Getting sick is the worst thing ever…
…especially after you just forked over some serious dough for your trip overseas.
Some people mistakenly think getting sick is inevitable when flying, but that’s simply not the case.
If you take a few simple precautions, you can enjoy your vaca by exploring the local sites instead of being stuck in bed or staring at the bottom of a toilet bowl (unless you’re sick from partying, but that’s a whole different article).
Look, were not suggesting you take it to the extreme and wear one of those awkward face masks while walking around the city.
But there are a few travel tips we’ve learned over the years that have helped keep us healthy when we travel.
And the best part is these tips are so easy that anyone can implement them – from the rookie travelers to the million-miler pros.
So let’s check ‘em out.
Forgo The Airline Pillow & Blanket
Don’t even think about using the airline provided pillow and blanket.
Airlines treat passengers like cattle – get ‘em on and get ‘em off.
Remember how much they hate you?
And in between flights, flight attendants are scrambling to make the cabin (somewhat) presentable for the next group of passengers.
Do you really think they wash those pillows and blankets between flights?
I wouldn’t bet on it.
So the last thing you want to do is snuggle up with a dirty blanket and nestle your head against a pillow that’s covered in salvia (and who knows what else) from the previous passenger.
But we get it, you’re cold and you want to be comfortable.
So consider bringing your own neck pillow (especially the kind that deflates into a tiny pocket-sized bag) and your own foldable travel blanket.
These simple items won’t take up much space and can slide right into your backpack or briefcase.
And to my fellow travelin’ ladies, let’s be honest — we are always cold.
I personally travel with a simple black shawl I wear as part of my outfit (works as a versatile piece that is lightweight and not bulky and I can wear multiple times), which also helps prevent me from checking a bag (which you should never do by the way).
When I’m on the plane, I simply unwrap my shawl and use it as a blanket.
This simple travel hack is easy to do (and stylish).
Just Take The Vitamin C
Whether you love or hate vitamins, it’s critical you load up on Vitamin C and other essential immune boosting supplements to make sure your immune system is strong and ready for flight.
If you’re super hardcore and health conscious, consider adding other supplements like zinc, magnesium and elderberry.
And don’t wait till travel day to start taking them – if you don’t already have these as part of your routine, start taking them at least a few days (ideally a week) before you travel – and continue taking them while you’re overseas and at least for another week after you get home.
Remember, the key to avoid getting sick is having a strong immune system.
Traveling naturally wears on the immune system – from the TSA groping you to canceled or changed flights – you probably fought a battle before you even got on the plane.
We get it, traveling can be stressful.
And the stress doesn’t stop once you’re settled in your seat.
For the next few hours, you’re crammed into a tiny space with no fresh air, all while inhaling the same recycled germs as everyone else.
And let’s be real – some people still haven’t mastered the art of coughing or sneezing into their arm
But by having a boosted immune system before and during your trip, you can hopefully avoid catching an airborne sickness.
Pro-tip: Don’t forget to get your gut ready to sample the delicious foreign foods by adding a good probiotic to your routine.
Sanitize And Hydrate
Again, airlines have a short amount of time to clear passengers out before new ones arrive.
And the last thing they care about is making your space sanitary.
Pack some hand-sanitizing wipes or spray and disinfect all hard surfaces like your tray, seat arms, and entertainment buttons.
No need to be obnoxious about it, but it’s a smart thing to do for that extra protection.
In addition, since your hands have been touching stuff all around the airport, from escalator rails to train rails and everything in between, don’t forget to sanitize your hands.
And since you’re forced to sit in dry air, make sure you stay hydrated on the plane and drink plenty of water.
I personally buy bottled water before I board the plane so I have my own bottle.
Bonus Tips For Third World Countries
If you are traveling to a third world country, you have an entirely different battle to face when it comes to dining.
Most likely your stomach isn’t used to the bacteria prevalent in foreign countries, which is why so many people get sick when they try foreign delicacies.
If they wash the cooking utensils (yes “if”), it’s most likely in a local source of water – whether a barrel in the backyard or a stream.
Let’s just say the sanitary standards aren’t what we’re accustomed to here in the good ol’ U.S. of A.
And shopping or consuming food can be a challenge – as you can bet the food isn’t stored at “food-safe temperatures” either.
But one of the best parts of international travel is sampling the grub, so don’t be scared off!
The key is not to avoid eating out completely, but to be smart about it.
I recently spent a month in El Salvador and didn’t get sick once – and I ate a lot of Salvadorian dishes.
However, there are some things you DO want to avoid if you’re traveling to a third world country.
You don’t want to consume any “cold products” that you can’t peel the skin off – think lettuce, apples, tomatoes, etc.
You don’t know where or how they were grown, who touched them, and what penetrated through the soft skin.
If you’re craving veggies, stick to cooked dishes where the food has been heated to a high enough temperature to kill the bacteria.
And absolutely no ice. Ever.
Yes, that includes smoothies, frozen coffees, and fountain drinks.
With that in mind, make sure you are drinking bottled water only AND you actually confirm the bottle is still sealed when you receive it.
Some shady folks have caught on to the idea Americans drink bottled water – so they’ll just fill up empty bottles with the local water – and then sell it to gullible travelers.
Now you know!
I’d also recommend brushing your teeth with bottled water
And avoid the street food, at least for the first few weeks. If you’re on a longer trip, you can slowly test out a few recommended places to see how your stomach reacts, but take it easy as the last thing you want to do is be out of commission on your trip because you’re sick.
Just in case – make sure you have meds with you should your stomach become irritated.
Finally, when eating in a restaurant, avoid the communal dishes that stay on the table.
I had the chance to sample pupusas in El Salvador, that are supposed to be eaten with curtido (cabbage relish) and salsa…
… but the curtido and salsa sits on the table all day long with a communal spoon.
And each diner sits down and dips their hands into the same communal dish that remains ready for the next guest.
Would you want to eat something that has had 50-60 different hands in the same container?
Yep, me neither.
I passed on the curtido and salsa without a second thought.
Don’t Be Paranoid
The most important thing to remember is to have fun!
Germs are everywhere. You aren’t going to avoid them.
And you can do all of these things we’ve mentioned and still possibly get sick.
But by utilizing these simple tips, you are seriously lessoning the odds of catching a bug.
So don’t freak out and be a germaphobe, just be smart and mindful.
And remember, you can still enjoy great food (cooked) while traveling, just skip the communal stuff… it’s just not worth the risk.
Are you one that typically gets sick while traveling? Which of these travel tips are you going to try on your next vacation?
Tell us your thoughts in the comments below!