I got Sick in Serbia! How to Prevent Travellers Diarrhoea

February 19, 2016

Amy Trumpeter

Hi guys, I got sick in Serbia! The day before I got sick, my two friends Iulia and Goce (from the Adrenalin Belgrade Escape Room) were unwell for a whole day with what they said was food poisoning. Two French girls were also unwell at the hostel. Yesterday, I was completely wiped out!

I woke up yesterday morning with sickness and diarrhoea – not good. I was basically out of action the whole day and didn’t eat anything at all. I even struggled to Skype Simon back home! The following day I tried to eat normally, because I felt much better. But, lets just stay that it didn’t stay down! Being in a mixed dorm when you feel like your guts are exploding is not really that much fun!

Some Greek guys tried to look after me and give me medicine, but I couldn’t take it because I didn’t know what was in it! Katerina and Diana from Trip and Sleep came to give me a sick bucket and an extra blanket.

After I had been stuck in bed in a room all alone for the whole day, my friend from Chilli came to say goodbye. He was travelling onto Sofia, one of my favourite Balkan cities. I can’t even remember his name, I called him ‘Mi Amigo!’ He came in to say keep well and that he was travelling to Sofia. ‘Mi amigo’ gave me a hug and said ‘hasta luego, my friend!’ It was so nice to have a new caring friend who thought about me at this time. It’s not easy being sick abroad when you are far from friends and family. This Chilean guy really cheered me up!

After he left, I made a nice Russian friend called Sergei, who played Beatles music on his iPod and went to get me water from the supermarket. You can’t beat people like that!

Sergejs
My new Russian friend Sergei!

Now, I remember getting water for two sick guys in Essouira last summer – good things do come back to you 😉

Thankfully, the stomach bug seemed to be one of those 48 hour things, because I’m pretty much back to normal now, but it was an unpleasant experience to say the least!

Looking back, I couldn’t understand why I got so sick and my friend Matthew didn’t, because we had eaten the same meals. We had also been drinking bottled water. But then, it dawned on me that it probably was the water, and I had been drinking juice that could have well been mixed with the tap water. Matthew, on the other hand had been hardcore on the beer. Good thinking on his part, it seems!

Of course, it also could have been a bug or virus that was being easily passed around the hostel because of dorm life (Matthew also paid extra for a private room)! Thankfully there was no need for drugs, other than a Rennie! Rennie’s were recommended to me by a nice woman we met in Morocco after travelling over the Atlas Mountains – they really work ;-).

Sick in Serbia
Feeling better now!

Now, in the grand scheme of things, you expect to get some sickness and diarrhoea while travelling. Thankfully, I was no where near as sick as I was in India or Morocco. But it spurred me on to write a few words of caution about health and preventing travellers diarrhoea.

The great news is that Iva at Trip and Sleep Hostel has allowed me to have a private room for my last two nights, at no extra charge.

How to Prevent or deal with Travellers Diarrhoea

Travellers Diarrhoea can be caused by bugs in the water or new viruses that your body is not immune to. Many locals will tell you it’s fine for you to drink the water. It’s ok for them, because they are used to that bacteria – you are not, so don’t drink it!

Most cases of travellers diarrhoea will improve after 48 hours. Make sure that you drink a lot of water to avoid dehydration. Sadly, if you are travelling to any developing part of the world, the chance that you will experience this are high – in particular, travellers in Africa, Asia and South America are prone to it. It can actually occur anywhere, so be prepared!

  • Avoid Street food if possible – especially in hot countries where you don’t know how long it’s been out.
  • Avoid salads that may have been washed in tap water.
  • Avoid drinking the tap water and brush your teeth with bottled water. Be aware that juice (cordial) may have been mixed with tap water, so avoid that also.
  • Pack Rennie/alka-saltzer and dioralyte. Rennie/alka-saltzer will calm your stomach down in non serious cases and dioralyte will help your body to replace lost liquid and salts after and episode.

Travellers Diorreah

  • Also, you can pack immodium, but only use this if you have a long flight to catch, as it completely bungs you up!
  • Have an emergency fund so that if you get sickness and diarrhoea, you can upgrade to a private room or a hotel. Being in a dorm room is no fun when you are suffering with this!
  • If you have had sickness and diarrhoea for 3 days or more, it is advisable to consult a doctor.
  • If you have expenses that result from sickness or food poisoning while you are travelling, inform your insurance company as soon as possible and keep all receipts. Just check that it’s worth claiming – many insurance companies have an excess, so claiming for a simple anti-biotic may not be worth it.
  • If it is ever serious enough for you to be hospitalised e.g. food poisoning, you will just have to go! Don’t ever take risks with your health.

Anyone out there got any top tips to prevent people from getting sick?

You might also want to read about Travelling with Asthma and Avoiding Heatstroke in the Sahara.