How to avoid getting sick during a business trip

a blue box with yellow textIs it even possible to avoid illness if you travel a lot for work? Reader K asks…

Help! Everyone around me is coughing and sneezing, and I have to leave for a three week trial next week. It’s hard enough to avoid getting the cold or flu when I’m at home. How can I avoid getting sick on a business trip when I need to be at my best? We won’t be sleeping, we’ll be eating terrible food late at night…. It’s going to be a disaster right?

This time of year illness is everywhere. In my house we’ve had allergies, ear infections, stomach bugs, colds, and random fevers–just in the last two months. People on the road a lot know that one of the perils of frequent business travel is getting sick. But don’t worry! There are ways ways to help avoid getting sick.


Flu shot. While not perfect protection, getting a flu shot can reduce the risk of catching the flu significantly. Not to mention, if you do catch it then it’s often less severe than otherwise.

Stay hydrated. Keeping your fluid intake is so important in the winter. All of the dry air just sucks the moisture right out of you! I make an effort to increase my water intake during travel, especially on travel days. It’s also important to keep your nasal passage moist. One easy way to do this is gently breathe in steam from a hot cup of tea. When I’m feeling especially dry I will use a saline nose spray.

Wash your hands, a lot. I can’t emphasize this enough! Wash your hands with soap and water at every opportunity. This is especially critical when flying or riding the train. I’m not a huge fan of hand sanitizer but it’s a practical option when you’re on the go. Also, I’m not trying to sound super paranoid but it’s not a terrible idea to use disinfecting wipes (such as these) on your seatback tray and armrest.

Keep your immune system up. For the past couple of years I’ve made an effort to more consistently take a multivitamin, and when I’m traveling I add an extra dose of vitamin C (Emergen-C should do the trick). A friend of mine also likes Airborne although I’ve never tried it.  And as you already know, doing your best to eat well and  get good quality sleep (as we’ve recently talked about) help A TON.

Wear a mask. If you’re starting to feel run down, protect yourself and those around you by wearing a mask. They’re not super comfortable but will protect from all kinds of airborne illnesses.

Keep medicines on hand

While I never recommend traveling while sick with something contagious (like the flu) there are unfortunately some non-contagious things that business travelers just have to power through. There are several medications I keep on hand to deal with these issues. Here is a quick list of what I take with me on every trip in the winter:

See this post for tips on what to do if, despite your best efforts,  you end up getting sick on a business trip.

Readers, what do you do to avoid getting sick during a business trip?


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  1. Olive Leaf Extract – tastes absolutely horrible (the liquid may be more tolerable than the capsules) is a mainstay. Also Elderberry extract, zinc, extra multi vitamins, and fresh juices, hot tea, veggies and chicken soup. If starting to feel anything in the throat, or sniffles, etc… add in extra elderberry, something like Boiron Cold Calm, and even more hot teas and chicken soup (or trendy bone broth) and/or get something to loosen mucus that contains Guaifenesin (and Dextromethorphan if coughing) as well as some Tylenol.

  2. I found that going to a salt cave with halotherapy to be very effective, I go before and after my flights. Been great for my sinuses and asthma!

  3. Awesome tips! Thanks!
    I think the most important part is to keep hydrated and walk a little bit every two or three hours…

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