How to Avoid Getting Sick While Traveling

There are several things we can all do to lessen the risk of falling sick while traveling. And though some of these preventative measures seem obvious, many people ignore them, or don’t take the correct steps to ensure they’re doing all they can to dodge illness.


First, we need to get enough sleep. The average adult requires seven to nine hours of sleep to regenerate the immune system. Sleep helps to build better defenses against incoming colds, viruses and bacterial invasions.

Don’t sleep well in hotels or on red-eye flights? Don’t worry; there are current studies showing that it is possible to catch up on sleep.

For example, if you go to sleep late one night but get some extra sleep the next night, your immune system will be back on track fighting incoming viruses and bacteria.


When we travel, we tend to get off of our healthy eating routine. Make sure to have a snack, such as an apple and peanut butter, before traveling, or bring a light bite to eat with you.

Try to incorporate superfoods like blueberries, oranges, broccoli and sweet potatoes. These will all help give you all the necessary vitamins and minerals.

Spatial Awareness

Even with a healthy lifestyle, we all get sick from time to time. When we are away from home, it can be inconvenient or scary not knowing where to go for help.

Viruses tend to spread when we gather in large groups. If one person has an upper respiratory infection or a cold, cough or sore throat, and they sneeze or cough directly on you, chances are you will get a cold.

How can you avoid this?

Respiratory droplets can travel up to 12 inches in the air, so try to keep a healthy distance between you and others. Additionally, wash your hands frequently, especially after shaking hands.

How to Not Get Sick on Airplanes

This topic brings us to the obvious question that every patient asks me: “How do we avoid getting sick on airplanes?”

Airlines do their best to clean the planes and keep the air fresh. Unfortunately, this is not enough. When people have an infection and sneeze and cough, the respiratory droplets circulate and recirculate around the plane. Fortunately, our immune system fights most of the viruses we see, but if there is a virus that is new to your body, and you are trapped in a plane, odds are you will get a cold three to five days later.

Consult your doctor:

If you’re traveling to a remote destination (including the Caribbean), make sure to carry on all of your medication. If your checked luggage is lost or delayed, there might be no pharmacies available to quickly refill your meds.

Talk to your doctor about packing a carry-on travel kit. I always advise my patients, based on their specific needs (medical conditions, children, allergies, etc.), on what they should bring in their travel kit. For example, if you tend to have travel bowel issues, speak with your doctor about OTC meds to bring along.

What about your adult immunizations? Are they up to date? Do you remember when your last tetanus shot was in case you have an injury? These are all good questions to discuss with your doctor and your children’s doctor before a trip.

People ask me all the time: “What about the doctors that come to your hotel room?” “Are they better than a local office?” The answer depends on where you are vacationing. If you’re in sunny Florida, a local doctors’ office or medical clinic is a good choice. If you are outside of the USA and unsure of the level of local medical care, the doctors who come to the hotels might be a better choice.

Helpful Tools for Saving on Healthcare While Traveling

If you’re in a remote location far from home, and you see a doctor who prescribes medication, how do you know where to fill the prescription?

Use RetailMeNot Rx Saver’s lookup tool , put in your current ZIP code and locate the least-expensive pharmacy in your current area.

It is also a good idea to check with your health insurance provider when traveling abroad about your coverage, and what to do in an emergency.  

The key to staying safe and healthy when traveling is to be prepared. Eat well, sleep well and bring along anything that you and your doctor think you might need. Also, be prepared for the unexpected by checking for medical care in the area before you need it.

Traveling is stressful and everyone is at risk of getting sick when traveling, so being prepared is your best defense!

Ben Kruger