Traveling While Sick: Quick Tips for Beating the Bug

I’m going to say it: “I’m sick while on holiday” are five of the saddest words in the English language.

Traveling with a bug is awful, and more often than not, you’re forced to board your train, plane or automobile rather than forfeit your ticket. So what do you do if you’re blowing through the tissue box like it’s your job?

  1. Rest: This cannot be compromised. What your body needs now is extra sleep and less stress so that it can fight off your bug. In other words, pull up the Netflix and grab your pajamas.
  2. Hydrate: If you weren’t drinking your 8 glasses before, it’s time to hop on the water-train. Clean water helps to flush your system out and keep all the necessary membranes in good working order. Which segues into…
  3. Hot liquid diet: Organic soups, juices and teas—especially ones packed with cold-attacking spices or a boost of citrus—require less digestive effort to absorb the nutrients. Plus, warm temperatures coat the throat and keep your body warm and cozy. Add some raw honey and lemons for extra immune support!
  4. Neti pot: A neti pot is a container designed to rinse debris or mucus from your nasal cavity. I’ve used a neti pot religiously for years, especially when I feel a cold coming on. Be sure to use sterilized or distilled water only!
  5. Saline nasal spray: WebMD suggests using it before and after the flight: “The plane air is so dry and that dries out your mucus membranes, which reduces your resistance to infection, but keeping these membranes moist with saline spray may help.”
  6. Find a local pharmacy: Sometimes, the local pharmacist can be your best friend. Although laws vary from country to country, you may be able to buy meds over the counter for a faster recovery. I recently developed a whopping sinus infection a week before heading to Croatia from Spain. My local neighborhood pharmacy provided me with nasal sprays, a nasal rinse that was like a neti pot / seltzer bottle hybrid (amazing) and a three day Z-pack that had me back on my feet within two days. Hallelujah!
  7. Rock a face maskSharing is caring, except for when it comes to germs. Throw any embarrassment to the wayside and grab a face mask to help curb the rate of contagion.
  8. Deathly ill? Heaven forbid, but if you’re way too ill to truly travel, there are still a few options:
    1. Check your trip cancellation policy or trip insurance, if you opted for the extra protection. You may be able to reschedule your trip with little to no additional costs incurred.
    2. If you do have travelers insurance (we use World Nomads), they may be able to help. A rep from our company emailed me a handful of English speaking doctors who had availability to see me while I was battling said sinus infection in Spain.
    3. Get a doctor’s note. United reduces its change fee to $50 for passengers who can provide a letter from a physician. Then, you’ve got a full year in which to reschedule your flight.
    4. Call your credit card company. Some have trip insurance options built into their plans and purchases. It’s worth asking if you have any coverage from your purchase!
    5. Last resort – cancel and use your credit within the next year. It’s a bummer, but it’s better than crying silently in pain (which I have done before. Sinuses, of course).

Happy safe and healthy travels!


2 responses to “Traveling While Sick: Quick Tips for Beating the Bug

  1. Murphy’s Law! Sorry to hear that though! Hopefully some of these tips help – I’m a huge proponent of tons of water, rest when you can and a neti pot nasal rinse. Please share any tips of your end and happy travels!


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