Sick on the Road? It Happens!

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Sick on the road

Being sick is not fun no matter how you look at it. Sometimes we are in a more favorable position to fight with the cold than other times. The comfort of home, snuggled in the blankets, sipping warm tea or soup is definitely one of the best ways to go about the common cold we catch every once in a while.

However, it seems like,  sometimes we are not so lucky, and then we have to deal with it on the go. We travel for fun, we hope you too, and it is definitely not fun to travel sick. Knowing when it could happen could undoubtedly help, but unfortunately, there is no such mechanism. Thankfully, there are some remedies that we can try to shorten the cold and make the most out of our so long awaited and thoroughly planned journey.

Travel & Health

I have to say that I’m lucky. I have been pretty healthy lately, and most of my travels for work or for pleasure have been very successful. But there were few times when I had to travel sick, or I got sick on the road. It was definitely something I didn’t plan for on my itinerary.

Airplane Cabin

Different elements or conditions can worsen your health while traveling. Flying, especially, puts your body to a real test- high speed traveling at 36 000 feet above the ground. Additionally, you are locked in a capsule with approximately 300 other passengers all exchanging germs for 6-7 or even 11 hours on longer routes. There is research showing that there is about a 100 times higher chance of catching a cold during flight than if you sit on your porch sipping margaritas.

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Stay Hydrated

Dehydration is always a game-changing factor when it comes to sicknesses. It is believed that the body loses about 1.5l of water during a short 3h flight. Even more, the moisture-free plane cabin can create the perfect environment for respiratory infections since they thrive in conditions of low humidity. Aviation authorities tell us that the full volume of air inside the cabin is being refreshed every 2 to 3 minutes, but still, it takes only a sneeze from your next seat buddy to get you coughing for the rest of your so well planned trip.

While there is not much that we can do about the cabin pressure and moisture or the passenger’s health condition next to you, there is a lot you can do about your personal health.

Hydrate always, to prevent sickness

Self Treatment


The best self-treatment for any illness is dedication. Okay, we get sick on the road, accept it, we cant control. Above all, it is in your hands to shorten it. I won’t let the common cold prevent me from thoroughly enjoying the journey I so eagerly planned, will you? Here, dedication kicks in. It is one of the most potent tools in our little human arsenal to help us deal with whatever the world throws at us.

People say “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade” Are you dedicated enough to make your “lemonade” and put an end to the “sick on the road” situation? Or perhaps, you will just stay in your hotel room for 3 days while your friends are enjoying the beautiful scenery around. I was faced with that dilemma once on my way to Iceland. 

How it All Started

Back to Utah

Before heading to Iceland, I was in Utah for 5 days of US National Dancesport Championships. If you have been in Utah, you know that it is really dry. And when I say really dry, I mean it is so dry that the skin on your hands is splitting if you don’t hydrate (and of course I didn’t). Long days at the ballroom, inadequate hydration and nutrition helped the germs get to me. Fever, muscle aches and sore throat combined with the moisture deprived air, seemed nastier than ever before. On the Sunday before flying out, we had a plan to go skiing, but none of us was able to. We were all sick, so we canceled and got home.

I was going to make it

My flight to Iceland was 9h after I got home from Utah. Needless to say that I was exhausted and even more sick. The fever has gotten worse, and now headaches were an enemy too. I had planned this trip with a lot of love and interest in the wonders that Iceland has to offer. I wanted to see them all, so the thought of canceling the trip and staying home never even crossed my mind. No way! Let’s kick the cold in the butt. I was about to travel sick to the beautiful island country, and I was ready to embrace it.


So that was it! I was on board Icelandair flight to Reykjavik and dedicated that in a day or so, I will be much better and fully ready to enjoy our packed itinerary. I was traveling with my friends Etsuko and Lisa who were genuinely caring and were even willing to stay at the Airbnb and rest until I feel better to continue with the trip. Little did they know, I am quite stubborn, so that was not an option.

Up in the Air

On Board IcelandAir

My mission “get better fast” started on the flight. On the airplane, getting better was an overstatement, but preventing from getting worse was all I needed. The first thing I did before getting to the airport is stopping by Bartell’s and getting a face mask. Yes, the white one that surgeons wear. It is funny looking, but It is said that it prevents 99% of the bacteria from entering your body. So, I thought by stopping the bacteria coming to my body, I can already reverse the sickness and start to get better.

Sick on the road. Airplane cabin, prevention of sickness

I made sure I stayed well hydrated and was moving a lot during the flight which was actually quite pleasant. I tried to eat “healthy.” I had prepared a nice meal with rice, chicken, and vegetables. My friend Etsuko gave me a pre-made miso soup, just added water and drank it. I took some Zinc and Vitamin C to boost my immune system as well as some Tylenol to help with the fever. By the end of the flight, I was feeling just a little bit better. What I was happy about is that I wasn’t feeling worse.


Visiting the BLUE LAGOON with high fever

We arrived in the morning, so we picked up our rental car and started with our “exploration.” Perhaps, the most famous Icelandic site is the Blue Lagoon. The fascinating hot springs become a spa attraction for thousands of tourists every day. It was first on our list since it is close to the airport. Relaxing in the warm blue hot spring waters sounded like an idea after a 7-hour flight from Seattle. Let me tell you, not when you are sick!

Of course, I didn’t want to miss on the experience and jumped right in. But when it was -2 C outside even the hot water is not making you feel better especially because you have to walk outside into the springs and then step back in. Needless to say, I felt worse once we got to the Airbnb that night. My friend Etsuko made me some noodle soup, something to warm me up but I knew this is not going to be enough, so I drove to the drugstore and got some Tylenol cold and sinus hot drinks. Took them every 2 hours and on the next morning my throat was feeling a little bit better, but my head and muscle aches were still not gone.

Sick but determined! Next stop Seljalandsfoss and Skogafoss.

Sick on the road. Harsh weather in Iceland
The weather in Reykjavik was warm for what you would expect Mid- March in Iceland. It was about 4 degrees and sunny. We continued with our itinerary on Iceland’s Ring Road.

Next Stop was the famous Seljalandsfoss and Skogafoss nearby. I had a smile on the inside, but my body was weak. Тhe weather changed dramatically once we got out of the capital. Driving on the icy winter roads with a cup of tea next to me was a bit of a challenge. Strong side winds were pushing the car right and left. Magnificent mountain ranges were our only view for the miles ahead. Even though the drive was just under 2h, it was not easy considering how I was feeling but I was determined to discover and enjoy all beautiful places this country has to offer.
Seljalandfoss Iceland
I told you It was worth it!

Read more about the Wonders of Iceland here.

Once at the waterfalls, I actually forgot that I was sick, even though the weather was not really smiling at us. It was rainy, cold and miserable but it was BEAUTIFUL! It was all worthy. We got back into the car, and we were headed now to the town of Vik and the Black Sand Beach. Our accommodation for the night was just across the highway from the Black sand beach. It was quite easy for me to just go to bed and rest but no. I was not going to let the flu affect my mood and prevent me from seeing some of the most stunning views.

Black Sand Beach, Iceland

Ear infection. No problem. Head to Jokulsarlon, the famous glacier lagoon.

To travel sick is not fun. The night before I was just starting to feel better. Fever, headache and sore throat were almost gone. But my sinuses… They had to become friends with my ears and cause an ear infection. Now I felt my right ear was cloaked and I couldn’t hear very well. But I was still able to see, so we continued with our itinerary, and our next stop was the famous glacier lagoon Jokulsarlon. We flew the drone and got some fantastic footage. 

Definitely, a place you need to visit if you are going to Iceland. I did not feel sick at all the whole time we were there. The only time I was feeling ill was when driving from one place to another. The adrenaline was gone and needed a new boost. I was like an adventure junkie. Every next place made me feel better.

Jokulsarlon Lagoon, Iceland
Sick on the Road.
It was already sunset when we arrived at our hotel in the town of Hofn. Even though I was “playing” sick on the road role all day, I wanted to go out for dinner. Hofn is a small village on the coast with some excellent seafood restaurants. We had some delicious clam chowder soup and sauteed prawns. This was a great ending of the day, and it was time to get the much-needed sleep to recover from the sickness. Right before getting to bed I run a quick assessment of my condition only to find out that I can now hear as usual and seemed like my ear infection was almost gone. What a relief!
Sick on the Road.
Seafood Restaurant Hofn Iceland

Light in the Tunnel

Day 4! Travel sick no more!

Waking up to the feeling of being fully recovered from all unpleasant cold symptoms was only the first highlight of our 4th day of adventures in Iceland. It was a beautiful morning but our itinerary for the day including Svartifoss and Kerid Crater Lake was even more exciting.

Iceland Kerid Crater Lake

Why am I telling you this story guys? I want to give you an example of how sometimes a situation can be challenging.

To travel sick was not part of my itinerary but it happened. There are just some things that we cannot predict. So what do we do? Stay in the hotel and wait for it to pass?

Perhaps, if you really can’t get out of the bed. But if you just need a little bit of inspiration to push through it, just remember your trip planning. Build a mental picture of all the beautiful places you wanted to visit and just GO. Do it! It must be the last time you are visiting this place. You’d rather spend it in bed? NO WAY! I was so happy that I pushed through this hardship and was able to enjoy the remaining 4 days thoroughly without missing a single waypoint from our itinerary.

Have you guys ever been sick on the road? How did you manage to deal with it? Did you sleep all day or explored the World like a champ?

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Hi there! I’m Atanas — I’ve been traveling around the world since I was 15, so about 12 years, but just recently got into writing. My mission is to inspire more people to take on the journey of their lives and spread the word that traveling the world can be easy, fun and not cost a fortune!

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