You can only plan for so many things while traveling, but sometimes disaster sneaks up on you. No matter how strict your itinerary or full your schedule is, getting sick can throw all of your travel plans and hopes out the window.
I’m not talking about serious illness – you’re probably not going to contract life threatening malaria (at least I hope you’re preparing to prevent such things). I’m more worried about the less serious, but still potentially trip-ruining annoyances of colds, flus and stomach ailments. If you’re a frequent traveler, one of the bugs (or possibly all three) will catch up with you eventually. Since it’s winter and prime illness season, I thought I’d share some tips on avoiding and dealing with illness while you travel.
Boost Your Immune System
The first step to combatting illness is prevention. I can be paranoid sometimes, but traveling makes you easily susceptible to disease. There are long hours, exhaustion, jet lag, and higher-than-normal contact with new people and locations where you can easily pick up strange germs. Basically, if you don’t take care of yourself from the start, you’re totally asking to get sick.
Frequent hand washing is a must, as is carrying hand sanitizer. Try to get on a normal sleep schedule as soon as possible and don’t wear yourself down. Also: Vitamin C, wherever you can find it.
Hydrate to the Max
When the icky feelings start to creep in, then it’s time to increase your water consumption. Constant water drinking (and good, healthy meals) can help your body summon the strength to fight illness back. This is particularly important if your ailments are stomach related; constant digestive distress can quickly lead to dehydration.
Take the Day Off
It’s incredibly frustrating to travel to a foreign city and spend all your time in bed sneezing, sniffing and just feeling miserable. It’s tempting to push through and sightsee even when you’re feeling like a warmed over mess, but sometimes you can’t power through. Pushing will only make things worse; you need to give your body some time to rest and recover. Give yourself permission to spend a day in bed and you’ll heal faster.
Don’t Be Afraid to Seek Help
If your illness is particularly persistent or gets worse, it’s worth it to talk to a pharmacist or the hotel staff about connecting you with a doctor. Even in countries where there’s a language barrier, you should be able to convey your symptoms with a little bit of miming and guesswork.
Since you’re traveling, you may want to take advantage of local illness remedies as well. In South America, coca-tea is a common solution for altitude sickness. In China, boiled Coca-cola and ginger is a common cold cure. Ask around and you might discover a new remedy.
The bottom line is that if you get ill while traveling it can be a total bummer. However, it’s also a great reminder to take care of yourself so that you can stop being sick and get back to enjoying your trip.Google+