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


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.

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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.

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