Travel when you’re not feeling well

a pink packet of anti-inflammatory medicineTravel when you’re not feeling well is no fun! But is it possible to make it manageable? Reader J asks….

I’ve had allergies for the last few weeks that have unfortunately turned into a sinus infection. I have to travel this week to a conference and I know I will be miserable. Any tips for making it less awful? 

Ugh, that is no fun at all. I have been there. I’ve flown with food poisoning, sinus infections, ear infections (that was pretty awful), migraines, and a reaction from the flu shot, not to mention a broken foot. 

Traveling when you’re not feeling good is unfortunately one of those things that happens when you take frequent work trips. I recommend avoiding travel if you’re contagious (if at all possible). If you’re not contagious, but still not feeling so hot, here are some ways to make it more manageable (if still not exactly fun):

  • Get to the doctor. If there’s time, go to your doctor before you leave. If you have something (like a sinus infection) that can be fixed with antibiotics you definitely want to have those on hand!
  • Use OTC meds. I always keep a pretty sizeable list of OTC meds with me when I travel in case something comes up. I can’t tell you how many times simple ibuprofen has saved a work trip for me. **Note: If you’re traveling internationally make sure none of the medicines you pack are illegal in the country you’re visiting. Also, it’s highly recommended you keep everything in its original packaging.
  • Get lots of rest. Build rest times into your schedule. If you can skip the happy hour or customer dinners so that you’re at your sharpest during work hours then do so. If not, go for the minimum length of time then get to your hotel and bed. 
  • Drink a ton of water. When you feel crummy it’s common to not feel like eating or drinking much. Make sure you drink a lot of water–probably more than you think you need. Traveling dries us out anyway, and allergies, headaches, or other illnesses can be made way worse if you’re dehydrated. 

For some suggestions for what to do if you do actually get sick on a trip, as well as the full list of all medicine I keep with me, check out this post.

Readers, have you had to travel when you’re not feeling well? How did you manage it?


Be sure to check out my page with products I recommend for travel!

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  1. With reference to OTC meds, you should be in contact with a medical doctor. Sudafed and similar drugs can have effects similar to epinephrine. It might dry out passages but also raise heart rate and pressure.
    I can not know laws all over but I can recommend caution. I carried loose sudafed from Canada to the USA years ago. The first customs agent (in Canada) took great interest in the pills and brought his manager. The manager asked me how I felt, laughed and scolded his colleague for making an issue of a common cold remedy.
    For complex reasons, Sudafed original is now OTC but requires ID.

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