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

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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  1. Do you find that your workplace is forgiving about not traveling while you’re contagious? I can’t even imagine telling my boss that I can’t fly because I have a cold.

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