Today, I want to talk about a topic that sucks but happens to the best of us: getting sick when you’re traveling. We’ve all been there – the dreaded sore throat, the stuffy nose, or that annoying cough that just won’t quit. In this article, we’ll explore some practical tips to help you cope with traveling while sick, including things you can bring with you, and things you can find in almost any city.
If you are pregnant or have any major medical conditions, speak to your doctor.)
Wear a Mask
Good for: Protecting others from airborne ailments.
If the COVID-19 Pandemic brought us anything, it was the introduction of face masks in Western culture. Now, I will wear my mask any time I am sick and in public. Not only that, but I still wear a mask in most airports and on most flights.
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.
Good for: Sore throats. Congestion. Headaches.
Look, you may think a humidifier is too bulky to take with you on vacation, but technology has come far, and 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.
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!
Good for: Sore throats.
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.
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!
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.
Good for: EVERYTHING.
Drown the sickness out. Order a water with EVERYTHING. Better yet, have a water bottle on you at all times.
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!
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.
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 alcohol. 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.
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.
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!
Make sure you’re not TOO sick to fly home. 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, especially if you’re flying home. 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’ve tested positive for COVID-19
• If you have severe sinus or ear infections