‘This gloriously TMI blog post is brought to you by Travelan, a dietary supplement that helps promote digestive health while traveling.
A few key moments stay with us from our travels and adventures around the world. Experiences that shape and define us go hand in hand with travel.
These intrepid experiences are what change us fundamentally. They teach us lessons that can’t be learned anywhere else. And they leave us with memories that stay with us for a lifetime. These are the moments I live for on my travels.
From watching the sunrise from the top of a mountain to having tea with local families in remote villages to swimming with manta rays, our world is magical and beautiful, and travel opens it up to us.
And then all the other life-shaping-and-defining memories come with travel. You know the ones I mean — the ones when you miss the last train and have to sleep in the station memories. Or when someone swipes your bag with your last $20 memories.
And my all-time favorite, the poo-your-pants in public memories.
Anyone who is anyone who has voyaged overseas likely has experienced the non-rainbow-and-unicorns side of travel. While Instagram might have us believe that travel is always glamorous and photo-ready, we all know the truth. I certainly have never seen a hot influencer talking about diarrhea while on their adventures, even though all those diet teas they’re hustling have a MASSIVE laxative effect.
That adage about travel being only glamorous in retrospect rings true and is almost inescapable.
After all, are you even a real travel blogger if you haven’t almost shat your pants on a chicken bus in a developing country? Nope, don’t think so.
Yes, this is a blog about poo. Read on, dear ones.
I’m no stranger to “why me” situations while traveling. I’m a bit of a magnet for them.
I’ve picked up parasites in Mongolia, dysentery in Egypt, and dengue fever in Sri Lanka. And I’ve had diarrhea more times than I can count, though not recently! Wahoo!
I love to travel and have never been shy about trying new things, meeting new people, or adventurous eating, all of which comes with its perils. Though the benefits almost always outweigh the risk.
I was 19 the first time I headed to South America. With youthful naivete, and with a c’est la vie attitude towards food, I didn’t question anything that I put into my mouth. From pisco sours to fried guinea pigs to alpaca burgers and cheesy street corn, I tried it all in Peru.
But it was the local fruit smoothie that did me in.
For less than a dollar, I picked out some of my favorite fruits for a smoothie at a local market in the mountains. With some vague memory of only eating fruit that had peels, I shrugged and thought, that’s crazy.
I had chugged half of the smoothie when I watched in horror as the vendor dunked the machine in a bucket of water that was filthy. I’m talking gray. The water was gray. With flies. Oh, dear god.
Uh oh, as I thought to myself as we made our way back to the hostel. As we walked past tables of meat and animals heads in the warm sun next to it, I felt a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach, not much unlike the feeling that woke me up 12 hours later.
What did I do?
The mother of all food poisoning, Montezuma’s revenge, gastroenteritis, Delhi belly, Bali belly, the runs, or as my friends and I call it, Poo Roulette. Diarrhea, while traveling, is nobody’s friend but always seems to hang around when you least expect it.
I reckon I had been backpacking on and off for a couple of years before I finally grew up and realized I needed to look after my gut health.
Honestly, it’s genuinely incredible how your brain in your early twenties is capable of completely forgetting about an agonizing sickness as you move on to the next adventure. Sadly, Peru wasn’t the last time I experienced diarrhea while on an adventure.
Whether I was trying to ride horses in Mongolia after chugging fermented mare’s milk with locals (10/10 do NOT recommend) or partaking of the free buffet in the sunshine in Thailand (no no no) or for some reason thought it was totally fine to drink tap water in Hong Kong, there are steps I could have taken to be more responsible with my stomach and health.
But my first trip to Bali a couple of years ago was the straw that broke the camels back. I had diarrhea so severely I couldn’t travel for days.
After that, I decided to get serious with preparing and avoiding illness while on the road. Nothing ruins a trip quite like getting sick, and I was over it: time to grow up, Liz.
This meant that I actively worked to prevent getting sick on trips. I did this, especially when I would be in places where I wanted to eat adventurously. Did you know that diarrhea is the most common travel-related illness?
For years I’ve been carrying around a box of Travelan, an over-the-counter product available to be purchased on Amazon or Passport Health Travel Medicine clinics. It offers digestive tract protection and helps your body maintain regular bowel habits. BOOM.
So without any shame, here is my major Public Service Announcement to all of you who dream of traveling with the aforementioned healthy bowel habits (me). Don’t let poo roulette ruin your trip.
Designed to target and neutralize bacteria before they can make you sick, Travelan is an essential tool in my travel arsenal. I use it to make sure my travel plans stick to a schedule. Reducing the risk of experiencing stomach upsets is vital to me, especially when I’m traveling to places where it’s common.
Between the actual illness part, which lingers for days to the general inconvenience of trying to find doctors or hospitals overseas in remote places to the cost of the medical treatment, I want to avoid all of that mess. Oh, and let’s be honest here, not all toilets are created equal. All of the toilets I’ve had to use while in the throes of sickness have been THE STUFF OF NIGHTMARES.
Nope, I want my gut happy and healthy and normal – don’t we all? This is perfect because Travelan mostly contains naturally occurring antibodies that help to neutralize gastrointestinal issues before they begin.
This doesn’t mean to let all good hygiene practices fly out the window while traveling. It’s essential to stay as clean as possible when you can. Also, it’s up to you to do everything you can to prepare for inevitable diarrhea on your travels.
Travel is wild and beautiful, and wildly beautifully unpredictable. It’s in that inconstancy where we often find the most compelling stories and make the most incredible memories.
Just don’t let pooping your pants while on a horse trek be one of them.
**In Australia, Travelan® is a listed medicine and is specifically indicated to reduce the risk of Travelers’ Diarrhea. It’s available to purchase from Australian pharmacies. In Canada, Travelan® is a licensed natural health product and can be purchased from Canadian pharmacies.