I keep running into people who have not traveled much and it is disheartening to me sometimes to realize how much bad advice is out there. For the record, here’s what I ignore on a regular basis on the road.
Don’t drink the water. Revised version: don’t gulp down tap water. In Mexico and many other countries, even the locals drink water from a 5-gallon dispenser and virtually all ice, licuados, smoothies, etc. are made from the same. Use a purifier (like a Steripen) for those rare cases where you are without.
If you can’t peel it, don’t eat it. Are you really going to exist on nothing but bananas and oranges for weeks? Life’s too short. People who follow this advice get sick anyway because their body freaks out when they face anything that doesn’t come in a factory-sealed package.
Don’t eat street food. Nearly every great meal I can remember in any country around the world was from a street stall. This is where local people eat every day and if they get sick they’ll stop coming. From Mexico to Vietnam to southern India, street food is the essence of the country. It’s fresh, it’s hot, and it’s made right in front of you. In a restaurant, who knows?
Be extra careful in [insert country here]. After visiting close to 50 countries at this point, I just don’t buy it. The advice is consistent anywhere: unless you’re in a war zone (or maybe in Rome), common sense prevails. Keep your money under your pants, your jewelry at home, and your laptop or other gadgets locked up in your room. Oh, and don’t get wasted on designer drugs at a Full Moon Party in Thailand and then bitch about how someone stole the $200 you had in your back pocket. That’s called being “a mark” and you had it coming.