How to Travel While Sick

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Traveling through foreign countries, eating strange foods, spending countless hours on buses and planes and pushing your body to the limit can often take its toll, so it’s no surprise that most travelers will get sick at some point during their trip.

Getting sick while you’re traveling is one of the worst things imaginable. I can remember being stuck for two days in a dingy hostel room in Kuala Lumpur with no windows and only cockroaches for company because of traveler’s diarrhea.

So what can you do to prevent this from ever happening, and what should you do if you do fall sick while traveling?

Apart from the obvious things (like drinking lots of water and making sure you get plenty of rest), there are a few expert tips that I’ve picked up along the way:

Travelers diarrheaDon’t Push Yourself Too Hard – It can be tempting to think “I’m traveling in an amazing foreign country, therefore I must not waste this opportunity just because I am ill”. Thinking this way is a bad idea, and pushing yourself is only going to make your illness worse.

Let Your Travel Companions Know – Some people might not want to let the other people they’re traveling with know about their impending illness because they don’t want to spoil the trip or because they don’t want everyone to feel sorry for them.

This is a bad idea, as it’s important to let others know you’re ill so they can take care of you if necessary (especially if your condition worsens and you need to be taken to hospital).

Stay Within Close Range of a Bathroom – While this isn’t always possible, it should be attempted at all times when you’re sick on the road. If you’re traveling on a long train journey, for instance, make sure you know where the toilet is in case of emergency.

Bring Toilet Paper (or Tissues) Wherever You Go – Carrying a roll of toilet paper or a few packets of tissues is an essential for any sick traveler. Even if there’s a toilet nearby, you can’t rely on them to have toilet paper so don’t take the risk.

Avoid Bumpy Transportation – Whenever possible (when you’re feeling sick), avoid riding on trains, buses, boats and anything else that bumps up and down. What should you do instead? If you do need to travel, the best thing to do is to try and change your journey to a slightly later date (when you’ll hopefully be feeling better).

Don’t Expect Much Sympathy From Your Travel Companions – This might come as something of a surprise, but a lot of the time it’s true.

Getting sick when you’re traveling can potentially ruin your trip, so it’s natural that others will want to avoid you (to avoid catching whatever you’ve got) and they won’t want your sickness to ruin their experiences, so don’t expect them to stay in with you instead of going out partying at night.

Don’t Beat Yourself Up – Don’t get angry at yourself for getting sick while you’re traveling. It’s not your fault and you shouldn’t blame yourself.

No-matter how careful you are about what you do, eat or drink you can still get sick – that’s just how it goes. Just accept it as a part of traveling and focus on getting better.

While these tips will help you to survive your trip if you do fall sick, for advice on avoiding sickness in the first place check out this article on healthy travel.

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