Traveling while sick is a nightmare! 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”.
Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to change your travel plans at the drop of a hat. If you’re traveling for business or taking a long-anticipated family vacation, your options are limited. Canceling your travel plans could cost you big dollars.
However, you may need to weigh whether continuing to travel while sick will worsen your condition or if you can weather the storm.
7 Tips for traveling while sick
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:
This is easier said than done for the busy mom or business person. Simply said, the less you rest, the longer it’s going to take you to get better. At a minimum, you should be getting 7-8 hours as recommended by doctors. 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.
If you weren’t drinking your 8 glasses of water before, now’s the time to get it into your system. Vomiting, fever, and diarrhea cause dehydration. You can drink coconut water, Gatorade, Pedialyte as a part of your liquid intake. Clean water helps to flush your system out and keep all the necessary membranes in good working order. I own a portable glass water bottle that makes ionized alkaline water. It’s fantastic!
Over the past three years, essential oils have been a buzz term. Some people are prophets for the movement, some not so much. I can’t speak to any scientific efficacy of them. I just know what has helped me feel better. My short list includes: diffusing peppermint oil or putting ONE drop of it in warm water to help with nausea; rubbing lavender oil on the back of my ears to help me sleep, and massaging oregano oil on the bottom of my feet to help with a cold.
Vitamin C Supplements
Get yourself some Emergen-C for a healthy dose of vitamin C. An increase in vitamin C can help to boost your immune system and strengthen your defenses. I also like to use Airborne effervescent tablets if I know I have to take a flight. The daily recommended value for vitamin C tablets is 500 mg but you can easily find 1000 mg tablets in your local drug store.
These are ceramic pots that use a saltwater 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.
Saline nasal spray
WebMD suggests using it before and after the flight: “The plane air is so dry and that dries out your mucous membranes, which reduces your resistance to infection, but keeping these membranes moist with saline spray may help.”
Protect yourself from other sick people
If you’re comfortable with it, go ahead and pimp the face mask. Masks protect us from both allergens, dust, germs, and bacteria. People in other parts of the world have no qualms about it, so why should we?
My own sick travel dilemma
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.
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 then congestion starts to run its course.
That incubation period can make it hard to know what we’re dealing with or what we need to 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 a cough, red and patchy tonsils, vomiting, dizziness, palpitations, etc.) call for a visit to the doctor. It’s important to prioritize your self-care and travel sometimes makes that hard to do.
The above suggestions are also great preventative measures. Remember, consult your doctor if your body is feeling especially abnormal. Any sickness that lasts more than a few days may need professional medical attention.
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Also published on Medium.