How To Survive Being Sick While Travelling

It’s just the worst feeling isn’t it.

You’ve spent all this time and money planning the ultimate adventure, you’ve been counting down for months until your departure date. And then all of a sudden you find yourself struck down by some kind of illness while you’re travelling.

Whether it’s a bad cold or a 24 hour type stomach bug, it’s never fun being sick while you’re meant to be living it up overseas.

We’ve definitely experienced this before on quite a few of our trips. In fact, I often find myself sick instantly when we go on holidays, just because my body starts to relax and let go of the normal tension and anxiety it feels at home when I’m always go go go.

The worst part is that you’re never willing to give your body a break and time to relax and repair itself, because you’re in a new county, you want to go out and explore!

Here are our top tips on getting through feeling sick while you’re travelling. 

greece hotel room

Pack yourself a bag of medication for your trip

No matter where we’re travelling, we always bring our own kind of first aid kit with everything we might need in a worst case scenario overseas. Often times when you’re travelling to foreign countries there’s a bit of a language barrier at the pharmacy, and you might not be able to find what you need when you find yourself unwell.

In our first aid kit we always take with us –

  • Neurofen – sub for your preferred type of pain killers
  • Anti-histamines – really good at calming down itchy mosquito bites
  • Cold and flu tablets and cough lollies
  • Gastro Stop – to stop diarrhoea
  • Laxatives – in case the issue is not being able to go to the bathroom
  • Mintec – anti-bloating IBS tablets because of my food intolerances that we sometimes can’t avoid
  • Iron tablets – I often get low iron if I’m not eating enough meat
  • A travel sized bite and sting cream
  • Waterproof band-aids

Our little first aid pouch has come in handy more times than we can count, coming to our aid for all different reasons in all different countries. Sometimes it’s just what you need to keep you going and fix you up for a little bit until your body is right again.

We always pack this little first aid bag into my carry on luggage. All of the items listed above are just over the counter medication (most you can buy from your local supermarket), however, just in case any customs officials want to see what’s in the bag and ask any questions. We have never had an issue though, no one has ever even looked twice at our little bag of meds.

banff national park

Drink plenty of water 

It sounds so basic but it’s so important for your recovery. Drinking water helps to flush out all the bad toxins and re-hydrate your body.

While you’re sick it’s important to drink as much water as you can and very little of anything else, to make sure your body has enough fluids to recover quickly.

Drinking water has been proven to help headaches, muscle pain, upset stomachs and heatstroke among other things, and keeps you hydrated throughout the day. 

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Listen to your body 

It’s important to listen to what your body is telling you in order to recover quickly. If you’re absolutely exhausted and feel like you really can’t do much of anything, spend the day (or at least a couple of hours) in bed getting some extra rest.

If you do have the energy to go out, try to choose some activities that won’t make your current condition feel worst. For example, if you have a high temperature try not to be out in the sun or the heat, making your body warmer. If you’re incredibly dizzy or light headed, maybe don’t do any activities that include heights.

If you refuse to actually stop and rest, try to choose an activity that’s much less exhausting on your body. These kinds of days are often great for a hop on hop of bus tour, when you can check out the whole city you’re visiting without moving very much at all! 

mount hotham

Go to bed a little earlier and sleep whenever you can 

Getting a good night’s sleep is always good for you, especially when you’re travelling and you might be moving a lot more than you usually do. Going to bed just a couple of hours earlier than normal while you’re sick can result in you getting better a lot faster than if you’re still trying to go out each night.

Another good option is letting yourself have little naps whenever you can. If you’re going on a day trip why not sleep on the bus. When we’ve been sick while we’re travelling we’ll often try to go out and see something in morning, then come back to our hotel room, have a little nap, and then go back out to see something else in the afternoon.

Those naps can definitely give you a little bit more energy to do something in the afternoons and evenings, so you don’t completely lose the whole day. 

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Just relax 

It feels so hypocritical to type out this dot point, because I am terrible at doing this myself, but sometimes when you’re really sick all you can do is rest.

If you’re in a relaxing location, like a tropical resort or a beach side location, take advantage of your beautiful surroundings by having more of a relaxing day, lying down and napping by the pool or the beach.

Give your body a break from moving all the time and a chance to heal itself by spending a few days relaxing and going to a slower pace. 

relaxing on holidays

If you’re not feeling better, see a doctor

If you still feel horrible after a few days and you’re not getting better you should probably go and see a doctor. Often people can avoid this when they’re travelling for fear of crazy doctors bill, but this is where your travel insurance can come in really handy in a worst case scenario.

Get your symptoms checked out by a professional, just to make sure that you don’t need antibiotics or some more serious medications to get over feeling under the weather.

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Emma is a travel writer, photographer and blogger, chasing the sun around Australia. Travelling in her recently renovated vintage Viscount caravan, along with her husband Thom and daughter Macey, she's sharing the very best experiences from around her beloved sunburnt country.

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We're travelling around Australia, exploring all the best destinations and experiences our beautiful country has to offer. We'd love to have you along for the ride!

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