Sick Days On Vacation: Make The Most Of Your Trip Despite Illness

No one puts a hospital visit in their itinerary or adds sick days on vacation. Being ill while on holiday is the last thing we want to happen. Sadly, when an illness strikes, it doesn’t check your schedule and can hit even more emotionally and physically as you are away from home.

Unfortunately, during the last part of my trip to Guatemala I was enslaved to hotel rooms due to a parasite/virus in my body. I know what you’re thinking, “enslaved”, that’s a bit dramatic. But for a travel addict like myself being unable to see places is the ultimate FOMO.

What’s more annoying is that I got sick in Guatemala, of all places!!! Given my family is from here, and I have visited multiple times with only getting ill as a child. I thought I had paid my dues and my body was prepared for Guatemala. The cramps, constant visits to the bathroom and being malnourished for over a week, proved different.

So what should people do if they find themselves sick while abroad? Full disclosure, I’m not a medical professional, don’t intend to me, etc. but based off research, my doctors and putting into practice the below, I can say these remedies have helped me when I was ill.

Table Of Contents:

Take a peek at what you will find in this sick days on vacation article below.

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Why It’s Important To Treat A Travel Sickness

Being sick can happen anywhere and for a number of reasons. Regardless if you are at home or on vacation. But, if you are dealing with an illness on the road it can be even worse and scarier as you may not speak the language. Treating yourself and the symptoms you are experiencing from the start can make the biggest difference to help tackle your illness early on.

Don’t Leave Home Without It – Travel Insurance

First things, first. Having travel insurance is crucial! Particularly when unexpected illnesses strike during your travels. Sick days on vacation are bad but a medial bill is even worst and not the souvenir you want to bring back from your trip. I personally experienced the benefits of travel insurance firsthand in Colombia when I had to visit the ER. Because I was a smart cookie and prepped for the unexpected before my travels, having travel insurance allowed me to receive the necessary medical care, financial protection and ensure a worry-free journey.

Find travel insurance for your next trip below or check rates via KLOOK. Its better to be safe than sorry. Trust me!

Illness Prevention Remedies For Travelers

Tell People

Whether you’re on a solo journey or traveling with companions, it’s vital to communicate openly about your well-being. Sharing what you’re going through with those around you can provide invaluable support to speed your recovery. People knowing means they could potentially offer assistance, keep an eye on you, or simply lend a comforting hug to lift your spirits.

Even if you’re traveling solo, don’t hesitate to inform your familyand/or friends, even from afar, about what you’re experiencing. Keeping them informed allows them to offer remote support and understanding. (For peace of mind, I always have a sim/data that I can use on my phone so that I don’t rely on wifi. Download your eSIM with Airalo HERE.)

If you’re staying in a hostel with roommates, it’s considerate to let them know about your situation, and it’s also wise to inform the accommodation staff. They can provide guidance on nearby pharmacies and doctors and may have basic first aid available should you require it.

Change Your Diet

Losing your appetite is a common experience when you’re unwell, but it’s crucial not to underestimate the seriousness of malnutrition. Ensuring you eat when your body is ready is important, but exercise caution in choosing what you eat. Some foods can worsen your illness and condition. And let’s be honest, is this really what you want when away? Opting for the right foods can significantly improve your situation. When I fell sick, I made a conscious effort to:

Avoid certain items, such as:

  • Dairy
  • Spicy foods
  • Caffeinated products
  • Raw vegetables, and

Instead included foods like:

  • Oats
  • Bananas
  • Dairy-free smoothies.
  • Granola bars
  • Plain bread with butter
  • Simple pastas
  • Nutrient-rich broths.

This approach prevents further irritation to the body and supports the healing process.

Drink Electrolytes

Staying hydrated is essential, and incorporating electrolytes becomes even more crucial. Particularly when dealing with diarrhea and vomiting. These conditions can deplete your body of important electrolytes and sodium, so it’s beneficial to drink sports drinks and Pedialyte to prevent dehydration. In case you can’t find these either Pedialyte or sport drinks where you are, there’s no need to worry; you can create a homemade alternative with the recipe below. This way, you can ensure your body receives the necessary electrolytes to support your recovery and manage sickness during travel.

Easy Homemade Electrolyte Supplement:
Mix one (1) litre of water with half (1/2) a teaspoon of salt and five to six (5-6) teaspoons of sugar.


I know this might not be what you want to hear, but it’s essential to take those sick days on vacation, get some rest, and not push yourself just because of FOMO. Pushing your body when it’s feeling weak can actually make your health decline even more. Take short naps and only move around when you feel up to it or when necessary.

When I got sick in Guatemala, I didn’t want to be stuck in my hotel room, but my body didn’t give me much of a choice. I had to accept it to avoid making my illness worse despite the FOMO I was feeling since I knew I was in my last part of my vacation and would probably not recover before my departure. Thankfully for me, this won’t be the last of visits for me in Guatemala and I’ll be back. 

Remember, your health comes first, and once you’re feeling better, you’ll be able to enjoy yourself and hopefully if you are still on vacation, resume travel activities.

Visit Pharmacy

If you’re facing illness while traveling, start medication as soon as you notice symptoms. This is not the time to take chances or wait for your immune system to kick in. Nobody wants to stay sick while on the road, right?

Even if you’re not fond of taking pills, like me, in situations like these its crucial to take medication. You can ask the staff at your accommodation for help or simply do a quick Google search to find the nearest pharmacy. Sharing your symptoms with the pharmacist will enable them to offer the best advice and suggest appropriate medicine to treat your specific symptoms. For example, there are antibiotics that will treat stomach viruses and diarrhea which you can get easily get from a pharmacist. Acting on your illness early can make a significant difference in your recovery and allow you to get back to enjoying your travels.

Visit A Doctor

Dealing with most viruses, unfortunately, means letting them run their course. However, if the pharmacist recommends it or you’re not showing signs of improvement or getting worse, it’s essential to visit a doctor or head to the emergency room to be seen by a medical professional as soon as possible. They will be best equipped to diagnose your condition, conduct any necessary tests, and provide appropriate next steps based on your health.

For instance, when I returned from my trip to Guatemala, I still wasn’t feeling 100% after six days of symptoms. To ease my mind, I decided to see my general practitioner. I explained the steps I had taken so far (those mentioned above), and he advised me to continue with the same approach.

More Travel Healthy Content

Check out this additional article related to staying healthy on the road so you can prevent sick days on vacation below.

Explore more useful resources related to travel below.

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