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What to Do if You Get Sick While Traveling

What to Do if You Get Sick While Traveling

Falling ill on vacation can be a real bummer, but it doesn’t have to ruin your entire trip. Get back on your feet fast with these four recovery tips.

You’ve been planning your vacation for months and took all the necessary precautions to stay healthy while traveling, but you still got sick. Now what?

Catching a bug on vacation certainly isn’t ideal, but the way you respond to your symptoms can determine whether the sickness ruins the vacation or becomes merely a minor annoyance. Your exact course of action may vary depending on the severity of your sickness, but these universal tips can reduce the unpleasantness of a travel-related illness.

Get lots of rest

When you’re sick, take a breather. Don’t force yourself to go sightseeing or worry that the trip will be a failure if you have to miss some spots on the itinerary. For minor illnesses, one full day of rest may be enough to rejuvenate your body. If you’re very sick, you might need to rest for longer. This way, you can fully enjoy the remainder of the trip, whereas soldiering ahead will likely keep you uncomfortable for the entire vacation—and you might even make yourself sicker. If necessary, use ear plugs to sleep as soundly as possible.

Stay hydrated

Drink plenty of water, especially if you are vomiting, have diarrhea, or have a fever, because those conditions lead to dehydration. It goes without saying to make sure your water is clean, particularly in regions of the world where water quality is a concern—bottled water is your safest bet. Hydrating is also important if you’re traveling on an airplane while sick, because flying is very dehydrating.

Consider seeing a doctor

If your illness or injury is severe, visit a local doctor. You might be reluctant to seek medical help, especially if there is a language barrier, but it’s generally safer to err on the side of seeking treatment. The front desk of your hotel can usually provide a list of nearby doctors and medical facilities. Some will even come directly to your hotel room so you don’t have to go outside. The Centers for Disease Control recommends seeking medical care without delay if you are suffering from diarrhea accompanied by a fever above 102 degrees, any flu-like condition while in a malaria risk area, or any sort of accident involving serious injury.

Inform others

If you purchased travel insurance before leaving on your trip, call the provider to alert them about your situation and ask for their recommendations about how to proceed (some types of care may not be covered by your insurance). And if you’re traveling alone, tell loved ones back home that you’re sick or getting treatment, so they will know to keep checking up on you.

Remember to always pack emergencies medications that you may need from home

Scott Shetler is a freelance journalist and frequent traveler who enjoys national parks, urban nightlife, and everything in between. He blogs about his adventures at

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