How to Cope with Traveling When Sick
It’s been said that there are only two certainties in life: death and taxes. When it comes to the holidays and the dreaded cold and flu season, those two certainties change to traveling and getting sick. Although it’s best to avoid travel altogether when you’re feeling under the weather, that’s not always possible, and illness often strikes when it’s too late to turn back. There are ways, however, to cope with being sick during business or leisure travel. Follow these tips to stay comfortable and on track to feeling better.
1. Avoid flying, if possible
Flying with the flu or a cold is adverse not just for you but for your fellow travelers as well. The changes in elevation put added pressure on your sinuses, the dry cabin air is dehydrating, motion sickness can upset your stomach and germs spread like wildfire. If you have the option to travel by car or train, choose those over flying. Your body and your would-be flight companions will thank you.
2. Pack your carry-on wisely
If it’s too late to cancel your flight and you have to fly, pack your carry-on with items that will ease your cold symptoms and keep you comfortable during the flight, such as:
• Medicine – Stored in 3.4 oz (100 ml) containers to meet TSA requirements
• Healthy snacks – Make sure they’re easy on your stomach and throat (if it’s sore)
• Cough drops
• Gum – For keeping your Eustachian tubes clear, which can be blocked by both congestion and elevation during the flight
• Herbal tea bags – Ask a flight attendant for a cup of hot water, and you can enjoy your own soothing tea – a simple comfort if you have to fly when you’re not feeling well.
Check out more ideas in our articles Tips for Dealing with Travel Anxiety and Getting Rid of Flight Sickness or Soothing an Upset Stomach
3. Avoid caffeine and alcohol
It’s tempting to resort to caffeine to power through the day when you’re not feeling well, but it’ll do more harm than good. Caffeine is dehydrating and robs your body of much-needed fluids as it tries to heal. Alcohol is another no-no for the same reason, so you may want to skip those happy hours you have planned with friends or colleagues, or stick to non-alcoholic beverages.
4. Visit a virtual doctor
It can be difficult to find a local doctor while traveling, not to mention one covered by your insurance. Fortunately, getting sick when traveling in the 21st century comes with many digital conveniences, including being able to see a doctor virtually. Many health insurance providers include this benefit, which may involve texting, speaking on the phone or video chatting with a doctor, physician’s assistant or registered nurse. They may even be able to prescribe medication if necessary. If you’re traveling and need to see a doctor, check with your insurance provider and see if a virtual visit is possible.
5. Pamper yourself with hotel conveniences and luxuries
Although you’re probably yearning for your own bed at home, a hotel room isn’t the worst place to recover from an illness. Order some soup from room service, watch a movie, take a steamy shower or bath (great for clearing out your sinuses), close the blackout curtains and get a good night’s sleep under the soft, clean sheets. It’s like the world’s most luxurious sick bed.
If you’re lucky enough to be staying in a furnished apartment, you’ll feel like right at home when nursing your illness. With the added advantage of a fully equipped kitchen, you can make yourself tea, chicken noodle soup or whatever remedy your heart desires (also see our tips for easy “like home” cooked meals to make when traveling). Search Furnished Quarters’ move-in ready apartments for the utmost comfort, whether you’re sick or well.