How to Avoid Getting Sick in India

As we prepared to go on our adventure to Asia, there were a few things that became apparent, namely that we were bound to get sick. Fine. I didn't want to have expectations otherwise only to be disappointed once the inevitable happened.

But! We didn't get sick! A month in India and no Delhi Belly, no running to the restroom barely making it. It was great to avoid this part of the hazing process, hah. While there is some amount of luck and circumstance in this feat, there was also a good bit of preparation that contributed to our success.

After some really sick times during some trips we took in the past, I was trying to be as prepared as possible. I can't promise you the same fate but I will share what helped us and hopefully some of our good luck will rub off on you!

1. Eat Cooked Food

We ate mostly if not all, cooked foods. Eventually we found certain places that had trustworthy fresh produce that was cleaned in purified water but that was not the norm.

Luckily we were traveling during January so the cold weather lent itself nicely to eating warm curries and hot tea all day.

The water simply cannot be trusted in India so only eating things that have been boiled or cooked at a high enough temperature to kill the bad guys is the safest bet.

2. Drink Bottled Water

This is a given, but we only drank bottled water and taking it a step further be sure to check the seal first. Some restaurants and street vendors reuse the bottles, refilling them with tap water. If this is served to you just request a sealed bottle.

Fortunately bottled water is very affordable. The downside is that the waste (there's no recycling) is atrocious. I try to be a conscious consumer while at home and it was hard to adjust to creating so much waste. 

One more note on water, if you get tea it may or may not be made with clean water but as long as it's steaming hot you should be okay, at least we were. I've heard of people getting sick from coffee that was lukewarm but we didn't run into this.

If you want to be extra cautious you can brush your teeth and rinse your mouth with bottled water. We did a combination of this and just using the faucet.

3. Stick to Produce with a Peel

When we did have produce we ate things that had a peel, like bananas and oranges. We liked to eat fruit for breakfast to get something raw but we avoided things like grapes that don't have a protective outer layer. The fruit vendors on the street were plentiful and cheap, just don't get fruit that they pre-cut.

4. Consider Essential Oils

We brought some essential oils with us that we took regularly and I believe they really aided in keeping us healthy. I did a lot of research before we left and ended up bringing 3 main oils: peppermint oil, oregano oil and Thieves oil blend. Essential oils tend to have multiple purposes making them great for travel.

Peppermint helps with nausea and digestion, and is antimicrobial so every night before bed we would put a few drops under our tongue, just in case we ingested some bad buggers.

Peppermint is also amazing when you have tense muscles or a headache. We would rub some on our temples, around our neck or massage some onto our shoulders if we got cramped on long bus rides or flights. We would also rub a few drops between our hands, cup them over our nose and breathe it in. So refreshing! Especially when dealing with time changes and jet lag. Lastly, peppermint oil even helped with my motion-sickness!

I had read that oregano oil was antiparasitic in addition to having some antimicrobial properties of it's own so we would also take this nightly.

Thieves is supposed to be an all around immune booster so sometimes we would take some of this in the morning before we started our day or used the breathing in method if we felt a little run down.

Essential oils are super concentrated and can have a lot of toxins if they aren't from  a high quality source. I bought mine from this source. (This is not an affiliate, I just trust them.) Also, I'm definitely not a doctor so your mileage may vary. Make sure you do what's best for you.

5. Supplement Your Diet

We brought along some supplements since we didn't know what kind of food options would be in store for us, and didn't want to count on anything.

The three supplements we brought with us were B12, a probiotic and chlorella tablets as a sort of "green insurance ". We took B12 every couple days, chlorella before meals and the probiotic before lunch.

I wasn't really sure if some of the potent essential oils from above would counteract the benefits of the probiotic so we tried to take them as far apart from one another as we could.

6. Bring Soap to Wash Your Hands

This is another thing you are probably already accustomed to before mealtime but definitely be sure you do this in India. Almost nowhere we went had soap at the sinks, including restaurants and restrooms, so we always traveled with both soap (Dr. Bronner's) and hand sanitizer and used both all the time.

That's the roundup of what we did to stay healthy and avoid getting sick but of course there's no guarantee. (There are no guarantees in India! lol) And who knows, maybe it was all sheer luck. :)

Have you ever gotten sick while on a trip? What are some of your must-haves while traveling? I never used to put too much care into this but now that I know a little prep goes a long way, I'd love to hear if you have any tried and true tips.

Comments & Questions