No one likes traveling while sick. It’s stressful, uncomfortable, and can often make you feel worse than you actually are since you are in a foreign environment, sometimes not being able to bunker down unaware in order to nurse yourself back to health.
What can you do as a sick traveler? Step one is to avoid increasing the chance that you could become even more ill. Many of the best things to do with an illness on the road are the same things you would do to avoid getting that illness in the first place. If you’re worried about coming down with something before even heading out, start being mindful about your health a few weeks before the trip even begins.
Here are some practical tips to get started:
Wipe stuff down.
Buy a package of baby or antibacterial wipes and clean any surface you make contact with, especially anything you will be eating food off of. Don’t trust restaurant tables, airline tray tables, or park benches to be sanitary. Also take extra precautionary measures just to be safe.
Consider your diet.
When you travel, you’re going to eat out a lot, which means that you might not be consuming the healthiest options, especially if you are trying to travel on a budget. If possible, bring a cooler and buy groceries for breakfast or lunch. This will help you eat a more regular diet and also save money, which you can put towards other activities while on the road. If not, think carefully about what you are ordering. Opt for items like vegetables, fruit, and protein.
If you are somewhere where tainted food is a concern, don’t eat anything raw, cold, or unpeeled. If you get diarrhea, or any other digestive problems, cut down to the BRAT diet (Bananas, Rice, Applesauce, and Toast) or whatever the local equivalent of more simplistic food is.
Visit the pharmacy.
To prevent sickness, take supplements such as Vitamin C or Zinc. To avoid getting sick from tainted food, eat a Pepto-Bismol (or the generic equivalent) before every meal, and eat yogurt to avoid diarrhea. Pack Tylenol, Dramamine, and a cold suppressant such as Sudafed. It is best to have these things on hand beforehand, as getting them on vacation can be a hassle, especially if abroad. However, if you didn’t pack ahead of time, bear in mind that Europeans may be more familiar with Paracetamol than Tylenol, and Sudafed is not sold everywhere, due to the meth crisis.
Rest as frequently as possible.
If you fall ill, the best thing to do is rest. Cut nonessential activities out of your itinerary and sleep and drink as much as possible. If you want an activity that won’t require so much exertion, go see a movie or a show. It can be a fun way to spend an afternoon, especially if that movie or show is in a foreign language or can help you immerse yourself in the foreign culture.