Getting sick sucks, especially when traveling. Sometimes, it’s inevitable. However, I picked up a few tricks over the years for how to not get sick when you travel. I have been to many developing countries throughout Asia, Africa, and Latin America – and I can count the number of times I have been sick on one hand. Those few times also happen to be when I wasn’t following my own advice below.
1. High-dose Vitamin C
Take high-dose Vitamin C supplements every day – at least 1,000 mg. Make sure to take even more during travel days since your body will be tired and exposed to even more potentially harmful germs. I currently travel with Lypo-Spheric, which has high-quality and pure forms of Vitamin C in individually wrapped gel packs. However, there are many cheaper options, like Emergen-C, available at any grocery or health store. This is one of the easiest and most effective ways to not get sick when you travel.
2. Don’t neglect sleep
It is tempting to sacrifice sleep when you are excited in a foreign country. However, sleep is critical for recovery and it is essentially important when you are balancing different time zones, new environments, and unfamiliar beds. Make an effort to get your rest and your body will thank you by (hopefully) not getting sick.
3. Stay hydrated
“Drink lots of water” may seem like obvious advice, but it’s easy to forget to do this when you are out exploring a new city. Walking a lot, hot temperatures, alcohol, coffee, high-sodium foods, and flying are all common when traveling and can be especially dehydrating. Don’t let budget or laziness prevent you from constantly buying bottles of water and drinking at least 10 cups every day.
4. Limit the alcohol
I will never say not to drink alcohol while traveling, but keep it to a minimum. Alcohol weakens the body and makes it less able to fight off attacks on the immune system. Nearly every time I got a bug or virus while traveling also happened to be after a night of drinking. This is especially important to remember for how not to get sick when you travel if you are not going to get enough quality sleep that day.
5. Fresh juice bars
You can find fresh juice bars almost anywhere in the world. It may be a trendy, overpriced shop in Europe, or some guy squeezing pomegranate and oranges on the side of the road in the Middle East, but you can likely find one. A fresh vegetable and fruit juice a day will go a long way to keep you healthy. Prioritize variety of ingredients over taste if possible, and add fresh ginger or turmeric if they have it.
6. Be active
Do something to get the blood moving and break a sweat each day. If you are walking a lot to explore, this satisfies that requirement. However, if it is a more relaxing day, go for a jog and do some light stretching, but move every day. It is even better if you can find a park with exercise equipment or a local gym that offers day passes. This will help your flush out any toxins and will prevent you from feeling sluggish after you indulge in the local cuisine.
7. Find a sauna
If you are staying in a nice hotel or in a city that has a sauna culture, this will be easy to do every day. Otherwise, try to find a sauna every few days. Saunas force your body in a natural fever state and helps you fight off any potential attacks on the immune system before they become a problem. It likely won’t work for things like food poisoning, but I’ve never had any illness while maintaining a sauna routine. This may be the hardest tactic to do, but probably the most effective to help you not get sick when you travel.
8. Rely on local pharmacies
If you follow all these steps, you will be fine most of the time. However, getting sick when you travel may be unavoidable sometimes. When this happens, local pharmacies can be surprisingly effective. Many items you will find over the counter internationally can be highly effective are often not available yet in the United States and Europe (although sometimes for very good reasons). Make sure to double check any medicine before you take it for that reason. While this may not help with prevention, it will help you recover quickly – another important piece of how not to get sick when you travel.
This “how to not get sick when you travel” blog post was inspired by my new Ask Konrad Anything Travel Show on YouTube:
I hope this helps you learn how to not get sick when you travel so you can focus on having an awesome trip instead! If you found this article helpful, you can also follow me on Instagram or sign up for my free weekly digest about ways to travel the world while you build a successful business or career and make a difference:
How to not get sick when you travel