Coping with sickness while traveling

Sick while traveling

No traveler wants to get sick while traveling, that’s about one of the worst things to happen while you are trying to enjoy your trip. Especially if it’s that one trip you have been planning for a while now. The thing is, it happens, and it can happen to anyone, anywhere and anytime. Of course, there are ways to prevent sickness and to treat them, and there also ways to cope with it, which is the focus of this post.

Unfortunately I have been down the road of sickness while traveling before. In most of the cases I had a cold, which were manageable. But I have had a blocked nose on a diving trip – you can’t dive with a blocked nose since you cannot equalize when descending – stomach flu while spending New Year’s Eve in Madrid, and another stomach flu and dehydration in London.

I don’t know what’s worse, the fact of being sick itself, or the fact of being sick while traveling. If you have a travel partner, it helps a lot with the coping part, if you don’t, you feel unsafe and/or think you are going to die – that was my case when I was in London last November – alone. When you start thinking like that, it’s time to slow down and take care of yourself.

Whether you are having a simple cold, migraine, fever, stomach flu, diarrhea, vomiting, stomachache, ate something bad, and so on, there are some things you can do, which apply to any of these and other kind of sickness. After being through most of these cases myself – the worst ones being when I was vomiting and having diarrhea – here are my personal tips for coping with sickness while traveling:

Avoid stressing about being sick

The thing is, the more you stress out about being sick, chances are you are going to get worse. So the best thing to do is to accept that you are not ok to get out and about, and from now on do things at your own pace.

Listen to your body

When sick, you will feel your body trying to tell you that in many ways, and if you don’t listen to that, you will only feel worse. Accept that the body has a limit and you need to know yours; don’t keep forcing it.

Sick while traveling
© Pixabay

Allow yourself to get some rest

I know you would love to be fit to go out, explore the city, take some photos and enjoy a delicious meal in a cozy restaurant. Unfortunately this might not be possible depending on your sickness and body strength. Instead, what you really need to do is lie down and get some rest, and don’t feel guilty about it.

Take things slowly

If even sick you feel like you can take a walk around to check some tourist attractions, do it, but at your own pace. No need to hush or try to cover everything you had planned to visit on that day. Make stops to get some rest and drink lots of water.

Sick while traveling
A reminder at London’s underground

Know when to ask for help

Whether you are traveling with someone or alone, you or your travel partner should know when to ask for help. The first thing I do is go to the pharmacy and ask for some advice, then if I have done everything recommended and it hasn’t work, it’s time to go to the doctor. In some more serious cases you should go straight to the doctor.

Sick while traveling
© Pixabay

Focus on getting better

I know the trip hasn’t been as you planned or how you expected it to be, but now isn’t the time to feel sorry or be mad at the situation, you will have plenty of time to do that later on. It’s time to focus on getting better, after all, you can always return and you will need your health back if you still want to travel the world.

Sick while traveling
© Pixabay

Of course, there are cases, which you cannot deal with it alone and need to sick medical assistance right away. That’s reason enough to make sure you have health insurance and know whom to contact when the time comes. Also, you never know when you might need it. For example, for diving our diving trips, W and I have an annual diving insurance, which covers anything related to diving accidents.

Nothing will make you feel better with the fact of being sick while traveling, but there are some things you can do to avoid feeling worse. My worst time was when I was in London, alone, sick and very weak. At first I didn’t want to accept the fact that I was sick, eventually I had to and I’m glad I did.

Even though I wanted to be active exploring the city, I had to do a lot of compromise on my plans and itinerary because I needed to get better if I wanted to make it to the end of the trip. It wasn’t easy, but staying in bed for a while and getting hydrated certainly were very important things I did in pro of my health. So, accept that you are sick, give yourself a break and take care of your health. Soon enough you will feel better again.

Sick while traveling

How do you cope with sickness while traveling?


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Sick while traveling

About Allane

A Brazilian living in Germany. Married to W. mommy to a baby girl and a Golden Retriever. Traveler, writer, aspiring photographer, diver, wine appreciator, Formula 1 fan, avid reader of historical and young adult fictions books. City girl, nature lover, believer of a better world, one little change at a time.

  • I had a bad cold in Belgium. Luckily my boyfriend speaks French so he was able to buy me some medicine at the chemist 🙂
    The worst was when I had sunstroke in Malta! I spent an entire day in bed sipping water, unable to eat a thing!

    • Ohhh my!! That’s awful about the sunstroke.
      Lucky for you to have your boyfriend to help out in Belgium!

  • Places People Stories

    Some greats tips! I have a lot of experience being sick on travels as well and ended up in the hospital 2 times. Not fun at all 🙁

  • Gin

    I think it’s the worse… thankfully, I’ve only suffered from altitude sickness in Quito.. otherwise, I manage to stay relatively healthy

  • Ohh I remember reading you post about it Andrew, it seemed really awful!!

  • Sorry to know that Indah! Ohh help from the locals sounds great, I’ve had it too while I was last in Egypt. People there love treating health problems with herbs, I like that too as I always avoid medicine!

  • Great advice Allane. I’m so lucky, I don’t get travel sickness but hubby gets sea sick so we make sure we have motion sickness tablets!

    • Thank you dear!! Ohh good for you!
      Sea sick is one of the worse… on my last trip to Egypt I had lots of problem with that, though I never had it before… so weird that it started out of nowhere!

  • Thank you Vlad 😀
    I know, right? I also don’t like much buying medicine in a foreign country. Stomach bugs are the worse… I just feel like staying in bed the whole day 🙁

  • Oh nooo, are you serious? So sorry to know that Rachel 🙁 I hope you still got to enjoy some of your time in Paris! If not, you can always go back for a second honeymoon 😀

  • hahaha 😀