What To Do If You Get Ill While Travelling As A Digital Nomad

I’m sure you have experienced it too, just like me and many other travelers. Getting sick while traveling! What can be worse, right? It’s especially annoying for digital nomads who often spend long periods of time in no set location.

It’s pretty much one of the most obnoxious things that can happen while you’re trying to enjoy your long-awaited holiday, often one for which you had to save up all year. But then it happens! So what can you do about it? What’s the best way to deal with sickness while being “on the road”? Here are some tips on how to diverge, or at least improve, a health catastrophe.

Check in with yourself and breathe

First and foremost, don’t get flustered and try not to panic. Speaking from my own travel experiences, it can be difficult to stay calm, especially if you’re in a remote and somewhat risky area, where Malaria and dengue fever persist. But do yourself a big favor and don’t assume the worst.

If you feel flu -like symptoms creep in, stay in bed for a day, or modify your itinerary enough, so as to not overwork yourself. Take it slow, get the rest you need, and don’t be too hard on you. It’s important that you don’t force yourself to partake in extreme sports, climbing, or any other strenuous activity, which would most likely make your condition worse.

MEDITATE: It can be very useful to meditate every morning while you’re travelling, as this actually helps in one way or another to avoid illnesses. It’s been shown to boost your immune system!

Home remedies

Of course there are various home remedies that can make you feel like a million bucks again in no time! I tend to go with the classics, such as drinking lots of tea and water to avoid dehydration, taking a hot bath, if available, taking naps throughout the day, and eating light and healthy meals.

The best option is always some kind of broth, like grandma’s classic chicken noodle soup, or even plain vegetable broth. With this, you’ll be doing jumping jacks again in less than 48 hours! However, having access to these remedies is not always possible, depending on where you are at the time.

Nonetheless, clean water and a bed to sleep in should always be readily available, and will provide you with the essential tools for a speedy recovery. Stay calm and carry on! Or as the Sri Lankans jokingly would say: “Stay calm and curry on”, a little tribute to their love for curries (which you shouldn’t eat while sick, since it can upset your stomach!).

Also, make sure to wash your hands often and thoroughly, and use hand sanitizer to avoid further contact with any kind of bacteria.

Pre-departure check-list

To prevent yourself from being caught off guard, it’s best to prepare for medical emergencies before you start your travels, in case you fall ill. You should think about the essential things you need to bring travelling

No one wants to think of that scenario, but it’s better to be safe than sorry, am I right? Anyone can make some space in their suitcase for over the counter bought medicine. Pack something for flu, an upset stomach, headaches, and fever.

You might even want to invest in a travel first aid kit, and pack a few less clothing items instead. Sounds unreasonable? Then at least pack some band-aids, in case you are bleeding. You never know when a monkey might bite you unexpectedly!

There’s also no harm done in getting some essential vaccines beforehand, on which you can consult any travel doctor, and to arrange for some travel insurance. Believe me when I say that it has saved me thousands of dollars over the years!  I guarantee you, with all of this preparation, you will feel much less anxious, and will be ready for whatever will come your way while traveling. 

Last resort

Now, if all your own preparations and home remedies don’t work, then it’s time to see a doctor. Most importantly, if your fever is more than 103 Fahrenheit, or you were involved in an accident, immediately seek medical attention.

Your hotel or host family, if those are your options, should be able to guide you to the nearest hospital. If you’re on your own, don’t hesitate to contact your local embassy, which can help you get to the nearest medical center, and even airlift you out of the country, if needed.

That’s where international travel insurance will become a life-saver, unless you’re wealthy enough to not worry about money.  But who are we kidding? That’s 1% of the population! So let’s stick with the insurance. Then, In case you have to seek a doctor, make sure that this person either speaks your language, or bring a local with you, who can serve as your translator.

The latter is ideal, since many countries don’t require doctors to speak English, in particular in Africa and Asia. As an alternative, if you can’t find a local to accompany you, you can also bring a small dictionary, with which you can try to describe your symptoms, or simply write the most useful words on a piece of paper to speed up the process, if your condition allows.

Let’s hope that you won’t have to remember this, but just in case, you’ll be glad to know what to do. Enjoy your travels and try not to get sick!