Being sick can put a damper on the best of days. While traveling, being sick can turn a magical dream vacation into a nightmare. What can you do to keep yourself healthy while traveling, and what is available toward prevention of acquiring those nasty viruses or infections?

Right now, Coronavirus is making the headlines. While the number of cases is still relatively few in the United States, it is scary. American airline carriers have recently ceased service to China, and the WHO is escalating their warnings. Southeast Asia and the area are also of concern. If it’s not Coronavirus, it’s Norovirus, SARS or the flu. All of these viruses have occasionally crippled the travel industry. Is it enough to cancel those travel arrangements now? It remains to be seen. We are still early in the development of this virus and seeing its impact.

While we would all like to predict how this current viral threat plays out, it really depends on you and your own health. Certainly, trip planning to China should be postponed if you don’t have a trip on the books yet. If you have a winter tropical vacation planned, then you may want to consider taking precautions in the airports enroute. If you do have a cruise, tour or airline ticket to China or Asia, you need to check with your travel advisor or supplier. Some are making adjustments to their itineraries. Many travel insurance companies are not offering coverage if you don’t actually have the disease. Yes, it can be financially scary as well. Cancellation based on fear is generally not covered by travel insurance... you must be personally impacted medically. You’ll probably get further with the supplier but you need to follow up with the insurance company, if you purchased travel insurance.

Then, what can you do toward prevention? While I am not a health professional, there are some commonsense pieces of advice. The most important is to wash your hands! Airports and airplanes have thousands of people streaming through their environments. Additionally, you may want to toss some hand sanitizer and surface wipes in your carry-on to wipe down your airplane tray and your hands prior to eating or drinking onboard. Those who have respiratory illnesses or immune disorders may want to consider a hospital face mask in transit. I personally take an immune-booster such as Airborne or something similar prior to flying. Additionally, I pack along Zicam or an equivalent should I feel symptomatic. Do they work? I can’t say for sure but I feel they can’t hurt.

For those of you who follow my articles, you know I travel to unique destinations. The sickest I got last year was after my conference in Las Vegas. Someone mentioned that Norovirus was prevalent there during that time. I’ve traveled to Egypt, Italy and remote Canada within the year with no problem. Las Vegas bit me. Many conference attendees mean many germs. So… extra precautions if you’re traveling on business.

On my remote trips I pack along a first aid kit filled with essentials. I pack aspirin or ibuprofen, Imodium, stomach aid, cold medication, nasal spray, antibiotic, Neosporin, as well as blister aid, band aids, tapes and compresses. With my kit, I carry my own medications as well. I know my vulnerabilities. What’s in your personal first aid kit? It depends on your trip and you. If you’re on a trek you’ll want more than a sightseeing trip as pharmacies and medical attention will generally not be available. If you are personally susceptible to infections you may want to ask your doctor for some back-up medication to get you by until you get home. All of these items are packed along in my carry-on luggage.

Then we have the issue of vaccines. Where are you traveling? First, you should contact your own healthcare provider to see if they have recommendations for you. If you are looking at a remote tropical destination, you’ll want to consider a yellow fever booster or anti-malarials. Hepatitis A, B and C should be considered in Africa and other developing countries. In India you’ll want to look at additional typhoid prevention. My favorite go-to (short of my own healthcare provider) is Passport Health. They have nurses on-site that will give you treatments. If your own provider doesn’t have the vaccine it’s worth checking with Passport Health. They will sit down with you and look at your destination then provide advice. It’s your choice from there.

From Sisters, you will need to travel to Portland for an appointment.

I’ve traveled enough and seen the inside of overseas medical clinics. I can say that in most cases, I would rather deal with my own doctor. Most of my illnesses have happened in remote places, so having some medication on hand was a lifesaver to make the long flight home until I could get in to my own doctor.

The biggest thing you can do is know your body and pack accordingly. Don’t leave anything up to overseas medicine if you can pack it along. In some countries, antibiotics are readily available, such as Mexico. But in developing countries, you want to make sure you know what you’re getting.

Travel well and travel smart!