It really sucks being sick but it’s even worse being ill when you’re away from home. Unfortunately, it’s happened to me multiple times and all over the world. The good news is that I learned some valuable tips along the way that I can now pass on to you! Here’s how to prevent getting sick on the road and what to do if you do. Disclosure: I’m a sponsored Pepto-Bismol Influencer, but all opinions are my own.
Pack a first aid kit
I highly recommend carrying a mini first aid kit in your carry-on. That way, if you get sick on the plane, you won’t have to wait until you land to get your medicine. In my bag I always have: a thermometer, an over-the-counter pain reliever, nose drops, decongestants, allergy pills, antibiotics, an inhaler (I used to have asthma) and Pepto-Bismol (will help you recover from “the 5 symptoms”: nausea, heartburn, indigestion, upset stomach and diarrhea). You can get most of this on the road but why wait? If you have an upset stomach or God forbid, traveler’s diarrhea, you’ll be glad to have these on hand for instant relief. And if you feel a cold coming on, you’ll be grateful you packed all this stuff before you left home so you don’t have to search for a nearby drugstore.
The first thing I do when I get sick on the road is clear my schedule so I can rest and not infect other people.
See a doctor
If I’m really sick, I will ask my hotel to arrange for a doctor. All you need to do is call the front desk and inquire, or make plans to see one back home. The last time I was sick, I emailed my doctor from the road. Some doctors will even Skype with you.
Drink lots of liquid
I’m not a doctor but I know that when you’re sick you should drink lots of liquids to stay hydrated … and I’m not talking about alcohol or caffeine. When you travel, you should drink even more. I drink gallons of water when I’m sick on the road. I also carry a packet of vitamin C powder that I can pour into a bottle and shake or mix in a glass of water to give my immune system a boost.
Change your plane ticket
I know it can be expensive to change a plane ticket but some airlines are more compassionate than others. I recommend calling and explaining your situation to an agent. If they don’t give you any love, then politely hang up and call again and see if another agent will help. If that doesn’t work, you could try going to the airport and speaking to an agent (preferably with a supervisor) in person, since they usually have more pull. I know it’s a pain but some airports might not be that far. Or better yet, book with an airline that doesn’t charge a cancellation fee or one that charges cheaper fees than other major carriers.
Wear a surgical mask
If you’re sick on the plane, wear a surgical mask so you don’t infect other people. If you have ever been to Japan, then you’ve seen countless people wearing these masks. It’s not because they’re afraid to get sick; it’s because they’re sick and don’t want to get you sick. I’m trying to bring this tradition to America! Who cares if people think you look like a freak? As you can see from the photo above, I wear a mask when I’m sick and I carry an extra one in my bag just in case my seatmate is sick and coughs without covering their mouth.
Get travel insurance
Before leaving for your trip, I recommend checking to see if your health insurance covers you during your travels, especially if you’re traveling internationally. If not, buy travel insurance. It’s not expensive and provides great peace of mind.
Get emergency medical evacuation
Make sure your insurance plan covers emergency medical evacuation. If it doesn’t then look into getting a separate plan from companies that specialize in this; they can get you home or to the hospital of your choice in an air ambulance if you’re in really bad shape. The membership fee is a fraction of what the transportation would cost.
Use antibacterial wipes
To avoid getting sick, wash your hands frequently and make a conscious effort not to touch your face or mouth, eyes and nose. Also, wipe down plane seats, car rentals, hotel rooms or ATM keypads with antibacterial wipes to remove all kinds of germs.
Get a flu shot
I also think every frequent traveler should get a flu shot to either prevent or minimize sickness. Here are some places to get a flu shot.
I hope you find this advice helpful. Let me know what works for you or if I missed anything, and here’s to happy, healthy and safe travels!
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Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided by any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.