Traveling when you don’t feel good

January 7, 2014 - 3 Responses

20140107-140033.jpgA work trip, especially when you’re a new business traveler, can be stressful under any circumstance. If you’re not feeling your best, it’s even worse! The anxiety about being able to perform your duties, the fatigue…. No fun at all. After traveling for work for nearly eight years, I have flown with a sinus infection, ear infection, severe allergies, a broken foot, first trimester sickness and fatigue, a reaction to a flu shot, food poisoning, and countless headaches. What I have found is that it’s important to take care of yourself so you can perform at your best, while not making yourself any more miserable than you already are.

Note: I don’t recommend flying if you are sick with something contagious like the flu. I know it can be hard to explain to your boss, but your fellow passengers would appreciate it if you didn’t get an entire plane full of people sick.

Hydrate. Drinking enough water is important all the time, but it’s even more important when you don’t feel good.

Meds. Make sure you have whatever OTC or prescription medicines you need. I pretty much always have ibuprofen and Pepto-Bismol with me, but when I had a sinus infection recently I also (on advice of my doctor) had Afrin and Mucinex. A lot of different medications are available onsite, but if you’re traveling internationally or need a prescription it may not be easy to get.

Give yourself lots of time. Don’t overschedule yourself–be cognizant of what you can accomplish and schedule accordingly. Try to give yourself a few extra minutes when going to the airport so you don’t have to move quickly.

Rest. While it may sound good in theory to take advantage of being in a new town, when you don’t feel good feel free to eat room service and go to bed early.

Be cozy. I usually don’t bring a blanket or pillow for domestic flights, but cozying up in my own soft blanket is very comforting when I’m under the weather. I also wear my softest clothes, usually dressing in layers.

Be kind to yourself. While it can be frustrating to not be in top form, there’s nothing wrong with treating yourself. Snuggle in bed and read the latest thriller. Get a cup of hot tea. Take it easy, and you’ll be back in shape in no time.

Readers, what are your tricks to flying when you’re not at your best?

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Business Travel 101: Travel When You Don’t Feel Your Best (Revisited)

November 2, 2012 - One Response

Business Travel 101 is a series from a couple of years ago about making that first business trip as easy and successful as possible. I’ve re-tooled the series, and now it’s more comprehensive than ever! It covers everything a new business traveler needs to know for that initial trip, including essential tips for packing, security, safety, etiquette, and comfort.

When you spend a large part of your life on the road, it is inevitable that some of that time you will not feel that great. Whether it’s a headache, sinus infection, allergies, pregnancy, or something else, we all have to travel when we feel bad. I have flown with allergies, a sinus infection, headaches, ear infections, cramps, a broken foot, food poisoning, a reaction to a flu shot, and of course, throughout my pregnancy. While business travel is not always fun, it is even less fun when you’re not in top form. It is important to take care of yourself during these times so that you can work as efficiently as you are able, while not making yourself more miserable than you already are.

And a caveat: if you are contagious in any way, PLEASE DO NOT FLY!! I know that your meeting/convention/training/trial/whatever is very important, but getting a plane full of people as sick as you is not the answer.

  • Hydrate. Drinking sufficient water is even more important when you don’t feel good. My pharmacist told me when I’m feeling bad to drink enough ounces of water to equal half of my body weight. So for example, if you way 150lbs, you should drink no less than 75 oz of water.
  • Emergen-C, Emergen-C, Emergen-C. If I am feeling under the weather at all, in any way, I start taking the Emergen-C. Obviously if you have issues with Vitamin C then this is not for you. But for the rest of us, it could give you what you need to feel better. As a bonus, it also gives you energy. I take it every day anyway, but I will double up when I’m feeling bad.
  • OTC/prescription meds. Make sure you have whatever medicines you need with you. I always have ibuprofen and Pepto Bismol, and when I had my ear infection I also had Afrin and the antibiotics the doctor gave me. If you forget something you can purchase many things on-location, but not everything.
  • Be comfortable. Take anything that will make your flight more comfortable. Even though I don’t usually bring a pillow on domestic flights, when I’m not feeling my best I will bring my Bucky so I can rest more comfortably. I also bring a larger pashmina than normal to use as a blanket.
  • Wear/bring comfy clothing. All clothing that you travel in should be comfortable, and that is even more important when you feel bad. My super-comfort clothing is all very soft, with usually one layer being tunic length. For some reason wearing a longer shirt or sweater makes me feel cozy and taken care of.
  • Go easy on yourself. I know that I am usually the “Get out and see the city!” girl. But when you don’t feel good, feel free to stay in your room, order room service, and watch Grey’s Anatomy.
  • Give yourself extra time. When you are moving slowly, it gives you a little peace of mind to know that you have extra time to get places.  Just ten extra minutes at the airport, leaving five minutes early for the office, can give you the time you want to move as slowly as you need to.
  • Treat yourself, just a little. If you normally drink Diet Coke but getting a real Coke will make you feel a little bit indulgent, do it. For me, getting a big cup of Earl Gray while in the cold, cold airport comforts and warms me.

Readers, how do you handle traveling while feeling bad?

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The Tale of Typhoid Mary

November 15, 2010 - One Response

In my post last week about traveling when you don’t feel good, I promised to talk about why I don’t fly or go to work when I’m sick. Here is that story.

In my first job out of college, I was working in sales for a large corporation. I was very excited to put my business degree to use, not to mention getting a real paycheck. My first two weeks at work were spent in training. The afternoon of my first day of training, I started feeling a little too warm. By that night, I had a fever around 102, along with chills and a sore throat. But I was determined to not mess up my first job, and so I drugged myself the next morning and went to work. I did not miss a single day of training, although I certainly didn’t retain a lot of what I learned that week. By the end of the week I was feeling much better, and was back to normal by the next Monday.

However, I ended up getting about half of the rest of the class sick, including the instructor. One person got so sick that she had to go to the ER to get fluids. And the instructor had to miss a day of work because he was so sick. I felt so bad! But by the time I realized what had happened the damage was already done.

I know that I am lucky, because if I were to wake up tomorrow and have the flu, I could call my corporate travel department and cancel my flights and not have any personal consequences. Not everyone that travels for work has this option. As one of the comments last week said, “The problem today with being sick is the airlines don’t care – if you choose not to board a flight, then you will pay the re-booking penalty.” It would be awesome if airlines would make allowances for illness, especially because it benefits them when you don’t get their flight crew sick. Maybe one day we will see that.

As for that instructor, I still see him at industry events occasionally. He still calls me Typhoid Mary, and still tells that story to people. So not only does he call me that, but random people who I meet that know him will say, “Oh, you’re THAT girl!” Sigh.