Travel Tales: Getting Sick Abroad

Of all the foods I’ve eaten; offal, blood and chicken feet, it was an empanada that coerced my body into betraying me and giving me that, never wanted, holiday sickness.

I was in Toulouse sat in a charmingly quaint hole-in-the-wall style restaurant, and with the vivid colours and memorabilia which was strewn across the room it felt more like being in an Argentinian home than a restaurant.

S had chosen a restaurant called Caminito Empanadas Argentinas and because I wasn’t awake at the time of choosing (I love a good nap) I didn’t get a choice. Which, to be honest, is probably a good thing considering I had woken up hangry and was being unbearable because despite it being European summer, it was raining and I was cold. Which is exactly what I was running away from with our spontaneous motorbike trip! After throwing on S’ jumper and sulkily leaving the warmth of the hotel bed, we wandered through the alleyways, across the square and, after a few wrong turns, we found ourselves outside. Small posters lined the windows and the words ‘dulche de leche churros’ practically shouted at me from the menu, instantly lifting my mood. A painted backless bench was placed beneath the window, a sign that usually signifies a busy spot, but due to the fact that we were there ridiculously early by European standards; we were able to nab a table.

Chimchurri sauce took center stage on the tables and after perusing the menu, I was well over my post-nap grump and eager to get stuck in. I went for Jamon Y Queso; a jambon, cheddar and creme fraiche empanada because 1) I wanted something reasonably plain so I could smother it in chimchurri sauce, and 2) I wanted to leave room for the churros, naturally. I couldn’t possible tell you what S had because, well, because I was too excited about my food to remember.

As we waited for our empanadas to come the restaurant began to pack out; couples, families and extended friendship groups spilled out around the tables. It was clearly a popular place and the mixture of French, English and a handful of other languages conversing in the background soothed my wander-lusting soul.

The moment our food arrived I was straight in; cutting into my empanada and watching as the molten cheese spilled onto my plate. I went to take a bite before realising that impatiently burning my tongue now would mean missing out on flavour later, and so I preserved my tastebuds by doing the normal thing and waiting for my food to cool down. As I was waiting for the stream of deliciousness to subside, I realised that I didn’t feel so good. Like, I really didn’t feel so good. Cold, hot. Cold, hot. My temperature gauge was off and I began to feel incredibly… broken. There was one toilet in the building and in the name of greed and self-preservation the moment it became available I leapt up took it. I slathered my face in a combination of handwash and ice-cold water in an attempt to hide the fact that I was starting to look a lot like death, if death had just done a HIIT session, but it didn’t help. Mere seconds later and that panicking feeling of sheer dread over whether you’re going to, throw up or shit yourself, in the middle of a restaurant set in (I’ll save you the details of which end it came out of – yano, keep the mystery alive between us and all that). But there isn’t anything worse than finding yourself in a packed restaurant, with your hotel room an eleven minute walk away and not a single Imodium tablet in sight. (Did I ruin the mystery?)

A few minutes later and I felt ok enough to be able to leave the confines of my toilet shaped safety net to return to the table. “Erm Sam… I don’t want to ruin your dinner but we sorta kinda have to leave because I have an issue” but before I could say anything more I was back in the toilet. Pfft, “feeling ok to leave my bloody arse” I thought to myself, rather ironically. As I sat there with my ass glued to the seat I tactfully tried to plot my escape back to the hotel via google maps. Planning a carefully curated route made up of back allies and side streets with toilets that were just a few meters away, but then my battery died and so my plans were scuppered. An eternity later and we managed to leave, stop at a shop, and return to the hotel without my dropping my dignity, but that night? Let’s just say that being in a small (un-sound-proofed) room with little more than a bed and a bathroom, there is not a single bit of mystery left between myself and S…

So, because holiday sickness sucks, and holiday sickness when you need to do the next leg of your motorbike trip (4 hours) the next day is even worse… I thought I’d share my top tips for surviving spontaneous sickness.

1: Pop Imodium like they’re M&Ms and hope you don’t crap your pants.

That’s it.
Top tips over.
There is nothing more you can do.
Joke, joke, joke.
My actual tips are:

  1. Drink Up.
    This is obviously done by drinking liquids, and plenty of them. But you need to avoid the good stuff, like hard-liquor and fizzy, and drink the good for you stuff, like water, and, well. Water.
  2. Rest Up.
    Getting sick whilst on holiday is the worst, and whilst you may want to be out exploring, staying in the comfort of your accommodation is probably for the best, not just because you’re probably gross and contagious, but because doing stuff whilst suffering from holiday sickness is effort. So wriggle into your jim-jams and relax. I give you full-blown permission to nap, doze and slumber until your heart(and arse) are content.
  3. Dose up.
    Vitamins, re-hydration salts and over-the-counter (non-aspirin based) pain relievers are all helpful, because honestly? Your body will need all the help it can get!
  4. Clean up.
    Have you smelt yourself when suffering from sickness? You’re pretty gross. You’re also harbouring small colonies of germs pretty much everywhere, so after a healthy dose of self-pity and recuperation, it’s time to get up, wash any clothes/bed sheets that you used and throw yourself under the shower. Trust me. You’ll need it.
  5. Wise up.
    Get travel insurance. Always. I’ve written about the reasons why you need travel insurance in this article but if this were to happen on a day you were due to fly, or you were to suffer from more than a little spontaneous holiday sickness, you’ll be glad it was in place.
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Have you ever found yourself in a shitty (excuse the pun) situation whilst abroad?
Let me know in the comments so I feel less humiliated!

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