How to: Traveling while Sick

Traveling can be exciting, but it can also be a challenge if you get sick hours before departure. It is even more likely to happen if it’s a holiday weekend. Experts from the University of Michigan are here to advice on how to prevent getting sick before a trip and avoid spreading pathogens if you are already feeling unwell.

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How to avoid getting sick before a trip

According to a University of Michigan health expert James Riddell, among the precautions you can take before setting out on a journey are the following:

  • Reduce stress. Stress hormones are capable of undermining your immune system, which means it will have difficulty fighting off infections. Stress is not the only thing which can harm your immune system: even anxiety can have the same effect. Be it struggling to get the air ticket you need or wrapping things up, stress can be a major risk factor for spoiling your trip.
  • Mind your hygiene. Even the antibacterial soap ban is not the reason to stop washing hands – it is part and parcel of hygiene, and whenever you have an opportunity to wash your hands, do it. Do not touch your face to prevent germs from getting into your body (at least some part of their local population!). When using public transport (be it going to work days before the trip or taking a bus to get to the airport), try to find a seat other than that which is close to a passenger who coughs or shows other obvious symptoms of sickness. Elevator buttons, bus doors and other things which thousands of people touch every day are home to tons of germs, and the fewer pathogens you collect on your way home, the better. If there is no opportunity to wash your hands, you can opt for a good hand sanitizer.
  • Follow a healthy diet. The nutrients provided by food are your allies and can help you fight off infections too. Keep in mind that balancing your diet is a much better option that taking lots of multivitamins, because excess vitamins can have adverse effects and aggravate the situation. Veggies, fruits, whole grains and nuts – the so-called Mediterranean diet can help you support your immune system.
  • Get a good night’s sleep. Starting from the day you get your ticket, make sure your sleep hygiene is appropriate: your usual 7-hour sleep is a must, especially if there is a trip awaiting you.

Actually, all these rules are applicable to any period of your life, regardless of whether you’re going for a trip or not. These can help you boost your defenses and try to avoid getting sick. Now let’s take a look at what experts suggest doing in cases when you failed to remain healthy and have to go anyway.

How to travel if you are sick

  • Reduce germ footprint. While traveling, do your best not to leave germ traces: use your own towels, cups and other personal items, try to find a separate seat, avoid handshaking, kissing or hugging – greeting someone can be done with words only. If you have to spend a night in a hotel or a friend’s house, ask for a separate room.
  • If you have already been prescribed some drugs, don’t forget to take them with you.
  • Wear clothes that will not let you feel cold. Take a hot drink in a thermos to have something to warm up.
  • If you are traveling to another city or country, take the medical documentation you have: should something happen while away from home, it will be easier for the local doctor to find an appropriate treatment if she or he knows what drugs you have been taking and what medical history you have. Don’t hesitate to visit the emergency room available in the place you are traveling to if you feel that the symptoms are getting worse.

If such an option is possible, avoid traveling while sick. Stay in bed for a couple of days to let your body get rid of the infection, and it will be much more fascinating to travel afterwards!


Sick While Traveling? Here’s What to Do (and How to Prevent It) – The University of Michigan materials
Think About Your Health Status – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
The Perils Of Traveling While Sick – CNN Travel materials

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