Traveling When You’re Sick: How To Make It Suck Less

First off, condolences – if you’re reading this, it probably means you’re sick. Or maybe you’re just one of those people who somehow gets sick on every vacation, and you want to be proactive. Either way, I am here to help. Last year I got sick halfway through our visit to Denver, and was sick the last three days. But I didn’t let it ruin our trip. I powered through, using a few simple items that can be found in almost any convenience store. So here are my tips on how to make it suck just a little less when you’re traveling and sick.

(Disclaimer: I am NOT a doctor and have no medical education. I just get sick a lot.
If you are pregnant or have any major medical conditions, speak to your doctor.)

First things first, make sure you’re not TOO sick to fly. If you have the option, it’s better to avoid flying when you’re sick, but I know it’s not always an option to change your travel plans at the drop of a hat. However, absolutely talk to a doctor first if….

• If you have a fever over 100°F
• If it’s hard to breathe
• If you have any sort of chest pain
• If you have the stomach flu
• If you have severe sinus or ear infections

Airborne

Good for: Colds. Boosting your immune system in general.
My go-to product whenever I’m feeling crummy. For its full potential, take it when you first feel a cold coming on, but there’s no harm in taking it when you’re already sick either. It’s basically a super dose of vitamins. It’s the same idea as Emergen-C, but I always get better results with Airborne because there’s more vitamins than just Vitamin C. Even though they’re disgusting, I always use to the dissolvable tablets. They’re gross, but they do the trick.

Travel humidifier

Good for: Sore throats. Congestion. Headaches.
Look, you may think a humidifier is too bulky to take with you on vacation – but it’s 2018 – they make travel size ones now! One of my favorites is the kind that attaches right to a bottle of water. I use mine at my desk at work, but it’s great for travel too.

Saline nasal spray

Good for: Congestion. Dry sinuses.
NOT Afrin, NOT Flonase, SALINE SPRAY. Afrin and Flonase are great, but you can only use them twice a day for a couple of days. Saline spray is just that, saline. You don’t have to worry about how many times you’ve used it. And it’s so satisfying when you’re congested. If you’re flying, be sure to take this before and after your flight too. Planes dehydrate your whole body even when you’re healthy – so drink lots of water, and use some saline spray. Your sinuses will thank you later.

Ibuprofen

Good for: Headaches. Inflamed sinuses. Sore throat. Fever.
Ibuprofen has a million benefits. I take it with me on every single trip, no matter what. I love ibuprofen because it’s not only a pain-killer, but an anti-inflammatory. Of course, always check the info on the bottle for how much you should take. Or better yet, ask a doctor if you can!

Cough drops

Good for: Sore throats.
Preferably ones with Zinc. There’s nothing worse than having a dry cough when traveling, so make sure to have lots of cough drops with you. I usually take one right before I go to sleep too, because I always wake up coughing when I’m sick – and cough drops help soothe my throat before bed.

Gargling Salt Water

Good for: Sore throats. Colds. Sinus Infections. Tonsil stones.
Gargling salt water has been a remedy for hundreds of years. While many people associate it with a trick their grandmother taught them, there IS actual science to back it up. Without getting too sciencey, basically, it helps flush out bacteria in your throat while also creating a barrier. This is an especially great remedy when you’re traveling because you can find salt and water virtually anywhere.

Green Tea

Good for: Colds. Sore and/or inflamed throats.
It has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties – not to mention warm tea on a sore throat feels heavenly. Adding a little honey is great for the throat, and the taste!

Peppermints

Good for: Congestion. Nausea. Headaches. Indigestion.
In high school, whenever we went to the school nurse for anything, she would always give us a peppermint. She claimed it was a natural remedy for pretty much everything, and it wasn’t until years later I discovered she wasn’t full of bull. Peppermint has a seriously long list of benefits. While some people may prefer the essential oils, I enjoy good old-fashioned red and white peppermint candies. They are cheaper, easier to find in a store, they have all the same benefits, plus fresh breath is never bad.

FLUIDS

Good for: EVERYTHING.
Drown the sickness out. Order a water with EVERYTHING. Better yet, bring a water bottle with you.

Other tips!

Don’t touch your face – Unless you wash your hands every time you use your phone (or touch anything at all), the best way to stop spreading those germs is to avoid touching your face. You’re probably unaware of how often you touch your face until you actively think about it.

Bring, like, a TON of travel size tissues – Don’t get stuck with a runny nose and no tissues. Or maybe you’re like me and occasionally get nosebleeds when you’re sick. Either way, bring a bunch of the travel size tissues with you to throw in your bag. You’ll go through them faster than you think. I usually carry a small ziplock bag to keep the dirty ones in too.

Hand sanitizer and wipes – So important, not only for yourself, but for everyone around you. Of course you want to wash your hands as often as possible, but sinks are not always available. Wipes are good for everything – your phone, airplane trays, door knobs, whatever!

Get enough sleep – It’s so much harder for your body to fight off sickness if you’re tired on top of it all. Go to bed at a reasonable hour. Sleep in a little! You will enjoy your trip so much more if you’re well rested.

Don’t drink. Don’t smoke. – I don’t think I have to explain why to not smoke when you’re sick. But let me take a moment to explain why you should avoid alcohol. First, there is the obvious danger of mixing alcohol with medications. Two, alcohol quickly dehydrates your body, making it that much harder to recover. Overall, alcohol will prolong your recovery time – just say no.

Make sure you have your medical insurance card on you – Just in case, always have your insurance card on you when traveling. Or if you are traveling internationally, always always get travel health insurance. It’s worth the peace of mind. I always carry my red cross card on me too, which lists my blood type. Better safe than sorry!

 
 

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25 Comments

    • That’s something you’ll want to talk to your doctor about! He/she will know which one is best for you depending on where you’re going.

  1. Travelling when you’re not feeling well and fit is a nightmare. Especially when flying. A great suggestion is a nasal spray, as I always get a sore dry nose on planes. I am not sure about the security rules, would we be allowed to carry it on us at all? Drinking plenty of water is vital, even more, when travelling to hot countries. Dehydration happens all so quickly, especially to older people. Maybe the most important tip from above is carrying your international health insurance card when going abroad. Health issues on holiday could end up being ridiculously expensive otherwise!

  2. Some great tips! I had to travel sick a lot when I worked as a flight attendant and it sucks. I totally agree that sometimes you need to do it, but that it’s important to reconsider for certain symptoms. Our health is so important! Xx

    • Motrin and Ibuprofen are essentially the same thing – but everyone has a preference! I have friends that will ONLY take Advil, nothing else. My preference is ibuprofen though lol

  3. I always have travel anti-bacterial wipes to wipe hands and wipe stuff down. I eat raw lemons and have them in tea everyday so that’s natural Vitamin C but I might take some Emergen-C or something similar on my upcoming trip.

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