A lot of us look forward to sightseeing on a trip but we also love to eat, to try new foods and sample all of the local fare. And sometimes, our bodies don't really appreciate the sudden influx of new ingredients.. and it rebels. As someone who has experienced my fair share of stomach bugs and Pepto-Bismol ailments (nausea, heartburn, indigestion, upset stomach, diarrhea) while away from home, I can tell you that nothing kills your vacation-buzz like being sick.
The number one thing I can recommend to help your digestive system adjust to a new place is to try and stick to bottled water. I'm not saying that the water is contaminated or unhealthy wherever it is that you're visiting, but while the locals are used to consuming the water in their respective cities you, however, are not. Bottled water won't jolt your tummy and it will help you stay hydrated (another important way to fend off nausea of any kind).
Pack a few medications just in case a new food doesn't agree with you, like Rolaids (for heartburn), anti-nausea meds (such as Pepto or Gravol), and anti-diarrhea pills (the best are Imodium and Maalox - look for something with the ingredient loperamide). You'll thank me later for this tip!
You still need to balance out your diet - I've been on vacation and gorged on rich restaurant foods for days, and finally, one night at dinner, I'll have soup, toast, a salad, and a tall glass of milk - I just need something healthy, simple and not too rich. Sure you're going to overindulge while you're away from home - you only have so many days to try all that local cuisine. However, you need to give your body some regular good ol' staples like fruit, veggies and unsalted foods. If your meals are going to consist of large platters of meats, carbs, spices, and sauces, balance them out by snacking on granola bars, apples, and bottles of water in-between.
And take it easy - ease yourself into being a glutton. Don't go all out on your first night and take on the "who can eat the spiciest wings" at the local resto nearby - save that for the end of your trip in case your stomach turns on you.
Jenn Cox is a Montreal-based freelance journalist. Visit her website or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.