Survival Guide To Flying When You’re Sick

While the winter holidays are often seen as a chance to travel, the cooler temperatures can often leave many feeling under the weather. So, what to do if you have a case of the sniffles (or a full blown cold/flu), but need to be hopping on a plane? Fear not, today I’m going to share with you guys some things that work wonders for me, when I need to fly while I’m sick. Tried and perfected over the years (even a mere two weeks ago, when I flew from Munich to Los Angeles with a horrible cold), here are my tips.

  1. The second you feel the sick coming on, start hydrating, both with water and Vitamin C. Hydrating is generally crucial before a flight, but even more so if you are sick. You’ll feel a lot worse if your water levels are running low during the flight. Tip: bring your own (empty) water bottle onto the plane, and ask the crew to fill it up for you.
  2. If the sinuses are feeling stuffy, start working on clearing them up. Before this past flight to LA, I started taking decongestants (such as Mucinex D) the day before my flight, along with rinsing with saline water. The morning of my flight, I packed some in my carry on as well for during the journey. If you fly with clogged nasal passages, you have a high risk of ear pain both during the flight and after landing, as your ears will be unable to adjust to the changing altitude.
  3. Don’t you dare fly without a beanie on your head and a scarf around your neck. Even when I’m healthy, that dry air hurts my sinuses.
  4. Pack your own tea, they’ll give you the water. If you want, even bring a thermos far larger portions.
  5. I know it’s near impossible for some people, but especially if it’s a longer flight, try to sleep! A sleeping mask and neck pillow alone will do wonders. For those that feel comfortable with taking medication, maybe pack some NyQuil and try to get some shut eye with that.
  6. If you’re missing something, you can always ask the crew. They want you to be comfortable and will be willing to help, whether it’s with getting you an eye mask, or giving you a pack of tissues.
  7. And if worst comes to worst, and you are truly too sick: stay at home. I know, it’s heart breaking to miss a flight, but if you really do think that you are too sick to fly, chances are, you are. Know when to call it a day.

I truly hope that you guys are all lucky people that have never had to fly sick, but if you have, or are about to, I really hope you find these tips helpful. Does anybody else have any advice? Please do share in the comments below!

x Julia

P.S. Please keep in mind that I am by no means a medical professional, if you’re really sick you should see a doctor. But, these few tricks work for me when I need to get through a flight.
P.P.S. Image courtesy of Pinterest.


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  • Sense the Place

    Thanks for sharing these tips, exactly what I need right now :) As simple as it sounds, but packing my own tea bags never crossed my mind. Thanks again

    • I’m so glad I could help you out!! And thank you so much for reading :)

  • Great sharing!
    Happy New Year 2018!
    IG @grace_njio

  • This year I tried it several times to be sick while flying. It is the worst feeling, and it certainly doesn’t get better having to spend hours up in the air.
    Your tips are great, and I agree. If you’re too sick then it’s not even worth it getting out of bed.

    Happy new years eve!

    • Thank you so much for the wonderful comment! I know it’s so tough, especially when all you want is your own bed.

      x Julia