15 Tips for Staying Healthy while Travelling in India

India fruit
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India is a pulsating mix of traditions, culture and spirituality and is a destination that offers remarkable diversity to travellers. Unfortunately, as India is a developing nation, poor sanitation means that many travellers tend to fall victim to the infamous ‘Delhi Belly’ or other ailments of the digestive system. Using your common sense and following these few precautions will help you stay healthy while travelling in India and helpy you get the most out of your trip.

15 Tips for Staying Healthy while Travelling in India

India street

Before your trip:

1. Purchase comprehensive travel insurance

The most important thing you can do before your trip is to take out comprehensive travel insurance that includes full medical cover with a no excess policy. If you do happen to get sick, you want to know that all of your medical expenses will be covered.

2. Get vaccinated

You will need to be vaccinated against a number of diseases prior to travelling to India, including Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Typhoid, Cholera and Diphtheria. It’s important that you see your doctor at least six months before your trip to discuss which vaccinations you need. Some vaccinations require a course and need to be spread out over a few months, so get organised early with this.

3. Pack medication

Be prepared for getting and sick and pack a good medical kit to bring with you. It is a good idea to bring some antibiotics with you, malaria medication if you need it and over-the-counter products such as Imodium and rehydration salts. You will be very glad you packed these if you find that you need them!

During your trip:

4. Clean your hands often

It’s important to either wash your hands regularly or use disinfectant wipes or gel to kill germs you may have picked up from touching surfaces over the day. If you have picked up any germs on your hands, simply touching your face can be enough to make you sick. Clean your hands regularly to avoid this as much as possible and always remember to sanitize your hands before you eat.

Staying healthy in India

5. Only drink bottled or purified water

It is not safe to drink the tap water in India. Only drink bottled or purified water. If you purchase bottled water from a store or kiosk, always make sure that the seal hasn’t been broken before you drink from it as people have been known re-use empty bottles filled with unclean tap water.

6. Say no to ice in your drink

You can’t be sure that purified water was used to make the ice in your drink so it’s best to avoid it altogether.

7. Don’t eat anything fresh that can’t be peeled

There’s a high chance that fresh fruit and vegetables have been washed in contaminated water. Only eat fresh, uncooked food that can be peeled.

India fruit

8. Take probiotics

Taking probiotics regularly is one of the best ways to prepare your digestive system for travel to India. The good bacteria in probiotics helps to keep your stomach in tip-top shape and helps to fight bad bacteria. Take them daily in the months leading up to your trip and buy a traveller’s pack that doesn’t require refrigeration to take away with you.

9. Eat at busy restaurants

If a restaurant is busy, it’s for a good reason. Follow the crowds and eat at busy places. These restaurants have a better reputation and are more likely to be serving higher quality food.

Staying Healthy while Travelling in India

10. Drink from a straw

Avoid putting your lips directly on the top of the bottle, which may be unclean and drink out of a straw instead.

11. Be careful with street food

Tucking into street food is one of the joys of travelling. Even though street food is often a lot cheaper than food in restaurants and hotels, be careful with it in India. Use your common sense and make a judgement as to whether you think the vendor’s food looks safe. Does the oil look clean? Are the pots and pans dirty? Are food scraps left out? Are there a lot of flies buzzing around? This should give you a pretty clear indication as to whether the food will be safe or not.

Staying healthy while travelling in India

12. Don’t drink fresh juices or smoothies

You can’t be sure that the fruit in fresh juices and smoothies has been washed in purified water, or whether the ice is safe. It’s best to avoid these drinks altogether in India.

13. Use your hands

Provided that you have washed your hands carefully or have used a hand sanitizer before eating, you should have confidence that they are clean. Eating with your hands can be a great option if you have doubts about the cleanliness of utensils. Don’t worry – it’s common practice to eat with your right hand in India!

14. Don’t accept food from strangers

Even though strangers may appear friendly if they offer you food, politely decline. Firstly, the food may be unsafe to eat. Secondly, there have been unfortunate stories of strangers offering tourists poisoned food that causes them to fall asleep, making them easy targets for theft. Stick with your own food just to be sure.

15. When in doubt, eat vegetarian

Indians are the lowest consumers of meat in the entire world and, consequently, have perfected vegetarian cooking into an artform. The vegetarian food is absolutely delicious in India. Due to frequent power cuts and the effects on refrigeration that this has, meat is much more likely to be contaminated than vegetarian food. Staying clear of it may reduce your chances of falling ill.


But… trust your instincts

Don’t be paranoid about getting sick in India. Even if you follow all of these tips, there is still a chance that you will get sick — I did! Use your judgement and eat what you think looks good and what you believe is safe. Don’t let paranoia ruin your trip and most importantly, enjoy the journey!


Over to you: what are your tips for staying healthy when travelling?

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    April 12, 2016 at 4:11 pm

    Very interesting article, thanks for sharing this great tips!

    March 6, 2016 at 1:14 am

    Where can we get vaccinated in India.

    December 12, 2015 at 1:37 am

    Very useful article. Have bookmarked it for future reference. Keep posting….

    October 9, 2015 at 3:58 pm

    If you do happen to fall victim to Delhi Belly, having some activated charcoal on hand can help to relieve abdominal discomfort, bloating and wind. Containing peppermint oil as well, these tables have a soothing effect on the digestive tract.

    Sunil Jain
    August 7, 2015 at 6:11 pm

    Thanks for sharing such a nice post and information related to healthy eating for traveling in India. This detail is so beneficial for all tourist who want to visit India and seen most beautiful place in India .

    July 8, 2015 at 2:31 am

    These are great tips! I want to travel to India one day, and will have to keep these in mind for when I go!


    Vivekk trivedi
    July 5, 2015 at 12:00 pm

    These tips are really good and necessary I am a tour lecturer in india and ever we meet our foreign guests we tell them the same thing
    vivekk trivedi

    Vivekk trivedi
    July 5, 2015 at 11:58 am

    I truly agree with this blog I am a tour lecturer in india and ever we meet our foreign guests we tell them the same thing
    vivekk trivedi

    June 29, 2015 at 7:32 am

    Those were some really good tips!! I always wanted to go to India, because it´s just seems like such an amazing country. Might gonna use them for when I go!
    By the way I´m gonna live in Berlin for the summer as well (:

    alfredo ciano
    June 28, 2015 at 9:24 am

    An Excellent Point of View on a Trip in India : Dreams & Truth…

    Claire @ TallGirlBigWorld
    June 26, 2015 at 4:55 am

    These are great tips for anyone traveling in SE Asia. I had to be careful about what I ate in Cambodia as well. These are some good rules of thumb to stick by; thanks for sharing!

    Stephanie Rogers
    June 25, 2015 at 9:22 pm

    I wish I’d read this post sooner! I’m off to India on the 12th July. Will be following these tips carefully! Great post!

    June 25, 2015 at 6:30 pm

    Such great tips for traveling to any developing country where your body may not be used to the water. Thank you so much for these, I never thought about the ice in your drinks but OBVIOUSLY it can cause problems too!

    And people need to relax, you don’t make India sound like a dump. It’s a fact that people get sick from the water and some of the food, and if this article prevents even one person from getting “Delhi belly” then it’s WORTH IT.

    jessica wright
    June 25, 2015 at 11:30 am

    Great post Rachel and so helpful in traveling healthy. Thanks!

    June 25, 2015 at 7:25 am

    Such great tips! I am wondering if you would happen to have any advice on Vietnam? I am going on assignment there in the Fall to review a tour Contiki offers and I am unsure as to whether I really do need Malaria pills. I am hearing mixed reviews but am quite horrified by the side effects of nightmares people report on.

    Any thoughts?


    Travel journalist/blogger

    June 25, 2015 at 1:06 am

    Last december I was in India and I totally agree with all the things you said!
    But I would add that it would be good to stay away from milk, ice cream etc…. The electricity in India breaks down rather often which means that coolers and freezer don´t work for a certain amount of time and things inside melt.
    Love from Germany,

    JJ Berman
    June 24, 2015 at 11:43 am

    These are great tips! I would add to #8. Yogurt is a great way to get probiotics, so why not try raita (usually savory yogurt sauce)? It is delicious, helps with digestion, and easy to find in many areas in India.

    June 24, 2015 at 7:39 am

    This post is really helpful for me since I’m planning to go to India next year. I have known about most stuff like how water is unclean, but I haven’t planned on visiting my doctor to discuss vaccination, but I’m totally going to do it soon now.

    June 24, 2015 at 3:25 am

    I think that the point about eating vegetarian is a great one! I used to babysit for an Indian family and loved nothing more than the evenings they invited me to stay for dinner. At the end of it, I was never anything short of stuffed!


    Kimberly Purcell
    June 24, 2015 at 1:06 am

    Great tips! Good for anywhere you may travel.


    June 23, 2015 at 10:06 pm

    Oh dear god… your article made india sound like some crap bag. So if you are in some other country you should not use sanitizer? Or you should drink tap water? Even if you buy some fruit from super market you sre suppose to wash it then eat… if you are visiting to some slum area then only you need all that vaccination. Also i have seen many people even i myself have eat street food its delecious & safe too, not at evry place but all the famous street food counters are safe… !! It is a great experience to be in india.

    • Rachel Bale
      June 24, 2015 at 12:28 am

      I agree — travelling to India is an incredible experience! I’m glad you feel the same. These tips can definitely be applied to other developing countries for sure, Veronika. They’re pretty universal. Unfortunately, the reality is that India is the country where the most travellers get sick in the world. But I’m so glad to hear that you got to enjoy some delicious street food. I did too and it was some of the best food I had during my trip. Using common sense is the best tip of all!

    June 23, 2015 at 6:20 pm

    Try in your first trip to be with someone with experience in India.

    Mima Isono
    June 23, 2015 at 6:08 pm

    Agree on all points raise in the post especially not to take ice and only drink from bottled water. Street food is no no when in India. It’s not to limit myself from food adventure but being healthy on travel is above all.

    Ivy Kriste
    June 23, 2015 at 5:16 pm

    Food in India is mostly unsafe. Water is the culprit, most of the times contaminated water is used for cooking and washing. Be careful…

      Vivekk trivedi
      July 5, 2015 at 12:03 pm

      This is not true I do not agree with you

    June 23, 2015 at 2:51 pm

    I was getting prepared to go to China and visited my doctor to get my vaccinations. Foods that you think are safe like watermelon can be incredibly dangerous! My doctor was telling me that they ‘inject’ the watermelon with iridescent pink water to make it more appealing when it’s cut. This could be a universal trick, so you just have to be so careful, and it could be used in so many foods. But these are great tips!

    June 23, 2015 at 1:40 pm

    I agree with these, but you’ve made it sound like all of India is dirty,unclean and unhygienic, when that’s not the case! This article would have been lovely and helpful , but you’ve made India sound like a dumpster, when it’s the exact opposite.

    • Rachel Bale
      June 24, 2015 at 12:20 am

      I agree with you — there is so much diversity in India! That’s part of the reason why I love it so much. But if you plan to travel and eat locally (like I did) and not just in hotels or fancy restaurants, it’s best to be smart about it and take a few precautions.

    Kavinder Bisht
    June 23, 2015 at 11:45 am

    Great article follow your tips..Thanks Rachel

    June 23, 2015 at 11:15 am

    I agree, take what steps to be safe but don’t let the paranoia ruin your trip! Sometimes it is all part of the experience. I can’t wait to get back to India one day!

    • Rachel Bale
      June 24, 2015 at 12:17 am

      It definitely is Jess! And it’s so worth it! I’d love to go back too 🙂