It is a cruel fact that we often get sick when travelling – planes and trains are full of germs, our immune systems are weakened by fatigue and stress, and food and drink can make us ill. Being unwell while away from home is even worse if you are working. But, as much as you want to curl up in your own bed, you still have a job to do. Here are some tips for how to manage illness when on the road.
When you are travelling, you have to sleep whenever and wherever you can. Prioritise it. Rest is essential to recovery, and also making sure you can get everything done. Pack an eye mask, ear plugs and, if you need, talk to your doctor or pharmacist about sleep aids. Take every chance you can to take a nap. Even if you only have 10 minutes, put down your phone and close your eyes.
You know when you are sick you need to drink more fluids than usual. To make sure you stay as hydrated as possible, carry a large drink bottle with you everywhere. You should try to avoid coffee and alcohol, which will dehydrate you more, so swap these out for hot water with a squeeze of fresh lemon for some Vitamin C. Herbal teas are also a great option – pack a few individual satchels into your suitcase so you have your favourites on hand – peppermint is good for tummy troubles, and ginger has anti-inflammatory properties.
You know that being on the road is going to be stressful on your body and your mind, but running yourself down will just make you feel worse, and your recovery slower. While you can’t avoid this, you can do your best to manage it. Make time for some gentle stretches and meditation – you can download apps to guide you.
Eating nutritious food while on the road is always a struggle – you are stressed, time-poor, and probably have no access to a kitchen. If you get sick, stick to a diet of lean protein, whole grains and fruit and vegetables, limiting junk foods as much as possible. Stock up on supplies that will last a few days, like raw nuts and easily transportable fruit, like bananas. If you have to eat on the go (and you probably will), add fresh juices and Greek yogurt to your order. Keep an eye out for the age-old cure-all of chicken soup. If you’re not feeling well enough to eat, try easy to digest foods: the BRAT diet (Bananas, Rice, Applesauce, Toast) is a handy guide.
At the first sign of a cold or flu, pop a few vitamins to support your immune system. Make sure you pack Zinc, Echinacea, Vitamin C and Vitamin D. You can also get a little extra help from super nutrient-dense foods like garlic, ginger, blueberries, citrus fruit, oily fish and pumpkin seeds. If you can find Manuka Honey, add a heaped spoonful to your hot water and lemon you’ll get a burst of antibacterial power.
Use what you’ve got
When you get sick away from home, get creative. There are some everyday items you can use to help ease your pain. A hot shower can make you feel much better – turn the fan off and breathe in the steam to clear your blocked nose, relieve a sore chest and relax sore muscles. A warm wash cloth laid over your face can help with sinus pain. Also, keep those little sachets of salt and dissolve them in warm water as a gargle to soothe a sore throat.
Written by Kate Robertson