A Shitty Situation: Food Poisoning while Travelling

by Melissa on June 22, 2017 · 3 comments

You would think that after someone has been hospitalized for life-threatening food poisoning while travelling, that they would be a bit more conscious of what they’re eating.

Apparently, I don’t learn from my mistakes.

Melbourne Hospital Visits- Food Poisoning the Maiden Voyage

hospital patient

I shared my experience with contracting campylobacter enteritis back in the early days of my blog. I had been travelling with two French backpackers from Adelaide to Melbourne (and hopefully Sydney) in their packed-to-the-brim station wagon. We camped out along the way – with overnight stops just outside Victor Harbour, South Australia, and somewhere along the Great Ocean Road before spending a night or two in Torquay with a friend of theirs. Upon our arrival in Melbourne, I really started feeling ill. A day after arriving I made the choice to go to the hospital – in hopes that maybe an IV with some fluids would cure what ailed me. Nope – turns out what I thought was heat stroke, was actually life-threatening food poisoning. 5 days and a $2100 hospital visit later, I was in the clear. I vowed to be more conscious about what I was eating.

California Food Poisoning – Fool me twice

food poisoning while travelling

The second time I contracted food poisoning while travelling was on my first anniversary trip to California. After Kris dealt with his own brush with food poisoning while we were visiting Venice Beach in Los Angeles (and probably one of the most hilarious urgent bathroom stories ever), it was my turn when we arrived in San Francisco. To be honest, to this day, I don’t even know what it was that I ate wrong. All I know is that I was miserable. The famous drizzly San Francisco weather really didn’t help matters. And of course, there’s nothing more romantic than sharing really close quarters with your boyfriend on your anniversary holiday while having a bad case of the poops. Of course, neither of us had been prepared with bismuth or anti-diarrhea medication, so we had to make a special trip to the nearest drugstore. We vowed to make sure we were prepared in the future – just in case we got hit with the dreaded food poisoning while travelling.

Third time’s a charm – 5-star shit show

On our most recent trip to Jordan for our friend’s wedding, we both got hit with food poisoning. And bad! You know how certain desert region based religions have rules about avoiding shellfish? I had never stopped to think that maybe those rules were there for a good reason. While I can’t know for sure, I’m pretty sure Kris and I both contracted food poisoning while travelling this time due to the shellfish we consumed at the wedding dinner. We figured that we were staying at a 5+ star luxury resort – everything surely would be safe to eat.

food poisoning while traveling

The food poisoning hit Kris first. This made the day after the wedding – a long travel day to Petra from the Dead Sea via various important religious sites- pretty much unbearable. It hit me once we arrived at our hotel that night.

My shining moment was when we had checked into the hotel in Petra.  We’d finally made it to our room and I went to use the loo.  Kris, had forgotten something on the bus, so told me through the bathroom door he was going to go downstairs to get it.  As I sat there, in my misery, I heard the door shut behind Kris… and all of a sudden everything went dark.

He took the damn key card out of the wall socket that powered the room!  So there I sat, on the toilet, in the dark, and on the verge of tears.

Of course, the most upsetting thing in that moment was the realization that the following day’s 8km trek in to see the ruins of the lost city of Petra was going to have to be done whilst squeezing my butt cheeks. Awesome experience! But hey… I got through it and even managed to fake a smile for the camera along the way.   To add insult to injury – of course, Kris and I had forgotten our anti-diarrhea meds and bismuth, so we pretty much depleted our friend’s supplies over the remainder of our tour around Jordan.

food poisoning while travelling

The Final Word on Food Poisoning While Travelling

It can happen to anyone. Even when you think you’re being safe and taking extra precautions, it can come out of the woodwork and hit you like a sack of bricks. Getting food poisoning while travelling can really put a damper on things, and it can really be difficult to keep up a positive attitude. Make sure you travel with a supply of meds for bad stomachs – bismuth and anti-diarrhea medications specifically. I would also encourage everyone to purchase travel insurance – just in case you wind up in the hospital – for food poisoning or any other ailment or injury. Travel Insurance has saved my butt (pun intended) on numerous occasions – don’t cheap out, be sure you’re covered!

Tell me: Have you ever had food poisoning while travelling? Share your experience in the comments below.


{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Anne June 22, 2017 at 6:11 pm

Well that’s a pretty shitty experience. I don’t think I have ever experienced anything like what you have gone through.


Lana June 30, 2017 at 7:25 am

A surprising fact about food! I agree with you being safe it` s very important.


Jade D'sa September 10, 2017 at 2:23 am

Oh dear, that sounds like a terrible thing to happen, especially when you’re travelling.


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