What to Do When You Get Sick While Traveling

When people list their favorite pastimes, traveling often comes out at the top. Whether you are young, old, male or female traveling alone or with a group of friends, it is an activity you probably enjoy. Unfortunately, while traveling can be fun, you can sometimes run into burdensome issues. One of the common ones is falling ill during your travel and dealing with the illness. So, what are you supposed to do if you get sick while traveling, and are there ways to prepare? Well, that is what we are here to explore.

man on bed feeling ill Proper travel preparation

There is hardly a traveling guide out there that won’t emphasize the importance of preparation. Whether you are going on a short holiday or plan on going on a year-long journey, proper preparation is essential. And, as it turns out, this goes double when it comes to dealing with illness. As a responsible traveler, you need to prepare appropriately for your journey and ensure that you have the necessary emergency supplies.

The first thing that we would recommend is that you research your destination. You should know the local emergency numbers, acquire proper health insurance and do a basic checkup before traveling.

signing insurance papers
You should never travel without proper health insurance.


What to pack

A basic medical kit is one of the things that you shouldn’t travel without. Among the essential items that you will practically always pack are:

  • Analgesic (pain relief) medicine such as paracetamol or aspirin.
  • Cold and flu tablets.
  • Cough medicine.
  • Motion sickness tablets.
  • Throat lozenges or drops.
  • Blister and wound patches, such as sticking plasters.
  • Medical adhesive tape, e.g., Micropore.
  • Safety pins, scissors, and tweezers.
  • Insect repellent containing DEET (diethyltoluamide).
  • Antacid for indigestion.
  • Antifungal or antibacterial cream.
  • Low potency hydrocortisone cream.
  • Sunscreen (at least SPF 30+).
  • Thermometer (a forehead thermometer is best for travel as it doesn’t break or run out of batteries).
  • Health insurance card.

Apart from these, you may need to carry prescription medicine (along with the prescription list). If you take regular therapy, make sure that you bring extra medicine in case your journey unexpectedly prolongs.

Medicine that you might need if you get sick while traveling.
Make sure to check which medicine you are allowed to bring, as different countries have different regulations.

A good way to pack is to have a separate bag exclusively for medications. That way, you won’t have to go through your luggage every time you need to take something. Luckily, good medicine bags are easy to get nowadays, which is why we strongly advise you to invest in one.

Now, let’s go over a few typical situations that can occur.

If you feel a bit under the weather

Even though travel is often fun, it can be quite exhausting. Putting miles behind you sure does put considerable stress on your body, as well as your nervous system. As a result, you might feel a bit under the weather. The right thing to do them is to hydrate and rest. If your body is not feeling well, give it a break. A quick rest will boost your immune system and help you stay healthy for the rest of the journey. Supplements like vitamin C, D, or magnesium help you recharge and get the energy you need. As much as possible, you should avoid caffeine and sugar in these situations, as they are the last thing that your body needs.

Persistent health issues

Unfortunately, a good night’s sleep may not be enough to cure you. Sometimes, health issues that need proper attention and care come up. If this happens, you need to come to terms with your situation. Individual travelers sometimes choose to ignore their illness, hoping that it won’t cause significant trouble. But, the truth is that you put yourself in considerable harm as untreated issues can quickly develop and cause dangerous complications.

Finding decent lodging

Your priority in this situation should be to find decent lodging. Know that communal lodging is not suitable (and you probably won’t be admitted for safety reasons). You need a clean room with active service that you can reach 24/7. If you are carrying too many items, storage is worth considering, as you want to avoid spending time in a cluttered room where you may have to spend more time. So start looking for lodging as soon as possible.

Once you have found a place to stay, you must consult a medical professional. You can either call your standard physician and ask for their advice. Or, you can seek a medical examination and help from local doctors. If you have proper insurance, both the examination and the help should be completely free. Once you get your consultation, make sure to stick to the prescribed therapy. Ideally, it will be something you can take a simple medicine and sleep away.

A girl holding a tissue while laying in bed.
Give yourself time to heal once you get sick while traveling.

Ensure that you have a timeframe for when the medicine should start working and when you should start worrying. If there are further complications, or the current therapy is not working, don’t shy away from visiting the local doctor. Even if your hometown physician is top-notch, they can only do so much over the phone. If you are unwell, call the local service and have them send you an ambulance. Know that your health is paramount and that you need to ask for it before getting too sick.

When to resume travel

Only when you are completely cured is it recommendable to travel. Too many people make the mistake of resuming their travel once they start feeling better. This is a bad idea, as the added stress of travel can quickly bring back the symptoms. So, do yourself a favor and don’t rush.

What to eat if you get sick while traveling

A sick person needs light, simple foods to heal. Your local service will be quite valuable in this situation as they can recommend local cuisine to suit your needs. Avoid foreign spices, dishes, or foods. They can easily irritate your stomach and cause further issues. Instead, stick with simple (if you will, bland) vegetables and soups to regain your strength. Also, hydration is a must. Sugar, junk food, alcohol, raw meat, spicy food, and fried delicacies are all off the table if you get sick while traveling. Leave those for when you are well.

Author bio:

Calvin Holloway has been a keen traveler and a professional hiker for over 15 years. He currently enjoys exploring the Switzerland wilderness and writing helpful articles about hiking and traveling.





Author agrees to defend, indemnify and hold harmless AAACK! Packs and its licensee and licensors, and their employees, contractors, agents, officers, and directors, from and against any and all claims, damages, obligations, losses, liabilities, costs or debt, and expenses (including but not limited to attorney’s fees), resulting from or arising out of  the use of any of the recommendations in this article.