How Not to Get Sick on Vacation

Sneeze Sick On VacationYou’ve just downed some delicious enchiladas for lunch in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, and can’t wait for the rest of a fun-filled, relaxing day! Wait. You suddenly feel lightheaded and queasy. Things are about to go south.

From food poisoning to colds to motion sickness, getting sick on vacation is one of life’s horrible ironies. After cashing in your vacation time, you should return home renewed, refreshed, and feeling better than ever… but instead you're asking to cash in your sick time.

Avoid this dreaded scenario and many others with the following nine tips to not getting sick on vacation!

1. Pump Up Your Immune System

Pre-vacation, add a once-a-day multivitamin to your diet and indulge in green tea and fruit juices rich in vitamin C. Don't save up all your relaxation for your vacation… rest up now, too! A good night’s sleep is the key to a strong immune system. 

Relax Sick on Vacation

2. Minimize Stress

Vacations are a frequent cause of stress! Think about it. Packing, flying, non-stop sightseeing,  Your plate is full when you're traveling. So, don't just take a vitamin pill – take a chill pill.

Pack in advance instead of last minute, and prep for the journey as best you can. This way, you'll minimize surprises and ultimately stress. When you reach your destination, make sure to cram a lot of “relaxation” into your busy itinerary. Ideally, you should vacation for more than a couple of days, so you can do everything you want to do without rushing around. A vacation rental is an excellent budget choice for long weekends and week-long getaways.

After an exciting day of skiing, sunbathing, shopping, or sightseeing, hit the sack for at least seven hours straight. A comfy bed will make this process easy - you can find one in a comfy vacation home. Drinking coffee or alcohol right before bedtime will inhibit quality sleep, so substitute decaf tea when possible.

Set the tone for the day each morning with a yoga routine, entry in your "vacation diary," or some scenery absorbing out on your balcony. 

3. Drink to Good Health

Bottled water is your best buddy on vacation. It’s always important to stay hydrated, but this is especially true when you’re traveling. Re-circulated airplane air takes a toll on you and so do vacations, which may include sun, high elevations, and lots of activity.

Tap water, on the other hand, is your worst enemy. Drink water every day, but don't drink from the faucet! Order bottled water at restaurants. Don’t even brush your teeth with tap water! (Ice cubes are a bad idea, too.)

Even if you’re vacationing within your home country’s borders, water in a new town may affect you differently than it affects long-time residents. When in doubt, go with bottled.

Healthy Food Sick on Vacation

4. You Are What You Don’t Eat

During your flight or road trip, try not to overeat. Bring along light, healthy snacks to satisfy your appetite and make sure you’re well-rested; tired people are hungry people.

When traveling abroad, be careful what you put into your body! Raw fruits, vegetables, fish, and even dairy products should be avoided whenever possible. Also, resist the alluring aromas from street vendors and buffets, as foods found here are common culprits of vacation illness.

But what you eat is just as important as what you don’t eat. If you maintain a healthy diet throughout your trip, you'll feel better and more energized and your vacation won't be interrupted by sickness. Keep your immune system working hard for you by snacking on fruits, veggies, and nuts. With a vacation rental, you can control your diet by preparing meals in your full-sized kitchen!

Above all, listen to your tummy. New foods, and particularly new foreign foods, can do a number on your stomach. Stop eating as soon as you feel funny. Make sure you’ve always got Pepto Bismol to reach for during those upset stomach moments.

Seasick Sick on Vacation

5. Say No to Motion Sickness

You probably already know if you’re vulnerable to motion sickness. Pack nausea-reducing pills. For long road trips, sit as close to the front of the vehicle as possible, and don’t read a book or do a crossword puzzle! By keeping your eyes on the road or, better yet, driving, you’ll make it easier on your tummy and avoid that woozy feeling.

If you get seasick, don’t hide away in the house boat – stay outside and breathe in the fresh ocean air. Again, have appropriate medications on hand for when you’re nauseated. If you’ll be sea bound for a while, don’t worry. You’ll eventually develop sturdier sea legs as you adjust to life on the ocean.

6. Work Your Way Up to No Altitude Sickness

Maybe you’re fine and dandy in the car or on a boat, but you may still fall prey to altitude sickness on an airplane or in the mountains.

When in an airplane, drink lots of water, keep calm, and breathe deeply; you’ll eventually get acclimated. If you’re going on a mountain hike or ski trip, increase your altitude gradually. Once you become overwhelmed by the altitude, take a timeout, regain your composure, and continue on. If you can’t seem to get your strength or stomach back, go back down! Altitude sickness isn’t harmless and should be taken seriously. The best thing to do is hike, bike, run, climb, or ski at lower altitudes and slowly work your way up. As always, make sure you’re operating on plenty of rest and fluids.

7. Vacations Have a Dress Code, Too

Read weather reports and make sure you have the right clothes and gear for your trip. Keep in mind that the sun is almost always a major player on your vacation, whether you’re going to Miami Beach in the summer, Winter Park in the winter, or London in the fall. From tanning to skiing to sightseeing, you’ll likely be outside a lot and may even be at a high altitude (thus, close to the sun). Sun block and appropriate protection, like a hat and sunglasses, are must-haves! If you’re visiting a snowy spot, don’t be afraid to pile on the layers... after all, you don't want to catch a cold in the cold. Also, remember to wear shoes as often as possible, even when you’re at the pool… when on vacation, it’s best not to walk in other people's dirty footsteps.

Thermometer Sick on Vacation8. Doctor’s Orders!

A check up at the doctor is a good idea. Find out what diseases or illnesses you’ll be susceptible to at your chosen destination and ask your doctor for advice. Your doctor may even prescribe you emergency medications to carry with you on your travels! Finally, make sure you’re up-to-date on your immunizations.

9. Disinfect and Then Disinfect Some More

One thing that’s great about a private vacation rental is, well, privacy. But not just privacy from other people — but from other peoples’ illnesses! In an airport, airplane, hotel, resort, or big new city, you’re an easy victim for all kinds of immune system attacks. Wash your hands and disinfect yourself and your surroundings regularly! Hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes are a must.



Whether you're booking an Orlando vacation home or a Whistler ski condo, make sure to bulk up your immune system so you can really enjoy your trip!



Photos by Onken Bio-pot. and Denise Chan