Traveling when you don’t feel good

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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  1. I also travel with hand sanitizer and an extra clear plastic bag. I put the tv remote from the hotel room into the bag and press the buttons through the bag. That way, I never have to touch the remote, which is among the dirtiest things in the room and a likely culprit to causing illness.

  2. The cost implications of not turning up for a flight are probably a major determinant of why people travel sick. This winter I have been surrounded by sneaezing passengers.

  3. Inform the gate attendant that you are not feeling well but that you are not contagious, and ask to pre-board. Then also give this information to the flight attendants. This happened to me JFK-SFO. The flight attendants were very helpful (lots of offers of beverages, blanket, etc.), and really help make me as comfortable as possible.

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