Too Sick to Travel? What Are Your Options?

VirusWouldn’t it be nice if there were some sort of vaccine you could take that could prevent you from getting sick before you have to travel for business or personal reasons? A simple shot that ensured you could go abroad in comfort, and return that way on the trip home too.


Sadly, this kind of magic panacea doesn’t exist, but there are some things you can do to prevent having to travel while ill, and to protect yourself if sickness does occur.


What to Do Before You Travel 


Being sick while you travel is something you can attempt to prevent or prepare for before you even pack your luggage.

  • Make an appointment with your physician. Let the doctor know where you plan to go and for how long. Not only can the physician vaccinate you against any of the common ailments of the region, but they may offer advice on avoiding illness while you’re there.
  • Consider a flu shot. If you’ve had a flu shot in the past and it hasn’t made you ill, consider getting a flu shot before your trip.
  • Take care of yourself. It’s easy to slack off on your eating habits before a vacation, but part of avoiding sickness is having a healthy immune system. That means eating healthy, exercising, taking vitamins and getting enough sleep during the weeks before you leave.
  • Secure travel insurance. On his website,, travel expert Rick Steves recommends that travellers secure a trip cancellation insurance policy that reimburses them should they have to cancel a trip in the event of illness. Policies also generally offer trip interruption coverage to allow you to return home early without additional cost, should you or another covered family member become sick after leaving the States. If you have a preexisting condition (a medical condition that you have received treatment for before traveling) you’ll want to find out whether your trip cancellation insurance policy excludes them so that you can act accordingly.

 What to Do During Travel


Not only can you be forced to travel to your destination while sick, you could also become sick while travelling and have to return home that way. In order to help reduce the likelihood that you’ll get sick on vacation, try these steps:

  • Treat your body right. Just as we mentioned above, the easiest way to help yourself get sick is to ignore your health. Make sure you drink plenty of water while abroad, eat healthy and get enough sleep.
  • Drink bottled water only. suggests that travellers avoid drinking any tap water abroad, including from water fountains.
  • Eat right. recommends that travelers be careful what they eat and drink, including avoiding any raw fruits and vegetables such as those found in salads. Instead, eat only cooked fruits and veg or fruits that must be peeled. They also advise travelers to avoid unpasteurized milk and soft cheeses.
  • Monitor outbreaks. According to, more than 50 percent of those travelling to developing countries will become ill on their trip. To help you avoid becoming a statistic, the site advises that travelers pay attention to the Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) travel section and monitor information about outbreaks occurring in your destination.

Evaluating Whether to Travel


There are some illnesses that may make travel uncomfortable, but most healthy individuals can withstand this discomfort. Other illnesses or symptoms, however, should stop you in your tracks.  The CDC has a list of symptoms and factors that may make you reconsider whether to travel. These include:

  • Combinations of symptoms. If you have a high fever combined with a severe cough, confusion, skin rash or diarrhea, you may want to consult a physician and get clearance to travel.
  • Chest pain. Chest pain can be a symptom of a cardiac event that requires immediate attention.
  • You’ve been diagnosed with an infectious disease. Germs spread easily on a plane and it may be unfair or even dangerous for you to expose other passengers to certain illnesses.

You only have a limited ability to protect yourself from becoming ill before or during a trip abroad, but you have a definitive way to protect your wallet from the expense of a cancelled or interrupted trip. To use it, make sure to secure the right insurance policy as soon as you know you’re traveling.



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