One joy of travel is sampling the variety of foods available in different regions of the world. While one wouldn't want to discourage this, in regions where hygiene standards differ from home, it's worth being a little cautious initially, to ensure one doesn't get sick. Your travel insurance might cover you for medical bills should you eat the wrong thing, but it's best to try and avoid any problems to start with.
Make Sure It's Fresh
The sight of meat being chopped up on the street, and being kept un-refrigerated or not chilled is enough to send some travellers running back to the hotel restaurant. While local health regulations (if these are in place) may mean such food preparation is permitted, it would be a shame to miss out on many local delicacies out of fear. Instead, be selective about where you eats. Ramshackle street restaurants may not provide the creature comforts of home, but so long as food is prepared properly, and preferably cooked fresh in front of you, the chances of becoming ill are dramatically reduced.
Pick Restaurants with Plenty of Clientele
A regular flow of diners is a reassuring sign. Not only does this indicate that the meals on offer are probably pretty tasty, it also means that ingredients are being constantly used. You could therefore be pretty confident that meals are made with pretty fresh ingredients. If there are plenty of locals eating at a restaurant in question, then this is also encouraging. It means that the food is likely to be authentic flavour wise, and most likely a good meal, if they are reliant on local customers more than less knowledgeable travellers. One word of caution is that local stomachs may be more adept to handle local food than the stomachs of westerners
used to food prepared differently.
Speak to Other Travellers
In some tourist hot-spots, the majority of restaurants may cater predominantly to the tourist trade, with local restaurants almost non existent. Again, a good sized clientele is an encouraging sign, but if the majority are tourists, they may only be in town a couple of days and unsure of where to eat. It's therefore worth asking some fellow travellers as to the state of the food. Upon considering a restaurant, nab someone as they come out to get a good idea as to whether it's a good idea to eat there or not.
Be Cautious with Water and Ice
Tap water is not always safe for drinking. Make sure you find out whether this is the case or not at your intended destination. Bottled water is often commonly available if tap water is not satisfactory. In remote areas, boil water first if there are no other options. Water purification tablets are a handy thing to pack away in the luggage for such situations. At restaurants, if you are served with water or ice, try to establish whether it is made from purified water.
A little bit of sensible caution goes a long way when dining on holiday. You shouldn't eat just anywhere, but also shouldn't shirk at the chance of trying something new. These tips help reduce the chances of falling ill, without minimising the opportunities to go out and discover local culinary delights. Having a cheap travel insurance policy for your trip though, is also advisable.