How to Avoid Getting Sick While Travelling

Posted By

Ravi Goel


Hydrate like there’s no tomorrow: Most major domestic airlines don’t charge for those mini bottles of water. When the flight attendant comes around, politely ask for two. Hot, antioxidant-rich tea is a fine idea as well. If you’re a nervous flyer like me, that beneficial H2O-guzzling mixed with a hummingbird-like metabolism means lots of trips to the WC, so consider booking a seat on the aisle for easy in-and-out access (and to avoid sitting next to the window area that folks have breathed/sneezed all over). Besides, getting up for a stretch and a tinkle when the fasten seat belt sign is off will improve circulation. And on the topic of air-travel related jitters, look into ways to naturally soothe them since the more wound-up/stressed-out you are, the more likely you are to get sick due to a weakened immune system.

Be Prepared: I try and am prepared for illness and travel with suitable medicines based on my Doctor’s advice. I visit my Doctor before I leave and get a prescription for a generic Antibiotic medicine. Something that I can take to help my body battles an infection should I be unlucky enough to fall ill. I also travel with a range of medications including pain killers and nausea medicines. Consult with your Doctor for their recommendations on suitable medications that you can use when you are travelling.

Pay attention to public health and travel advisories: Pay attention to public health and travel advisories. Certain places in the world do not have drinking water that is as clean as ours. Do some research about your destination before you go. Find out whether you should avoid the water, or any other food or drink, and you will minimize your risk of catching a stomach virus. Believe me that will ruin your vacation in a hurry. It may be that a travel advisory will be in effect for the country you are traveling to. Find out what the disease is and how to avoid it, whether it means avoiding certain regions or entire countries.


Be diligent about hand washing: Washing hands (or using a 60 to 70% alcohol hand sanitizer) several times a day will kill germs acquired from contaminated surfaces like doorknobs, especially in highly populated areas like cruise ships. Before booking a cruise, check out the Vessel Sanitation Program at for cleanliness reports for major cruise lines. On the plane, bring along hand sanitizers and antibacterial wipes for your hands, tray tables and arm rests, which can be teeming with germs. Gross fact: 60% of airplane food trays carry MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) bacteria.

Don’t skimp on your sleep: This is important before, during, and after the trip. Of course, you might have a late night here or there (you are on vacation after all), but make sure you keep getting a healthy 7-9hours per night. I know it can be difficult to sleep well while away from home, but you can always take some natural sleep supplements with you and try to make your sleeping area as comfortable as possible. For me, that means a quiet, dark room with a glass of water by the bed.

Keep healthy snacks around: While on vacation, it’s normal to try local foods that aren’t exactly considered healthy (last night my sister enthusiastically made one of her favorite deep fried recipes), and that’s OK. However, if you eat unhealthy your whole trip, you will lose energy and increase your chances of getting sick. The best thing to do is bring some healthy snacks with you and/or buy some when you arrive. I don’t travel without some sort of nut mix and I almost always buy fruits, Greek yogurt (if a fridge is available), and protein bars. This gives my immunity a boost and keeps me less tempted to eat something unhealthy on the go when hunger creeps up.

Bring your own pillow or blanket: Although some airlines like JetBlue and American Airlines sell pillows and blankets instead of reusing them, I highly recommend going the BYOP route to avoid snuggling up with something that some guy on the flight from Denver used as a Kleenex. If you don’t bring your own blanket and/or pillow and your flight (most likely an international one) doles them out free-of-charge, make sure that it’s wrapped in plastic, ensuring that it’s either new or has been washed.

Catching Bugs: The default reaction for most people stepping onto an escalator at an airport is to immediately put their hand on the hand rail. My advice is that unless you specifically require the use of the rail for balance avoid placing your hand on the rail. These hand rails are one of the most common ways germs are transmitted from person to person. All you need to do is touch a hand rail then touch your face and you can pick up a bug or virus. The same applies to everything from buttons in lifts to door handles and airport luggage carts.

Written by Ravi Goel