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Traveling While Sick: A Guide on Taking Care of Yourself

Are you feeling under the weather in the middle of your vacation? Did you catch a cold from someone on the flight? Did you push through your plans despite feeling a little sick the day before? Traveling while healthy can already be a challenge in and of itself. When you are sick, however, it can be nothing short of intolerable.

Despite that, there are many things you can do to make traveling more comfortable.

Consider delaying or canceling your trip

If you’re already feeling under the weather before your trip, consider postponing or canceling altogether. But when you already have your flight booked and hotel reserved, delaying or canceling the trip can be a huge waste of money. Thus, if you have a chronic illness, it’s best to get trip cancellation/interruption insurance to cover your expenses in case you have to cancel or postpone your trip.

However, keep in mind that a doctor will have to examine you before the insurance can cover you. If you only have a mild illness like a cold or sore throat, you may not be covered by your trip cancellation/interruption insurance because you are not sick enough to cancel or delay travel. In that case, you need to push through to avoid wasting the flights, tours, and accommodations that you already paid for.

If you are receiving hospice care services, you must visit a doctor before traveling, even if you feel okay. They will tell you if you are fit to travel and what precautions you need to take before you go.

Visit a local doctor

If you are unfortunate enough to get sick in the middle of a trip, determine if the symptoms you are feeling warrant a visit to the doctor. A runny nose, mild fever, and a slight headache may not need medical attention. But if you’re throwing up uncontrollably, delirious with fever, and getting extreme stomachaches, you probably need to go to the hospital.

Don’t feel the need to visit a doctor? Move on to the next tip.

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Get as much rest as possible

You may not like this tip, especially if you’ve been looking forward to your itinerary for so long. However, pushing yourself and doing strenuous activities while being sick can make things worse and have you sitting out even more.

Instead of soldiering on despite being ill, get as much rest as you can. Sit out daytime activities and take a nap in your hotel room. Skip the night out and get a solid eight to nine hours of sleep. If possible, extend your stay by at least a day so that you can rest and continue your itinerary when you feel better.

Take meds as needed

Colds, headaches, stomachaches, allergies—all of these and more can go away with over-the-counter medications, most of which you may already have in your luggage. Take a recommended dose as soon as you start feeling symptoms. Resist the urge to take more in an attempt to speed up your ‘recovery.’ After the first dose, take more at the recommended intervals as needed.

Hydrate yourself

Staying well-hydrated is a great way to help your body fight off the illness that’s plaguing you. Drink plenty of water throughout the day; keep a reusable water bottle with you at all times if you’re going out. Avoid caffeinated beverages and alcoholic drinks in the meantime to prevent your body from losing water, and if you must drink something flavored, opt for fresh fruit juices and unsweetened tea.

Watch what you eat

Before you reach for a pint of ice cream or order tomato soup from room service, you should probably know that most of the comfort foods we eat while sick can actually make our illness worse. Foods that are acidic, high in fat, and contain lots of dairy are just some of the things that can increase inflammation and delay recovery—so if you want to get better as fast as possible, avoid these foods that can make your illness worse.

Instead, eat bland foods such as broth, plain rice, and crackers. If you’re sick, you probably won’t have much of an appetite anyway, so stick to foods that are gentle on your stomach. However, ensure that you eat enough calories to give your body the nourishment it needs to fight off your illness.

Traveling while sick can be extremely uncomfortable and can dampen the rest of your trip. However, with these tips, you can speed up your recovery and make your trip as comfortable as possible despite your illness.

Have you experienced getting sick while on vacation? Share your stories with us in the comments below.

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