

Robin Esrock

Robin Esrock is currently writing his first major book release, The Great Canadian Bucket List. You can find him at www.robinesrock.com.

  • http://www.ephemeraanddetritus.com MaryAnne

    I have been very very lucky in my 16 years of often careless travelling and have never had any tummy problems (knock on fake wood paneling). I tend to eat veggie if not vegan and buy bottled water and whatnot so travelling in India treated me well. Your list is spot on but I have one caveat: in India, the only time my then-boyfriend and i had any problems with food was when his (Indian) family treated us to a meal at a posh place in Mumbai– he was sick for a week and I actually had tummy gurglings (rare for me). No idea which part of the lovely meal caused it but it definitely did a lot more harm than all the street thalis we’d had up til then.

  • http://www.canvas-of-light.com/ Daniel N.

    I don’t agree with most of the tips given here to be honest.
    I have travelled for a year now from Europe to Asia (now in Thailand) and I never fell sick even after eating any kind of food in shady restaurants. The only tip I’d keep is to avoid tap water.
    Following all these tips makes me feel like I’m not going to have fun in a foreign country (Eat in a tourist restaurant??).
    Eat different kind of foods in small portions, let your body get used to foreign bacterias not found in your home country, stay fit, drink a lot and everything will be fine :)
    Just my 2 coppers.

    • Stella Nova

      HEY… DanielH. The advice given  is EXCELLENT. I met people ( healthy 20 somethings) in Peru that has both salmonella and parasites. You can’t be too careful in places that are known to have problems …. LIKE INDIA. Eat Indian food in Thailand, where it is safer.  

  • http://vagabonderz.com Carlo Alcos

    If you’ll be in any developing country for an extended amount of time, I wonder if you’d be better off “trying” to get sick as soon as you landed. Get it out of the way.

  • http://www.coolideas101.com/ cris

    im planning to go in india.. thank you for the heads up…seems getting is expected when u visit there…first aid kit should always be on hand to be sure…

  • http://matadortravel.com/travel-community/nickrowlands Nick Rowlands

    While I agree with this list in theory, I don’t really agree with it in practice. It’s pretty standard advice given for travel around much of the world, and whilst I agree it’s super-important (especially somewhere like India) to be aware of what you eat, it’s also important not to get too carried away with this.

    I believe a lot of it is down to the intersection of chance and your individual constitution (I travelled India for six months and never got ill once; got violently ill my second day in Egypt). Having worked as a tour leader in Egypt, I saw groups eat the same food in the same places at the same time – some people got ill; others didn’t. I also think people are sometimes too quick to blame the food. It’s the transfer of nasties into body that makes you ill, which means any time your hand goes near your mouth (which is a lot more than you might think) you could ingest something you disagree with. People tend to be pretty good about washing their hands before eating, but how clean are they the rest of the day?

    For what it’s worth, I think points 1, 9 and 10 are most important, along with trying to stay generally healthy and drinking lots and lots of bottled water, and acclimatising to the local food slowly. (Eat veggie for a while before tackling meat or a salad – and make sure the salad’s not washed in tap water if somewhere you’re not used to it).

    As for upscale restaurants vs street food, it’s not really as simple as that. Places like 5 star hotel buffets are notorious for making people ill because the food is left sitting around, whereas you can watch the street food be whipped up in front of you, so at least you know it’s cooked and fresh and hot. Choose somewhere that is busy, and go slowly.

    Having said all this, I think it’s important to make the distinction between getting ill due to unfamiliar bacteria – which will probably ‘just’ give you the squits for a while – and actually contracting a disease through what you ingest, which could be a whole lot more serious.

    Good article, and interesting food for thought (sorry!) – I’m sure lots of other people will weigh in with opinions on this.

    Oh, and in Egypt ‘it’ is called Ramesses Revenge!

  • http://stophavingaboringlife.com SHABL – Rob

    Solid tips.

    I am going to India soon most likely and would not have thought of have of these. A few of my friends who came back from extended stays were craving steaks, now I know why. Not to mention they were insanely thin.

  • Stephanie

    I definitely disagree with almost all of these. When I studied abroad in Thailand, our program director said very matter-of-factly, “You’re all going to get sick at some point. Just accept it and move on.” (He was right, of course, although I got bronchitis, nothing food-related.)

    But what inevitably happened was my friends were worried about eating the cut fruit that a vendor offered next door to us. I rolled my eyes and told everyone that if you refuse to eat the street food in any Asian country, you’re going to be missing out on the best, cheap stuff.

    The only points I agree with are on drinking tap water and using your common sense. Other than that, have some fun. You’ll regret it MUCH MORE if you pass up on all the good stuff than if you try a few things and maybe have it not sit well.

  • http://benitasana.com Benita

    While I don’t totally agree with everything you’ve said here–except for the tap water and raw vegetables thing–I think the most important take away is to know where and exactly how your food is prepared. When I travel to Bangladesh, I rarely eat outside my family and friends’ homes to avoid getting sick.

    One thing I do want to add is to NEVER EVER eat food catered for large events. It’s impossible to keep quality control, and that does in visitors (at least in Bangladesh) every time, especially those who are there during wedding season–myself included one one unfortunate occasion. I just respectfully decline to eat at weddings, which usually have so many people, no one notices anyway…

    By the way, for all the commenters referring to Thailand, where a lot street-food and drinks are prepared with tourists in mind. I consumed tap water, drinks w/ ice, unpeeled fruit and street food in Thailand on many occasions with no repercussions. It’s a totally different scene than in the Subcontinent.

    • Stephanie

      I agree Thailand wasn’t particularly dangerous in terms of food, but I was equally non-cautious in Cambodia and still was fine. I drank water that I thought was not from tap (I was wrong) and that did trip me up a little, but I still stand by my previous points that exercising too much caution will defintiely detract from your food experience in any new country.

  • http://breathedreamgo.com Mariellen Ward

    Hi Robin,

    Nice to see you writing about India, and I will link to this post when I get my Resources page up and running.

    I agree with your tips in theory, and certainly if you are new to India, it is probably wise to be cautious.

    However… a lot think it a lot of what happens to us in life comes down to some mysterious combination of attitude and karma. The first time I went to India it was for six months, and I deliberately decided not to be too cautious as I wanted to get used to the germs. I didn’t get sick for many months, until I was in Dharamsala, and then EVERYONE got sick due to a bad water delivery. But I didn’t get nearly as sick as the other volunteers as I think I built up my defences by NOT being cautious.

    I write a lot about India — in fact my travel blog Breathedreamgo.com is all about India — and about how “magical” it is; how transformative the energy in India is. I don’t think India is like other places; I feel it is a very special place — the soul of the world, my Indian spiritual teacher says. And I think you need to be open to this energy for its “magic” to take effect.

    Your attitude is going to determine your experiences to a very large extent no matter where you go or what you do — but even more so in India,

    I always say that India is like the cave that Yoga sends Luke into. You will only find what you bring with you. Bring fear and you will be scared. Bring trust, openness and the willingness to be wowed — and you will be.

    Mariellen

  • Jessica

    A lot of good points but I tend to agree with most of the responses, in that you should be cautious but not so over-the-top that you miss out on the experience of the country you are in. You do point this out at the end of your article but I some people may take your tips to an extreme level of caution. I definitely drink only bottled water when I’m in countries with shady public water systems but I ALWAYS brush my teeth with tap water, I swear it helps build my tummy up to those foreign microbes! Great conversation starting article and always great to hear multiple experiences and tips from other travelers.

  • http://www.breakawaybackpacker.com Jaime

    I plan on spending a great amount exploring India while on my RTW adventure. These are great tips & I will be sure to use them when I am there.

  • Joseph

    Hi Robin

    Your article will definitely give a fright to all who plans to come to India. Anywhere you go eat moderately. What usually happens is Indian dishes will have lots of chilly and other spices which won’t go well with foreigners.

    About the water it is true you should buy reputed brands and see whether the cap is sealed. About the meat part, Indians make beautiful and tasty dishes like Pork Vindaloos but you have to see whether the place is clean before you go in.

    There are very good items like Puttu and Kadala, Etheckka Appam, Ela Appam etc. These are all specialities of Kerala. Robin if you are coming to India, I will be delighted to take you around my state Kerala.

  • Mo

    All points and good comments. However after 12 times in India I would say that posh places are no guarantee of clean food. If you can actually see the kitchen it’s often better.

  • Robin Esrock

    Thanks for all the comments. The idea was certainly not to scare people from going to India, but rather help with their fears of going to India. Too many people are afraid to go because they worry about the food. People get sick, but with a little common sense, it doesn’t mean you have to.

    You’ll be amazed how many people ask me if it’s OK to drink the tap water in Bolivia, or India, or Mozambique. Most of them don’t even drink the tap water at home!

    To clarify, eating in a nice restaurant isn’t a guarantee you won’t get sick (I’ve shared the same fate as others of making that mistake). But if you speak to other travellers and they vouch for an establishment, generally it’s a good sign.

    travel safe,
    Robin

  • Jon

    also, don’t forget to get your immunizations! i went to india for a friend’s wedding and one of my friends got typhoid fever, we’re thinking from the food from the train. however, i didn’t, even though we ate the same thing — because i got my shots. (he thought he was immune since he’s indian. ha, no.)

  • http://theqworld.blogspot.com/ Quinnette

    This seems more like the advice of a tourist than a traveler. If you are a tourist, staying in posh surroundings, then you probably will have a water wallah to hand you a fresh bottle when you become thirsty anyway.

    Why would you travel THAT far around to the world not to experience fully the things this amazing country has to offer?

    My Australian friend warned me that EVERYONE gets Delhi belly, but I am here to tell you that is not true. Before India, I was SCUBA diving in Thailand and as someone who gets sea sick, I live with ginger. While in India, I had gotten a cold and was taking ginger lozenges and that I think kept the “belly” at bay. Turns out EVERYONE in my group got sick but me, once I stopped the lozenges and felt a little intestinal “gurgle” I got right back on them. I spent a month in India eating almost everything in sight and not one incident.

    As for the water, you should know better or you will find out the hard way.

    Go and enjoy, the sights the sounds and the tastes of India!

    Namaste

  • http://www.chaikidukaan.com Prashant Bhardwaj

    Here are a few other points (these could be derivatives of what has been written already though)

    1. Avoid tap water in plains… Mostly when you are travelling in the hills, the water is great to drink!

    2. Avoid road-side food which is prepared in oil… or ask a trusted local before trying it out!

    3. Avoid ICE or anything which would have ice in it… You can never be sure of what kind of water is used to make that ice, and its better to be careful.. till the time that ice is used to just chill sealed containers, its ok.. but if it used as one of the ingredients, I would be careful!!! However, please do try “Chuski”! Its like an ice cola, which is made from freshly crushed ice, and colored sugar syrup. Try it in a market which has a good foot fall!

    4. When you eat at a road side eatery, do take a minute to see the number of people present there! Take a quick look at the type of vehicles around! It is a definite indicator of the cleanliness and hygene of food served! I eat at road side eateries on the highways all the time in India, but am careful with where I stop

    5. Have a local person guide you with where to eat! Not only this would safe you from getting sick, it would ensure that you are able to enjoy the specials of that city!

    Cheers,
    Prashant Bhardwaj
    http://www.chaikidukaan.com | http://www.andpictures.net

  • http://eatdrinkvotemove.wordpress.com Chelsea

    Robin -

    Good article and good points. However, at the end of the day, I agree with some other posters that a lot of this comes down to luck. I was in India for about 2 months and was sick roughly every 10 days. My first time was food poisoning from the NICEST restaurant I ate at on the whole trip–five days in. It was fairly serious.

    But, as other people have stated here, part of traveling to non-First World places is recognizing that you will probably get ill. I’m not trying to fear-monger, but anyone very afraid of that fact should not go to places like India.

    That said, most illness one contracts from eating in India is uncomfortable at worst, rather than debilitating. It won’t–and doesn’t–prevent intrepid travelers from going there.

  • http://indiantraveljourney.com/ Satu

    I lived in India for around 3 and a half years. I got sick approximately twice a year and there was never a real pattern: once it was a hummus sandwich in a Western restaurant, once if was plain white rice in an Indian place. Most of the time it was a 24-hour thing involving a lot of throwing up and diarrhoea, but usually it went away on its own without any need for medication. There’s no guarantee! I definitely agree with avoiding tap water (although we did boil our tap water for 10 minutes and then filtered it through a cloth to get rid of the larger particles of dirt – never got sick). But the milk in chai and coffee is usually boiled and pretty safe. Actually I get stomach problems from milk in the West (I thought I was lactose intolerant until I went to India) but in India I could drink it straight from the plastic bag it comes in and never had any problems whatsoever.

  • darmabum

    While I understand the reasoning and thought behind the list, in my almost three years spent in India over five trips I’ve broken most of the list, numerous times, and have never gotten sick. I’ve thought about it often – why NOT me?, and believe personally that the answer lies somewhere in gray area between luck and resilient genes/good immune system; both of which I seem to possess.

    That being said, I find that during the first week or so after arrival, my system takes a hit, and I feel a little “funny”; but that soon passes as my own country passes out of my system and India begins to fill me.

    During a six week trek in Nepal with a Swiss man I met on the trail, we ate at the same places, ate the same things, drank from that same suspicious plastic pipe dripping water from an unknown source: once back at our respective hotels in Kathmandu we met that first night back for dinner: from across a dark room I could see that he was yellow. He was on the plane the next day for home and a three month stint in bed with Hepatitis; while I continued merrily on my way for another four months in India.

    Know yourself and your own constitution before you go; be safe, but for the sake of staying alive rather than living :)

  • Lavanya

    Hi,

    Apart from 1 and 9 , I don’t quite agree with the rest of what you’ve written here. I have lived and traveled extensively across India well for more than 20 years and have broken all except (no.1) of your mentioned tips constantly and have never fallen sick.

    Meat is a part of Indian cuisine and a fairly large one if you venture down south. You can get some of the best steaks in Bangalore (yes Indians do eat beef!).

    If you do stick only to the Delhi/Agra/Jaipur route as most first timers to India do then yes probably the only meat you would encounter is ‘Butter Chicken Masala’. But trust me there is much more to Indian (Non Vegetarian) Cuisine than that.

    Of course the tap water not being drinkable should also warn you to stay away from street food/drinks with ice in it.

    Apart from that look for the busiest street food stalls which are frequented by locals and enjoy one of the best parts of the India experience – street food!

  • http://waegooktom.blogspot.com Tom

    I spent a month in Turkey this summer when it was blazing hot and never had any problems with street food or eating meat.

    Tap water was what got me…even though the sign in the hotel in Malatya said “do not drink”, I thought hey, Turkey’s a fairly developed country, what harm could it do? 24 hours of non-stop, often projectile vomiting, curled up on the bathroom floor and too weak to get up, and subsequently only being able to eat 1 small meal a day for the next 4 or 5 days. I lost 14lbs in one week.

    So to echo point #1…bottled water bottled water BOTTLED WATER!

    http://waegooktom.blogspot.com

  • http://www.nobalglomad.com Josh

    I agree there needs to be some common sense in travelling India – after spending 6 months there recently with a few notable toilet moments it’s just part of the experience.

    Your article though would be more appropriately titled “How to travel in India and live in a bubble”. That’s not saying it is bad piece of journalism… but your focus gives the India-novice an unnecessary sense of paranoia. With a footnote on the reality of the situation squeezed in at the end there’s no balance.

    Like any travel, anywhere, it’s about common sense. We can wear padded suits walking down the city streets of the West but if a bus hits you head on you’re still in trouble.

    Street food can be the freshest and highest turnover, it can also be covered in dung. India is not at all ‘All Vegetarian’. Tell a Kashmiri he can’t have Mutton at his wedding and he’ll give you a damn good smack.

    Take your sensible cap, don’t freak out at an uncooked carrot, wash your hands and share a chai with a local and a cow on the train platform… your experience will be a far richer one for it.

  • abhinav

    Awesome article! I see where it is coming from.
    My father, being a vegetarian, has an extremely tough time with food every time he makes his business trip to China. For the Chinese, he says, vegetarian food includes egg and chicken (no malice intended, I say this with an open mind) which freaked my brother out the first time he heard it! For him Chinese food is as exotic as Indian food and enviornment is to a western traveler.

    What was really amusing was the subtle but clear reference to how a westerner prepares for his trip to India : He starts by watching Slumdog Millionaire! hehee

  • Loved India

    While traveling through India for a month, we were told by a knowledgeable local in Mumbai that people know how to redo the little plastic strip on water bottles—so you may think you are buying an unopened, sealed bottle of water, but are in fact, getting one that’s been cleverly resealed and its contents from who knows where.  Nonetheless, we carried water bottles provided by our hotel and just bought water from local stores anyway and didn’t encounter any problems.

  • http://www.global-hotel-finder.com Lance

    I just recently finished my 7th trip to India. This one was for 4 months. Today India is very different to the India of 20 years ago or even 3 years ago.

    Hotels,. even some of the relatively cheap ones, have hot showers, water that comes from the tap safe to drink, restaurants that serve cola with ice that’s okay, etc., etc.

    The paranoia about food and drink in India is noow an old fairy stroy to tell your Grandkids.

    It’s all very safe unless you’re in some dump that will sell you as room for $0.50 a night.

    I’ve eaten in restaurants where a full 4 course meals costs about $6 and a room for the night not much more and need safe – no bugs, no stratching, no diseases or rashes.

    And it’s not becuase I’ve been to India 7 times and am immune. I took my wife over there for her first time a few years ago and on my last trip a couple of mopnths ago and she was fine both times.

    India has changed and is cleaner, healthier, hygenic (in comparison to what it was before) and the water and food is safe.

    Just be sensible andyou should be that in London or New York as well.

  • http://twitter.com/punao13 Punya

    Clearly you have misplaced your brain somewhere. These are things that you’d do in any country. In Europe you should always check the meat in restaurants, don’t even get me started on American meat. In India you have so much more to eat, so why go for Western things like Pasta and Pizza? Plus, India’s one of the friendliest countries. Indians love foreigners and welcome them anywhere. I’m sure most of the people in your country are friendly too, but people like you spoil anybody’s reputation. 

  • Tracy Martin

    I have an incredibly sensitive stomach.  I’ve gotten food poisoning multiple times in the US from who knows what.  I can’t really eat meat because my body can’t break down the proteins properly.  I tell you this mostly so you understand that I fully anticipated being ill every other week while in India.  But I’ve been here now for about 4 months and I only got sick once (just last week, and it was mostly the result of some heat exhaustion).  Even drinking tap water (which I’ve done) didn’t make me sick (though I wouldn’t recommend it).  

    Robin’s advice in this article is spot on.  I’ve avoided meat and uncooked vegetables, and definitely stuck to places recommended by local friends.  I’ve had lots of street food, including the much-feared gol gappa (pani puri).  I’ve been an incredibly adventurous eater by Western standards and I’m so grateful that I have.  I’ve enjoyed some of the best food I’ve ever eaten and have had a blast while doing so. 

    That having been said, it’s still very common to get sick here.  Even the locals have stomach woes now and again.  But letting those things prevent you from trying some new dish will only result in a lost experience.

  • Indian Guy

     being afraid of the most amazing experience of your life is your choice. If staying home with your xbox does it for you, stay there.  There are sights and sounds here worth travelling sleepless nights for, people to meet whom treat guests as god (it’s called atithi devo bhava), and feelings of such amazing magnitude that worrying about the ensuing stench, and utter mess shoudln’t put you off of. It’s worth it, come by. you’ll find out what you love about yourself.

  • http://twitter.com/punao13 Punya

    and clearly Chinchun is an ignorant fool as well. You don’t need to go around in the adventurous parts of India if you’re afraid of getting sick. You can also lay on the beach and just chill like you’d do in the Caribbean. Or you can rent yourself a cottage in the mountains away from everything. I’m sure the air in the Himalayas is cleaner than anywhere else. There’s more to India than to any other country in the World. So generalising it is wrong and as mentioned shows ignorance.

    • vick

      i am so sorry for you. I am an indian too and time to time come across comments such as yours by other fellow indian. By reading your comments, I felt ashamed to see Indians like you always are so touchy about anything anybody says about India. Even i get sick in India when i travel, so whats the big deal about it. Why do you have to think that this article is in anyway insult to India. There are other things to life except books. You are so typical in your comments, guys like you come out of India and spend whole life studying and then die with a house and leave few kids in western world. Typical book worm. The article is for everybody and about basic things, there were no need to compare europe or US.

      • http://twitter.com/punao13 Punya

        OMG! This is getting more and more ridiculous. First of all I’m Swiss, and BLOODY HELL I didn’t take the article as an insult, but the comment that has been flagged! The article’s true, who the freaking hell is denying that? 

    • http://twitter.com/punao13 Punya

      Maybe Vick won’t see what i replied to him so here’s a repeat you ignorant fool. 

      OMG! This is getting more and more ridiculous. First of all I’m Swiss, and BLOODY HELL I didn’t take the article as an insult, but the comment that has been flagged! The article’s true, who the freaking hell is denying that?

    • Ianjandan

      “There’s more to India than to any other country in the world.” … Whose generalising now Punya?

  • Dan

     you feel fit to write this because you didn’t get sick after spending a month in India and not getting sick? oh, c’mon, maybe week 5 would’ve caught ya like it did me. you can do everything right (according to this list) and you’ll still get sick as a dog. it’s just not as simple as don’t do this, this, or that. believe me, i wish it was!

    i wound up in a varanasi hospital for a week with severe bacillary dystenery and TRUST ME i was NOT taking risks. (on top of my body withering away and thinking i was dying for a good chunk of it, the nurse blew my vein and didn’t replace the iv, leaving me with a very painful blood clot for months to come)

    knowing what i know now, would i have taken that journey to India? absolutely. what an incredible place. can’t wait to go back…

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Renata-Ad/100000468218059 Renata Ad

    My friends went to India last year, it was ok, they didnt got sick, and they wasnt eating all the time in tourists crowded places.
     I’m planning my trip to India for next winter. I have in mind Goa (myself trip) or guided trip around  India. First is less expensive. Any clues or recommendations? Any good travel company’s? Thanks. 

    • Dan

      it depends on what you want to see in India. check out indiamike.com for lots of ideas. 

      you could do a trip all around the South by yourself and that could be pretty inexpensive. don’t miss Kerala – it’s breathtaking!

  • Mo

    EXcellent advice for any where you go.  It is NOT fun to be sick on your Vacation.  My husband ate fresh fish in Belieze, we saw the people catch them, clean them and cook them. He was VERY sick.  We have been all over the world and have done very well, by not having their water, ice, milk products, or nothing that hasn’t been cooked well.  Thanks for the advice, it WILL be followed !!!

  • http://twitter.com/punao13 Punya

    Look, I understand you’ve had bad experiences with Indians. However, you’ve got to realise that India’s a humongous country with variety thats not seen anywhere else. Out of 1.3 billion people, there’s bound to be a number of ‘rude and obnoxious’ ones. The problem with Indians outside India is that they tend to behave like in India (shoving and pushing) – don’t get me wrong though, most Indians won’t stare at you like they’re uncivilised pigs. :) And yea the Brits pretty much sucked everything out of India, but they left India with things, too. I’m sure India wouldn’t have been such an open country had the British not been there. Indians even learnt Cricket – pretty much the one thing that unites ALL Indians. Plus there’s really no point in showing anger towards the English in 2011. They’re not gonna start being India’s slaves are they? 
    The shower thing’s a low blow and generally not true. Indians shower everyday, most do it even twice. So whoever you came across is generally just unhygienic. 

  • Sahalidude

    Who on earth goes to India and eats spaghetti?

  • http://twitter.com/0x101 0×101

    To interact with Indians I’d suggest you to skim through Caste system in India.

  • http://www.vagabondjourney.com/ Wade | Vagabondjourney.com

    You may as well just say, “Don’t eat any food.”

  • eek

    I have been traveling quite widely in Asia, weeks or months at a time. Some very wild destinations where there were simply no ‘proper’ restaurants in a radius of 100 miles. Stomach fine all the time. In India as well, before reaching Darjeeling… twice viciously sick in just 10 days. First time it took me about 7-8 hours since I arrived in the town, and lasted 6 days to get better; and I did feel better after a doctor’s treatment. Then once again. It is certainly not the food. I suspect the bottled water is what kept me ill all the time (mind I didn’t even have diarrhoea for 24 hours since I was ill the first time – meaning food is fine). ‘Keep hydrated’ – I did. Also making sure my body is well fed with more and more bacteria from the bottled, ‘safe’, packaged and sealed water. Well done, this part of India! 

  • http://twitter.com/kat_clay Kat Clay

    I’d also highly recommend getting a “Gastro Kit” from a travel doctor. We bought one before we left on a 2 year journey, it comes with antibiotics, hydralyte and directions for use. Incredibly helpful even in non-asian places, you never know when those nasty bugs are going to hit…

Be prepared to share your personal space. But know where to draw the line.
Barcelona is a wonderful place to live, but it’s a den of thieves.
I once awoke on an overnight bus in the U.S. to find my male neighbor attempting a...
At a comedy show later: "Ugandans could never be terrorists...you want to know why?"
10 tried and tested tips on not falling prey in places where other travelers have.
Losing your passport or bank cards on the road sucks. Don't be a casualty.
Matador's travel suggestions for those concerned about the ongoing violence in Mexico.
Insure your possessions against theft, loss, or damage.
Matador Pulse Editor Eva Holland reviews this popular niche travel book.