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Traveling While Sick: 7 Tips to Help You Feel Better

Who in their right mind would want to willingly board a plane under the duress of nausea, fatigue, shivers, and an upset stomach? I’m going to take a wild guess and say “no one”. However, if you’re scheduled for travel either for business or a family vacation, you have very little options before you except to cancel your plans or pony up and travel sick.

Flying while sick is pure misery. (Photo courtesy of Getty Images)

Last weekend I had the pleasure of catching a “bug”. At the time, I didn’t realize my sickness would be short-lived, so I prepared myself for the worst. The last thing on my mind was traveling while sick. All I knew was that I had a flight in 4 days, I needed to get better quickly, or find a “band-aid” to help me make it through the flight.

INCUBATION

Most of the times, it takes a good 24 hours to realize what’s really going on with our bodies when we fall sick. Fevers love to peak in that first day, aches begin their run, and  congestion starts it course. Thus, it’s hard to really know what we’re dealing with or what  we should do to get better.

Luckily, my ailment (nausea, fatigue, headache, upset stomach) only lasted 24 hours. By the next day I was at 90%, weak but mostly recuperated. In my situation, there was no need for anything more than rest and detoxification. Prolonged and more severe symptoms (persistent high fever or cough, red and patchy tonsils, vomiting, dizziness, palpitations, etc.) call for a visit to the doctor.

Netipots (photo courtesy of the netipot.net)

TIPS

So what quick and simple action can you take if you’re traveling while sick and have very few cancellation options? I’m not a doctor, but here are a few things that helped me, some of which WebMD also suggests:

  1. Rest: This is easier said then done for the busy mom or the preoccupied business person but it’s necessary. If your body is tired, it doesn’t have the basic mechanism to help fight and fix what’s wrong with you. Unfortunately, you can’t compromise on this. The more rest you get, the stronger you’ll be.
  2. Hydration: If you weren’t drinking your 8 glasses before, now’s the time to get that aqua into your system. Clean water helps to flush your system out and keep all the necessary membranes in good working order.
  3. Fasting: This is a no-brainer (and usually non-negotiable) if you have a stomach bug or virus. Drinking only water, green tea, and fruit juices (assuming you can keep it in ya), help to flush the toxins out your system and detoxify you.
  4. Vitamin C Supplements: An increase in Vitamin C may help to boost your immune system and strengthen your defenses.
  5. Neti pot: These are ceramic pots that use a salt water solution to flush out your nasal passages, clearing it of pollen and possibly viruses. I use a neti pot religiously during allergy season and it provides amazing relief.
  6. 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.”
  7. If you’re comfortable with it, go ahead and break out the face mask. People in other parts of the world have no qualms about it, so why should we.These suggestions are also great preventative measures, as well, for avoiding sicknesses from flying. Again, be smart and consult your doctor if things seem really abnormal and you’re not making a turnaround in 6 or 7 days.

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  • Phyllis Tumpkin

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  • worldtravelmom

    Richard, I couldn’t help but crack up at your comment because you’re obviously pissed off from your recent trip. And it’s a shame that you had to sit next to a “hacking, coughing, ASS.” However, we can’t control getting sick – Lord knows we all wish we could and changing travel plans on the fly isn’t always feasible. People need to get to work, duty, family, wherever. If the airlines didn’t charge folks their first born to make travel changes, maybe some people would delay their journeys. And then maybe some won’t. In situations like these, where you had to be exposed to a sickly passenger, the ideal thing would have been to either quarantine him (that’ll never happen) or the flight attendants could supply him with a face mask. Hey, that’s a thought. But hopefully my suggestions will help people who don’t have a choice when they get sick while traveling.

  • Richard

    If you are sick, dont travel. I consider it rude and vile human behaviour to expose countless hundreds to your ailment. If you are sick, STAY HOME. I have no sympathy for sick travelers and consider them rude.
    Just last nigh I had the pleasure of being seated next to a sick traveler. He coughed and snorted what I calculate to be about a gallon of snot during the hour long flight. He hacked and coughed every 15 seconds. There was no peace for anybody near him. When I asked why he was traveling he said he was traveling to watch the bowl game with his buddies. What an ASS.

  • K Miller

    I have had the pleasure of traveling while sick and it was not fun. I think we forget to pack certain items to help us through a sick spell should one arise. I can see some much needed additions to my packing list including vitamin C and nasal spray.

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