Food poisoning is one of the worst things that could happen on vacation, which is why the Royal Family is extra strict about their diet while traveling.
This might come as a surprise to some. After all, to be apart of the Royal Family means you pretty much have an all-access VIP pass to dine at the best restaurants in the world and feast on the most exquisite delicacies fit for, well, a royal.
But, according to Health.com, the Royals are so cautious about what they eat abroad that they even skip shellfish altogether when they’re outside of the U.K.
It makes sense. Shellfish, like oysters, clams, and mussels, can contain marine toxins, which can be caused by bacteria and viruses from contaminated water, and is also easy to spoil if it isn’t properly refrigerated or handled.
Shellfish poisoning is a risk for anyone who enjoys traveling, especially to areas of the developing world, but with the Royals having such busy schedules that require tons of public appearances, they can’t afford to succumb to a bad bout of food poisoning while away.
If you’re planning on a vacation soon and are worried about your own risk of developing food poisoning, here are some royal-worthy precautions you can take.
Drink Only Safe Water
The Royal Family also avoids drinking tap water while traveling, which is a safe rule-of-thumb for everyone, even us commoners. In many developing countries, the local water supply is not as clean or safe to drink, which can lead to illness.
Your best bet is to drink bottled water with a secure seal that hasn’t been broken. Water purifying tablets and tools, like travel-sized water purifier systems, are other alternatives you might want to consider depending on where you’re traveling.
Important to note: brushing your teeth with tap water can also cause you to get sick, so you should use bottled water for your bathroom duties, too.
Choose Your Food Wisely
In addition to avoiding shellfish, the Royal Family also steers clear of meat cooked rare as well as “exotic dishes that are heavy on fragrant spices outside of their regular diet.”
Though half of the fun of traveling is discovering new delicious dishes, when in doubt, you should err on the side of caution. Choose foods that are completely cooked and freshly made (not something pre-made that’s been warmed up in a microwave, for example), and avoid eating raw foods that are washed in the local tap water, like fruits and veggies, which could also be contaminated. (Yes, sorry, that means most salads!)
And if you don’t know how your body is going to react to a certain new dish then you might want to avoid it just in case.
Be Cautious Where You Eat
The Royals might have an advantage when it comes to eating at the most exclusive events and restaurants abroad, but you can also be selective about where you choose to eat.
Your best bet is to research the restaurants, including street vendors, of your destination before you visit and check out reviews on such sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor. There’s also a website called IWasPoisoned.com in which diners can both report and check out where someone contracted food poisoning.
Another tip? Go where the locals go. Chances are if there’s a long line of regular patrons in front of a cafe or street vendor, then the coast is clear. Although, again, you can never be 100% sure.
Although you might not ever get to really travel like a Royal, you can adhere to their food restrictions while on a vacation in order to avoid a week-long stay at your hotel room’s bathroom.
It should be noted, however, that not all Royals follow the strict food code religiously. Prince Charles is known to partake in a seafood dish now and then while abroad. You only live once, right? But then you have to wonder — is that clam worth the risk?
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