Sick while Traveling Alone

Sick, sick, sick!! (Photo: Traci Lawson @Flickr)

Sick, sick, sick!! (Photo: Traci Lawson @Flickr)

On account that I have been sick for the past few days, I thought that it was quite appropriate to put this up. And well, because I am a bit tired from coughing my lungs out so this is to distract me from being cranky and doped up with medicine.

I have been pretty fortunate in the sense that I have not been seriously sick when overseas. I have had the occasional cold, flu and coughs during winter travels, fever, food poisoning and even the time when I fractured my middle finger just 5 days before my trip.

Okay, now it does seem like a lot but like I mention, it was not really life threatening. I’ve been fortunate to be able to self-medicate until I return home to have a proper rest. I’ve been sick alone and while travelling with friends but it feels worse when you are sick, alone on foreign lands and feeling miserable.

So what do you do when you do fall sick when travelling alone?

1. Ensure you bring along medicine when you travel.

Since you can only depend on yourself, having ready supplies mean that we can take care of ourselves when we fall sick.

I make sure I have sufficient supply of cold medicine especially if I’m travelling during winter. I usually fall sick then due to the change in weather since I’m more used to hot weather. I can tell you that it sucks to travel in winter when you have flu. Simply horrible! It still happens to me again and again.

I also keep a supply of paracetamol since they are pretty effective for most common sickness. Other than these, I will only bring along medicine for food poisoning if I feel it’s necessary.

If only we can take medicine for all travel problems...

If only we can take medicine for all travel problems…

2. Don’t push yourself. Know your limits.

You are on holiday and it’s understandable that you will want to fully maximise your time there. However, you will still need to listen to your body and rest accordingly to get better. Otherwise, you will just end up prolonging your suffering and worsening your condition. Since you are alone, it’s best to rest and get slightly better rather than ending up at the emergency department in the local hospital.

If I can afford to, I like to wake up late, just snuggle in bed and go out to walk around the area or just to have dinner and then back to bed. It all depends on how I feel on that day.

3. Be responsible for your own health.

When I am sick, I try to be more responsible when it comes to food. I avoid spicy food, try to have more soups than fried food and drink lots of water. I’ve had to learn this the hard way myself and it is even more important when we are alone.

chicken soup for the mind and soul

chicken soup for the mind and soul

The importance of this was made apparent when I refused to stop drinking milk tea in Japan because I absolutely loved milk tea there. It’s not a bad thing to have on normal days but unfortunately, I was nursing a really bad, relentless cough that would constantly get aggravated each time I drank milk tea. So yes, eventually I had to be a responsible adult and stopped myself from drinking it. So, lesson learnt – stop being stubborn, it’s for your own good. A bit can still be tolerated but not in excessive amounts like I did.

4. Get help from staff or hostel mates.

The good thing about staying at hostels is that you make friends. Sometimes, you just can’t help but have to turn to someone for help because you may be too sick to be thinking properly. In this instance, don’t hesitate to reach out. You’ll sometimes be surprised by the generosity of others when you are sick.

I will also usually request a staff member to get medication for me if I’m in a non-English speaking country. It’s better to get the correct medicine rather than wait for it to make you worse.

5. Call home.

This is my most favourite thing to do when I am sick. Sometimes, listening to a loved one when you are sick and alone can be the best medicine. I was sick, cranky with no one around to commiserate with me. So, I skype home and whine to my mum instead. She makes fussy noises, comforts me and I feel much better just to have a listening ear.

Hello? Hello? Anyone there??

Hello? Hello? Anyone there??

Have you been sick when travelling before? How did you manage your travels while being sick? Please do share!!

10 thoughts on “Sick while Traveling Alone

  1. Last year I had planned for two big trips – one to Swiss and the other to the south of France and I was beyond excited for both. Aaaand I got sick just before both the trips, really hard luck! But I still went ahead with my plan as I was travelling with my bf and I was sure he will take good care of me 😉 Sick when alone feels miserable! I haven’t yet experienced it in travels but I have lived alone for a significant amount of time and I can totally relate to your words!!

    Get well sooon ❤


    • Getting sick while travelling just makes it harder..good that you had company to give you some tlc…I’m like a bear hibernating…sleeping most of the day away…haha….thanks!!!! 🙂


  2. I remember having a really nasty cold when I was in New Caledonia. I was travelling alone, and staying in a youth hostel. I went to the store, bought a box of cookies, climbed back in bed and ate cookies all day.


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