The Unpleasant Surprise of Getting Sick While Travelling

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Riin Rehemaa
Social Media & Community Manager

We can plan as much as we want for travelling but it always comes with unexpected situations. Delayed flights, lost baggage, or picking up a virus – these are all very common parts of it.

We’re all familiar with getting sick whilst travelling to a foreign country. It’s unpleasant and very inconvenient to deal with when out of home. It’s rather easy to get rid of small illnesses, like a cough, by taking a quick visit to the doctor’s or just getting enough rest. Having a doctor that is just a chat or a call away, will surely add confidence to travel plans. Keep in mind, if you catch a cold or any other disease before your travels, please stay home and postpone your trip for the safety of others and yourself!

The importance of health has grown since the year 2020 when covid-19 was spiralling all over the world. We’ve all learned how crucial it is to stay safe when travelling or just going to crowded places. The potential threat of getting sick has always been there, even before covid, but after the pandemic, people have gotten more aware of their health and well-being.

Why are we more vulnerable to illnesses while travelling?

It’s an unfortunate thing if we get sick while travelling. The best way to tackle unknown risks is to get informed and prepared for any circumstances, even the worst-case scenarios.

So why are we more prone to get sick while travelling?

The chances of getting ill can be influenced by the transportation device. Flying in a plane, the artificial ventilation that circulates in the cabin increases the risk of infection. Bacteria and viruses reach more people in a closed space than outdoors. Also, the anxiety associated with travelling and our bodies getting tired from environmental changes weakens our immune systems, which makes us more vulnerable to certain diseases or illnesses. The reason why we also might get the vacation sniffles is that we’re surrounded by a lot of people and we never know who might be carrying a virus. If you’re visiting a country during flu season, it’s more likely that you’ll catch a disease, so make sure to check your travel dates and be cautious.


Prepare for travelling

First and foremost you must be aware of Covid-19 rules, which are different in every country. It’s recommended to be vaccinated before travelling anywhere, but this doesn’t guarantee that you won’t catch the disease.

During your travel, it’s recommended to follow these steps:

  • Wash your hands neatly with soap and water;
  • Get enough sleep;
  • Watch what you consume;
  • Stay hydrated.

It’s best to remember that public areas are covered in germs, especially on different surfaces. Don’t forget to wash or sanitize your hands, before touching your face and mouth. Germs spread quickly. You can also choose to wear a face mask in more crowded areas, so you can protect yourself even further.

It’s always helpful if you pack a medical kit with you, anywhere you go. Consider packing medications that fight the cold or some first-aid items. Some of the medicine you might find helpful while travelling are:

  • medications to reduce pain and/or fever – paracetamol and/or ibuprofen
  • expectorant/cough medicine – syrups, tablets or soluble tablets
  • decongestants to reduce the swelling in the upper airways and to reduce the risk of developing ear infections and sinusitis – for example Sudafed, Actifed or Sinupret.
  • medications for sore throat – lozenges or spray.
  • Allergy medication: antihistamines – over-the-counter in the pharmacy
  • Digestion: loperamide to be used for acute diarrhoea
  • Patches and disinfectant for minor wounds

This way you are well-prepared for any situation and don’t have to go looking for a pharmacy in a foreign country when already feeling under the weather. This way you’re always ready!

Boosting your immune system before travelling is a great idea. The easiest way to boost it is to intake certain vitamins in a certain dosage, like zinc, selenium, or vitamins C and D. Eating well, getting enough sleep, avoiding alcohol, and working out also benefit you. With a stronger immune system, your body is naturally stronger and it’s easier to adapt to new environments.

Some places can be home to foreign diseases, like malaria, typhoid, cholera, etc. So when travelling abroad, you should always be aware of them. We all know not to drink tap water in every country – in some places, water can be contaminated. If you’re not sure of the purity of the water, it’s better to stick to bottled water you can buy from grocery stores or anywhere in general. It’s not only water that can be dangerous. Some exotic foods can make us sick as well. It’s best to know the risks when eating out at food markets or other outside areas. Get to know the area you are travelling to beforehand. You can find extra information about your location and viruses to look out for on CDC’s website. Prepare ahead to know what to do in a worst-case scenario and also how to prevent attracting any viruses through vaccinations.

What to do when you get sick?

Make sure to do your research before travelling, to know what are the dangers of the place you are visiting. To be best informed, it’s a good idea to talk your trip through with your doctor and get recommendations for what to prepare, which vaccines to get and how to act when you’re facing a health problem. You can consult with Salu’s doctors who are qualified and more than happy to help you out!

Let’s say in the worst-case scenario you do contract an illness while travelling, it’s best to monitor your symptoms and rest a lot. If your condition worsens, seek medical attention immediately. Or you can always contact Salu for advice – a doctor who is always in your pocket, wherever you are!

If you didn’t get sick during your trip, it’s still recommended to rest up upon your return. Drink plenty of water and take a small break, before heading back to your everyday schedule. This way you can be sure that you have not contracted any virus and keep others and yourself safe.

We know that travelling can be stressful, but it’s also very enjoyable. It’s worth the risks that come with the unknown, so don’t let the fear of getting sick stop you from having fun experiences. Be mindful, well-prepared, and aware of your surroundings. Make sure to have an option to get medical advice when you should need it. Explore the world and stay healthy!

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