Imagine that you have just boarded your plane, settled into your seat, and have secretly jumped for joy inside that so far nobody has occupied the space next to you. Then imagine that a last minute passenger rushes on and sits right next to you. However, this is no ordinary passenger. You see, this person begins a very horrible coughing fit—lasting several minutes—and can’t seem to stop. This is what happened to me a week ago on my 14-hour flight from New York to Korea.
Although my seat-mate proceeded to apologize to me for his illness, I still had premonitions of hearing him the entire trip over. Much to my delight, the flight was not full and I was able to quietly slip away and sit with a colleague of mine for 95% of the journey. As a frequent traveler, I can honestly say that nothing gets people more on edge than sitting near an individual who is obviously sick. After all, we have busy schedules waiting for us at our destination and can’t afford to catch anything along the way. I’d like to share some tips for those traveling when under the weather.
1. Consider postponing:
If you are really very ill (fever, nausea, dizziness, and chills, etc.) you should seriously think about moving your travel dates until after you have substantially recovered. In fact, if you arrive ill, some countries may require a medical examination before letting you clear immigration and customs. When I arrived in Japan on this trip, there was a large sign asking individuals who were ill to step aside for an exam. While I am not sure what would happen if they confirm you are in fact ill, it would be a shame to have to go through all of these delays if you don’t feel well.
2. Wear a mask during the flight:
If you have ever traveled to Asia, you will quickly notice that a large portion of the population wears surgical masks over their mouths on a daily basis like it is no big deal. They are obsessed with not catching germs or viruses. Even though this is not a big trend in our western culture, if you have a bad cold or cough, your fellow passengers will appreciate it if you take steps to minimize the rampant spreading of your germs by wearing a mask yourself.
3. Pack wipes to de-germ:
If you are contagious or feel the early onset of an illness coming, try your best to disinfect your hands, arm rests, tray table, and television remote control as often as possible. Pack moist towelettes/baby wipes with you to handle this task, or at a minimum carry an antibacterial hand gel.
4. Take along the right medications:
Sometimes you come down with an illness on the way back from a business trip, versus on the way to one. If you are in a foreign country, it can often be hard to find the products you regularly use and prefer. Always keep an emergency stash of at least a decongestant and a cough suppressant in your carry-on baggage in case you need it either coming or going. Anyone who has ever suffered the excruciating ear and sinus pain when descending for a landing from 38,000 feet will agree that it is important to always be prepared.
As always, I wish you happy and healthy travels.
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