6 Tips for When You Get Sick While Traveling

Battling Flu on the Plane

woman on plane

You protect yourself, wash your hands, use sanitizer, take vitamins and do all the right things but sometimes germs still find you. On a recent vacation to Anchorage, Alaska, I had the misfortune of getting sick on the day I was scheduled to fly home. At first I thought I was just really tired from all the non-stop activities and sightseeing, but as the day went on, I started feeling worse. Scratchy throat, stuffy head, runny nose, coughing….it was coming whether I wanted it or not. While I didn’t pack any cold medication I did have plenty of Band-Aids®! Hmmm, not really helpful for my current situation. Even though I was headed home to my own bed, I had a full day of flying ahead of me and needed to deal with my impending illness as best as I could. While nothing beats being healthy, there are things you can do if you find yourself feeling sick while traveling.

Get medicine
If you’re like me and didn’t pack any medication, the first thing you need to do is find meds, buy them, and take them. Some hotels have little stores that sell food, essentials, and a variety of medication. If yours doesn’t, ask where the closest drugstore is and pick something up there. If you find yourself feeling sick at the airport, luckily there are numerous newsstands and shops that sell some type of medication in a pinch.

Keeping yourself hydrated is important when you don’t feel well and even more important when stuck on a plane breathing dry air. Purchase water at the airport or bring your own bottle to fill after security check. Hot tea is usually offered on flights and can soothe a sore throat.

Your body does its best cold-fighting when you are asleep. If you are like me and able to sleep on a plane then go ahead and drift off! Not only is rest good for you, but you also will find yourself landing in no time. If you happen to be the type who can’t sleep on planes, just try your best to relax and maybe read a book or magazine. This is not the time to try to do any work. Tilt your seat back and close your eyes. You might surprise yourself and catch a nap!

Keep warm
Airplanes tend to be cold environments and cold can suppress immunity. It’s a good idea to wrap yourself in a travel blanket or sweater to help your body fight infection. Airport stores can be your resource again if you find you didn’t bring anything warm. Usually you can find small fleece blankets or sweatshirts with the city’s name. Look at it this way – you are helping yourself feel better and getting a souvenir! Ok, it’s a stretch but you’ve gotta stay positive.

Be a Good Passenger
If you are feverish, coughing, sneezing or otherwise contagious, then do everything possible to reduce the risk of exposing others to your illness, especially in the close confines of an airplane. Use disposable tissues and cover your mouth. Avoid talking to others or sharing drinks and snacks with them. Wash or sanitize your hands often. Surfaces such as tray tables, restroom sink area and faucet handles can become germ hot spots for other travelers who use the facilities after you, so practice good hand hygiene and sneezing/coughing etiquette.

Hang in there
While being sick far from home is miserable, it isn’t the end of the world. Things could be far, far worse. Don’t stress or get upset, just keep calm and warm in your new souvenir sweatshirt, drink plenty of fluids, take your medicine and get some rest. You’ll be in your bed before you know it and can be sick in the comfort of your own home.

This experience has taught me to travel with a small arsenal of cold medication along with hand sanitizer, tissues, and Band-Aids®. Maybe if I’m prepared, I won’t get sick. And if I do, I’ll be ready.

What’s in your travel bag?

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