Tony recently wrote a how-to article on what to do when you become “travel sick”, which is what happens when you get sick of travelling.
But what to do when you actually get sick while travelling?
Now in all fairness, I am not a doctor. But I have been sick with bronchitis and E. coli while on our RTW trip, so I do have a few tricks up my sleeves on how to get better and back on your itchy travel feet… fast!
Here are 5 Lifesavers When Sick On The Road:
Bring Medication On The Road For Emergencies
Before starting long-term travel, you should visit a local travel clinic (such as Passport Health) or your primary care doctor and get some medication in advance to pack in your bag for your journey.
Tony and I were able to get a prescription of Cipro (Ciprofloxacin) to bring with us on our trip, which is a broad spectrum antimicrobial agent to help cure a variety of bacterial infections, such as Strep Throat, urinary infections, and E. coli.
Having these precious pills on hand in your backpack can save you the hassle of getting a prescription abroad when you’re sick.
Contact Your Travel Insurance Company Immediately Upon Becoming Sick
In order to master your sickness abroad, you need a game plan!
Depending on what medical or travel insurance you have, your provider may have a list of clinics they work with in the foreign city you are visiting. As soon as you begin feeling symptoms, contact your insurance company, let them know your condition, and see how they can further instruct you to seek proper medical attention.
When I came down with E. coli in Cusco, Peru, my insurance company, Seven Corners, emailed me a list of reputable clinics in the area that had English speaking doctors and clean facilities. It was a lifesaver to have this information readily on hand when things started going south and I needed to get to a doctor fast.
Change To Private Accommodations If Necessary
No matter what kind of illness you are dealing with, you do not want to suffer through your sickness in a noisy shared hostel room.
Not only will you find it hard to get the rest you need, but you risk getting others sick as well.
And if you have food poisoning or the stomach flu, then you DEFINITELY do not want to be sharing a bathroom with 10 other backpackers… that’s no way to make friends your hostel roommates!
Trust me, it is worth the extra penny to switch accommodations to a private room in your hostel or even upgrade to a comfy nearby hotel. This will allow you to recover privately in a much more appropriate environment.
Enlist The Help Of Others
Whether travelling solo or with a companion, let others know you are sick and ask for their help.
Tony and I have both been sick on the road and it was so nice having each other to lean on for support. What you need is your rest, so let someone else run to the store to pick you up medicine or juice.
Even if it’s someone you just met in your hostel, don’t be afraid to ask for help… If there is one thing we learned during our travels, it is that most people are inherently good and are willing (and grateful) to lend a hand!
If You Have A Stomach Bug, Follow The BRAT Diet:
When you are travelling the world, chances are you WILL get some form of stomach-related illness. Consider it an “initiation” into the lifestyle.
When I had E. colli, I couldn’t stomach the thought of eating anything for three days straight. Luckily, Tony was there to force feed me some bland foods to give my body a little sustenance and energy.
The best foods you can eat when you have the stomach bug?
Bananas, Rice, Applesauce, and Toast.
It is also recommended that you follow this diet for several days after you have recovered from your illness. Your stomach will probably be highly sensitive to rich foods immediately following your sickness, so be gentle and ease back into your normal eating habits.
When I finally got my appetite back after recovering from E. coli, for whatever reason, I was CRAVING fried chicken (something I never eat or want). I made the deadly mistake of opting for a KFC fried chicken bucket for dinner…
Needless to say, that landed me in bed for another two days. Lesson learned!
Your turn: Have you ever been sick during your travels? What tips do you have for recovering from an illness on the road? Please share in our Comments section below!