Traveler’s Diarrhea | Prevention


How can I avoid traveler's diarrhea?

When you will be traveling to an area where the water may not be clean, see your doctor 4 to 6 weeks before your trip. Your doctor may want to give you some medicines, such as antibiotics or shots, to protect you from illness while you are away. During your trip, be careful about the following things:

  • Do not drink tap water and do not use it to brush your teeth.
  • Do not drink bottled water if the seal on the bottle has been broken.
  • Do not use ice unless you're sure it's made from purified water.
  • Do not drink milk or eat dairy products that have not been pasteurized (heated to a temperature that kills all germs).
  • Do not eat raw fruits or vegetables unless they can be peeled and you are the one who peels them.
  • Do not eat cut-up fruit salad.
  • Do not eat lettuce or other leafy raw vegetables (such as spinach).
  • Do not eat raw or rare (slightly cooked) meat or fish.
  • Do not eat food from people who sell it on the street.

Boiling water will kill the germs that cause diarrhea, making the water safe to drink. Boil water vigorously for 1 minute and allow it to cool to room temperature (do not add ice). When traveling in high altitudes (6,562 feet or higher), boil water for 3 minutes.

What is safe to eat or drink?

When you are in a place where you could get traveler's diarrhea, it is probably safe to eat or drink the following:

  • Soft drinks that are carbonated (such as cola).
  • Hot drinks, such as tea or coffee.
  • Carbonated or noncarbonated bottled water, as long as you are the one who breaks the seal on the bottle.
  • Raw fruits or vegetables that can be peeled, as long as you are the one who peels them.
  • Food that is served hot.
  • Meat that is well cooked.


Traveler's Diarrhea by J Yates, M.D. (American Family Physician June 01, 2005,

Written by editorial staff

Reviewed/Updated: 05/14
Created: 10/93