What to Do If You’re Traveling While Sick

Photograph of a passport, luggage tag, and tissue on top of a suitcase. What to do if You're Traveling While Sick | Frolic & Courage

I can’t believe this happened to me. As great as a travel planner I think I’ve become spending time planning for every possible scenario, there’s no way I could’ve planned to get sick, let alone travel while sick, two days before my first trip to London. Ready or not, I was going to have the first-hand experience of traveling while sick overseas.

Three days before my trip I was in perfect health, although the weather was questionable. There was a terrible thunderstorm that dropped a massive amount of rain in my hometown. Weather analysts reported September was the wettest month to date with no end in sight after hurricane Florence hit the Carolinas. At 2am my phone shrieked, alerting me that a heavy thunderstorm threatened to flood the area. Great. I cut off the alert and fell back asleep just as bright flashes of lightening flickered outside my window.

Shortly thereafter I woke up again, this time drenched in sweat, just in time to hear the electricity pop on. Apparently the thunderstorm caused a power outage and my body overheated underneath the sheets. Perfect. Once the air kicked back on again it blew full blast and I happily returned to bed. A hot sweat plus cold air blasting on me is, my friends, how I got sick and why I was traveling while sick.

The next day, the day before my trip, my eyes watered, my throat was slightly sore, and I had a runny nose. I felt tired but it wasn’t anything crazy. “It will go away,” I told myself. I went to work, worked out, and kept about my merry business.

The day of I felt a little worse, but not impossible. After work Hun picked me up and we drove to the airport. When we reached security my throat felt worse than before so I purchased cough drops with the hope that the sore throat would leave. I couldn’t sleep on the plane but after our seven-hour flight I was officially a hot mess.

There’s no way I could’ve planned to get sick, let alone travel while sick, two days before my first trip to London.

Internally I emitted feelings of frustration, anger, excitement, and fatigue. Externally, I emitted snot and a dry, harsh cough. I mean, who pays all this money, spends months of planning, books tours, and then gets sick? Seriously?! I’m in a new land ripe with adventure and all I could think of is retreating to the hotel and going to sleep for the next four days! To make matters worse, the weather in London tricked us. Weather reports boasted a partly cloudy, 75°F forecast for the week with one day of rain before we left. When we arrived, and for the rest of our trip, it was cold, windy, and rainy. Fabulous! How was this whole exploring a new city and traveling while sick going to work, exactly?

By God’s grace, I was given a plan of action. Each morning I made sure to chug a bottle of fresh juice, compliments of the free in-room minibar. The vitamin C was necessary to help boost my immune system and fight the bad germs inside me. I avoided medication (except for cough drops) because I didn’t want to feel groggy, so the natural method was the best way for me to be present while scoping out the sites. After the morning chug I usually coughed up/snorted out phlegm (gross, right?) until there was nothing left. Then I would wash my hands, put on layers of warm clothes, and set out for the day with a bottle of water and tissues (also compliments of the hotel) in hand.

When lunch and dinner rolled around I tried to choose healthy options- a salad, fruit bowl, veggies, protein- along with more water with lemon or a purée of freshly squeezed fruit juice. Finally, at the end of the day we returned to the hotel where I disrobed and took a nice, long, hot shower. Let me say this shower was the almost the best part of the day, lol. This made traveling while sick bearable! The steam opened up my clogged nostrils while the soft drops of water massaged my back. Ultimately, thirty minutes of hot showery-goodness led to a peaceful night’s rest in the darkness provided by the hotel’s black-out shades.

The London trip was my first vacation where I had to travel while sick, but by God’s grace I made it! If you have the unfortunate experience of being sick while traveling, hopefully these quick tips will help you power through:

  1. Do not panic. You can still have a wonderful vacation despite the circumstances.
  2. Take hot showers.
  3. Pack tissue.
  4. Book a hotel with black-out shades and free toiletries – you’ll need the extra tissues and rest.
  5. Drink tons of liquid- water, juice, and tea, and don’t forget to add lemon.
  6. Wear warm clothes. Changes in temperature might flare your symptoms and/or make you uncomfortable.
  7. Eat healthy. Try to avoid the temptation to gorge on greasy, fatty foods and opt for clean eating (fruits, vegetables, beans, and lean protein) instead.
  8. Seek medical help if things get worse. Some travel insurance plans cover medical expenses abroad, so don’t skimp on trip protection!

What other tips do you have for traveling while sick? Share your remedies in the comments below!


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