Getting sick anywhere sucks—but getting the flu, a stomach bug, or worse while traveling takes the misery to a whole new level. Not only are you in an unfamiliar place, perhaps somewhere where you can’t communicate with a doctor, let alone navigate the health care system, but you’ve invested money and precious vacation days towards an escape and now you can’t even get out of your hotel bed. It’s a risk we all take and we’ve all suffered the consequences of letting our guard down. On this week’s episode of Travelogue, the podcast of Condé Nast Traveler, we share our own stories of sickness and medical emergencies abroad, what we learned from them, and look at the precautions you can take to avoid a ruined vacation.

We also break down the most common reasons people get sick and what you should do to prepare yourself based on where you’re headed. By looking at our own experiences, we examine some age old questions. Are iron-clad stomachs a result of nature or nurture? What’s more dangerous—the salad at a five-star hotel or a plate of bhel puri from a Mumbai street-food stall? How important is it really to consult a doctor before traveling to an unfamiliar country? (Spoiler alert: very). There are stories of organ-destroying parasites, plane rides in which we spent more time in the lavatory than in our seats, and references to at least two different words that end with “rhea”. It gets graphic, it gets funny, it gets scary. Brace yourselves.

Thanks as always to our host Brad Rickman and sound engineer Brett Fuchs. A special thank you to Traveler‘s Andrea Whittle, Mark Ellwood, and Sebastian Modak for putting it all out on the table and telling their own stories of sickness. How much science did we get wrong? Tweet at us and let us know—we’re travelers not infectious disease specialists. As always, check back every Friday for the latest installment of Travelogue. To keep up with our podcast each week, subscribe to Travelogue on the iTunes store or wherever you get your podcasts, and if you have a minute to spare, leave a review—we love to hear from you.