A 25-year-old who was left looking nine-months pregnant with ‘Bali Belly’ after taking a cheap holiday had to fly to Greece to get the problem fixed after failing to find a cure on the NHS. Sabrina Sarmoria, 25, from Leeds, started travelling as a student, sometimes getting tickets for less than £3.

Sabrina said: “The travel bug bit me after my first holiday to Corfu, Greece. As soon as I returned, I booked my next holiday in Turkey. While studying Business Management and Marketing at Leeds Beckett University, I started catching cheap flights every month – the cheapest being just £2.99! Unfortunately, you can’t get flights this cheap anymore!”

Sabrina, who has 176k followers on TikTok and 2.4 million likes, said her motivation to document her travels on social media stemmed from health issues. “I have Rheumatoid Arthritis, so I know I won’t be able to travel forever. This was a way for me to reflect on what I did in my life whilst physically able to.

Sabrina was left with a badly swollen abdomen
Sabrina was left with a badly swollen abdomen

“So many people asked me how I could travel so often, and this is when I began to share how I could travel more affordably and how others could do it,” she explained. Her content quickly gained popularity, inspiring others to travel more affordably and enjoy similar experiences.

Despite having travelled to over 40 countries, Sabrina’s recent trip to Bali stands out for all the wrong reasons. “I flew to Bali at the beginning of March and ended up leaving early. My overall experience of the province was utterly terrible. Out of all the places I’ve travelled, this is one destination I will never revisit,” she insisted.

“From the moment we landed, we encountered scam after scam. As we were about to book a taxi online, a man approached us at the airport, offering immediate transportation to our hotel but at more than triple the usual rate. I declined, showing him the actual price on my phone, and we eventually agreed on a slightly higher fare for the convenience.

Sabrina on one of her holidays
Sabrina on one of her holidays

“During the journey, he pretended to mishear the hotel name and address, even though we had shown him the full details beforehand. He claimed he was driving in the wrong direction and needed to turn around, which would cost more. I was tracking our route on Google Maps and knew he was lying, as the street signs confirmed we were on the right path.

“After a heated argument, we finally reached our hotel, but only after paying almost double the initially agreed amount.” Then there was the issue of pollution. Sabrina continued: “In Canggu, the constant construction noise disrupted our sleep, and the pollution was overwhelming, with many bikes spewing black smog everywhere. Despite this, we decided to walk down the beach to enjoy the sand and sea.

“To our dismay, we encountered heaps of rubbish, including debris from construction sites and plastic bottles hitting surfers in the water. This was all within the first 48 hours, and the problems continued, from more scams to my hair turning blonde from the pool chemicals!”

The most distressing part of her Bali trip, however, was contracting Bali Belly, a form of traveller’s diarrhoea caused by consuming contaminated food or water. “When I first began experiencing symptoms of Bali Belly, I felt nauseous. I thought maybe I hadn’t drunk enough, but I really couldn’t eat any more food without feeling like throwing up. Then the extreme bloating began and stomach pain,” she said.

Despite her efforts to manage the symptoms with over-the-counter remedies, her condition worsened, leaving her with a painfully swollen stomach. Upon returning to the UK, Sabrina sought help from the NHS but found the process could have been more helpful.

Sabrina on one of her holidays with her boyfriend
Sabrina on one of her holidays with her boyfriend

“I called the doctors to arrange an appointment and got a telephone appointment. They told me to go and get a blood test, so I went to the hospital to have them done,” she added. “However, weeks passed without any results or follow-up. This was in April; we are in July now, and I still haven’t had the test results.”

Desperate for relief, Sabrina sought medical treatment in Greece during a pre-planned trip. The difference in healthcare experience was stark. “I walked into the doctor’s office, paid €60, and was seen immediately. The doctor said it sounded like a parasite and prescribed me antibiotics,” she explained.

“Although I began to feel better with the antibiotics, the symptoms persisted, leading me to continue taking probiotics and being cautious with my diet.” This ordeal not only impacted Sabrina but also her partner, who experienced severe symptoms that required hospitalisation.

Sabrina on one of her holidays
Sabrina on one of her holidays

“My boyfriend’s symptoms got a lot worse, and he ended up having an abscess. It ruptured and got infected, and he became really sick, so I took him to the hospital in Thailand. He received treatment immediately; the doctors and healthcare team were fantastic,” she said.

Reflecting on the experience, Sabrina advises fellow travellers about staying safe and healthy. “Always take charcoal tablets no matter where you travel. Your stomach can get upset a little if it’s not used to the spices, bacteria, cooking methods, and so on. This stops diarrhoea and means you can explore and enjoy your holiday. Also, be cautious with food and drink, even in seemingly safe environments. I did everything you’re told to do, only drank bottled water, didn’t have ice in my drinks, chose establishments with better reviews, and ate at the 4 and 5-star hotels I stayed at.”

Despite the challenges, Sabrina remains undeterred in her passion for travel and content creation. “My future goal is to be the number one reputable, affordable holiday content creator from the UK. I want to show people that they don’t need to break the bank to have these amazing memories,” she said.

She has her sights set on an African safari. “For my personal adventures, there’s one thing I really want to tick off my bucket list: doing a safari in Kenya or Botswana. I’m a big animal lover, so this would be a dream trip,” she said.