When I tell my friends I love street food, they first ask me if I have ever gotten sick. I am proud to tell them that I have never used the Immodium I keep in my carry-on bag.

Street food is not only a cheap option for a meal, but also enables you to experience the best and authentic street food available in many cities. Restaurants aren’t always safer. Before you try everything sold at a street cart, here are some tips to help you live the street-meat lifestyle. These are our tips to help you relax and feel more comfortable with food handling environments.

1. It should be freshly prepared

It is also a good idea find out what locals eat and to get an idea of how the food looks. Travelers and locals won’t sing the praises for chicken skewers that were left in the heat all day.

2. Be on the lookout for busy stalls and lines

Street food stalls that are busy are a sign of popularity. Their high turnover rate ensures that food does not sit out for long periods of time and develops dreaded bacteria. Although long lines can be frustrating after a hard day of exploration, it is not worth risking your health by ordering food from the next-door spot. However, there is a caveat. Just because there’s a line outside Wat Pho for squid on sticks doesn’t mean the cart is great–it may be busy due to its location. Look for a line with locals and order what they are ordering. When you are hungry and have a language barrier, it’s fine to point and nod your head. It’s like Yelp for real.

3. Eat where the locals eat

The most crucial element is whatto eat. While you may be used to a strange eating pattern while traveling, it is important to adjust to your local eating habits. While a bowl of Pho may be considered lunch for Americans, it is breakfast for Vietnamese. This will ensure that you eat freshly prepared food, and that you find the most popular and best places to eat.

4. You can’t have the salad if you don’t drink enough water

People get so focused on skipping ice or not drinking water that they forget to consider all the other uses of water in food service. Although eating fresh strawberries or a salad may seem like a welcome break from the carb-heavy street food, it is much more likely that you will get sick. Most fruits and vegetables are washed in tap water, or sometimes with no water at all. You can either peel fruits or cook vegetables if you really want to eat some fruit.

5. Trust your gut

Keep moving if you are unsure about the food and the preparation. You don’t have to be an expert just because you eat street food around the world. Each stall and each country is different and the rules may be more difficult to follow. Don’t eat anything that doesn’t smell, look or feel right. Your judgment is important. There’s a good chance that another place is nearby that makes something better.