5 Tips for What to Do If You Get Sick on Vacation

Posted by Rachel Klein on December 09, 2009 at 10:54:16 AM EST | Post a Comment

Getting a cold or the flu is bad enough, but when it strikes less than 24 hours before getting on the plane—or worse, while you're flying—panicking won't speed up your recovery. Rather than succumbing to a sneezy fate, take immediate action by following these top five tips en route.

1. Check all your bags. Keep yourself free of things to haul and save energy by checking whatever bags you planned to carry on. If there's a fee to do so, it might be worth paying. You'll buy yourself the luxury of having one less thing to keep track of when your head is stuffed and you're likely to forget things.

2. Don't be afraid to let the flight attendant know. Even if you're not coming down with the plague, quietly speaking up in a non-whiny, matter of fact manner may make your journey just a little bit better—even in economy—and could result in some kind attention thrown your way. Getting moved to a roomier seat (an aisle with an empty middle, for example), or extra snacks, pillows, and blankets are just a few small things that can add up to a more comfortable trip. Plus, on the slim chance that you do suddenly become very ill and need assistance or medical attention when you land, the crew will already have a heads up.

3. Get to a pharmacy fast. If struck pre-flight, load up on your remedies of choice at the airport, especially when traveling internationally. Don't forget to purchase liquids in travel-sized bottles of 3 ounces or less and factor in maximum allowances if you're dead set against checking your luggage. If you start to feel unwell on the flight, inquire about where to purchase items at the airport when you arrive, or call your hotel's concierge to locate a pharmacy close by when you land.

4. Drink, drink, and drink some more. And we don't mean alcohol. The dry, recycled air on the plane is always dehydrating so if you're sick it's even more important to load up on liquids. Rather than refilling your cup several times, ask if it's possible to get a full bottle of water after drink service ends. There are usually plenty leftover on board.

5. Cut yourself a break. Consider loosening up your first day's itinerary or factor in time to rest at your hotel rather than forging ahead. Determine whether you're well enough to keep reservations as far in advance as possible to avoid cancellation fees.

Posted in Travel Tips

Member Comments (5)  Post a Comment

  • MrsJWH on Dec 30, 09 at 05:01 PM

    I recently discovered Alka Seltzer Plus Cold and Cough. I was able to fly on a red eye and photograph a wedding the next day like a normal human being by taking it every 4 hours. (plus on the flight I didn't feel like my ears were going to explode.) Only downside is, it really dries you up, so drink LOTS of water. On the spreading your sickness note: carry your own small hand sanitizer bottle and a travel pack of tissue (not just for your nose but also to cough into- then dispose of it in a ziplock); use both liberally.

  • dcorey on Dec 10, 09 at 08:41 PM

    People should not travel if ill with something that is contagious, period! A mask is a great idea if one is coughing and airlines should insist on it. I had to sit next to a very ill individual who coughed the entire flight and had no clue how to correctly cover her mouth. I now carry my own masks to use when I get stuck next to that kind of person.

  • mprovenza on Dec 10, 09 at 08:33 PM

    how about a mask?

  • JStone on Dec 10, 09 at 10:40 AM

    A better option is to avoid flying if you are sick prior to boarding. A good travel insurance plan such as a Worldwide Trip Protector will allow you to cancel or delay your trip and receive trip cost reimbursement to fly another time. Isn't that better than having a miserable time and potentially making fellow passengers sick in the process?

  • carolofla on Dec 10, 09 at 10:01 AM

    Seems to me if you feel sick, you need your small carry on with the nostrums you might need, the extra sweate, etc. I take an empty plastic bottle and fill it before I get on or ask the flight attendent to fill it. My 'airplane jacket' has a hood to ward off the overhead A/C that cannot be regulated on most American Airlines planes...and maybe others too. I have thin hair and I can get a cold just from sitting under that A/C on a long trip.