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The most common question I get from readers is how to avoid Bali belly on their family holidays to Bali. There is nothing worse than spending your holidays stuck in the bathroom and it’s even worse when little kids get it!
The following information is what I have collected over the years of travelling to Bali and is not medical information. Seek professional advice from a doctor if you need further information.
Table of Contents
What is Bali Belly?
Bali Belly is the term given to diarrhoea and/or vomiting caused by consuming contaminated food and water. Poor food handling practices and drinking untreated water are ways that the bugs can spread.
The types of bugs that can cause Bali Belly include:
Bacteria: Most commonly E. coli
Viruses: Rotavirus and norovirus can be present when Bali belly is diagnosed
Parasites: Gardia being the most common
Tips to prevent Bali Belly
There are many different ways travellers to Bali try to prevent contracting Bali Belly. I know some people do none of these tips and are still fine. Where as others are really, really careful and do their best to avoid it and still end up with it!
I have travelled to Bali over 10 times and have only vomited once and was fine 2 hours later. The kids and Jed have never had Bali Belly but we unfortunately have had gastro in Australia many times!
Wash hands and using hand sanitizer is a must if you are trying to avoid any bugs that can make you sick, this goes for in Australia too! Make sure you use hand hygiene practices before eating, after going to the toilet, if you have coughed into them, the list goes on.
This also applys to the places that are preparing your food. If they use good hand hygiene practices and use filtered water to prepare the food you will have less of a chance of contracting Bali belly.
Don’t drink the tap water
It’s best to drink filtered water in Bali. Try to reduce your plastic consumption by taking a drink bottle and refilling it where you can. A lot of villas and even some hotels will have filtered water dispensers for you to use. Also when you are brushing your teeth use the filtered water rather than the tap water. We find a great way to remind the kids is to cover the taps with a towel so they don’t automatically turn on the tap.
In general ice that is used in drinks and reputable establishments will be fine and I have drank many drinks with ice in them. The ice cubes in Asia that are circular with a hole are made from filtered water. If you have any concerns, just ask for your drink with no ice.
Be mindful of the food you eat
When you are choosing food to eat make sure it is hot and cooked well. Food that has been sitting luke warm all day should be avoided and buffets that have a high refresh rate due to lots of patrons are best.
We eat salads and fresh vegetables in Bali but we do choose places that have good hand hygiene practices. Likewise street stalls that cook the food fresh in front of you are a great cheap source of food in Bali. If you are concerned steer clear of street food vendors and salads.
Use products to avoid contracting Bali Belly
There are a few things that we do to try and avoid the dreaded Bali Belly.
- Probiotics: We focus on gut health in our house so use probiotics regularly but also recommend for families to do this too when travelling to Bali. I buy my probiotics from Amazon or iHerb. Feel free to use the iHerb link to get 10% off your first order.
- Travelan: We tested out this product on our October 2019 family holiday to Bali and Singapore and no one had Bali Belly! You take a tablet before each meal and I love that it is listed as a medicine on the Australian Register for Therapeutic Goods. This can only be only used by kids younger than 6 years old under medical advice.
- Travelbug by Ethical Nutrients: This is another product we have used previously on our Bali holidays with great success. You do need to keep it refrigerated before you travel but it can then stay out of the fridge for 4 weeks. The capsules can be pulled apart and the contents mixed in the kids breakfast.
- Red cordial: We have never tried this method but I have heard lots of success with it. A shot of red cordial each day they say helps to keep Bali Belly away.
- Remember that a change in diet can often give you unwanted symptoms like diarrhoea and an upset tummy.
If you get Bali Belly what can you do?
So you have managed to contract the dreaded Bali belly what can you do now?
- Activated Charcoal can be a great way to get rid of the toxins and is readily available in Bali at Apotek’s (pharmacies). Look for Norit in a yellow container. You can also buy it on Amazon or iHerb and we regularly use it at home for gut health.
- Travelan and Travel Bug can both lessen the symptoms once you have contracted it.
- Keep hydrated with filtered water and please seek medical attention if young or elderly. Babies and toddlers can dehydrate very quickly so keep an eye on nappies to make sure they aren’t dry and an electrolyte like hydralyte is great to travel with.
- Coconut water is great and avoid caffeine and alcohol while you are sick.
We all try our best to avoid getting Bali Belly but focusing on it too much won’t change if you are going to get it or not. Do your best and try to enjoy your next Bali family holiday. This is a great article on dealing with Bali Belly once you return home.
Feel free to join our Facebook group as there are lots of tips from other families that travel to Bali with their kids.
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