How To Not Get Sick While Traveling

by Jeremy Schoemaker on September 28, 2009 · 69 comments

I can’t imagine we are only 2 days away from the Elite Retreat conference. I was packing over the weekend and was thinking back to our 2008 event in San Francisco. I was so sick. It really was a miserable time for me.

At the Elite Retreat I get the best leaders I know in the industry to help the attendees but its my show and I want to solve peoples goals. I size everyone up as fast as possible and the whole time I am focused on solving their problems and helping them get to where they want to.

Just a month back I was at the affiliate summit and was sick also. Being sick sucks in general but at a conference when you are “working” it really sucks.

Both of these times I got sick on the first day I arrived at the conference. I usually get there a day or two early so the cold/flu hits me hardest when I need my strength the most.

Here are my tips for not getting sick while traveling:

Pre-emptive measures

  • Flu shot/mist – Every year you should get a flu shot. I used to not get these until I had kids. The flu shot helps you build an immunity to the flu. The flu mist is a new deal that gives you longer coverage and covers more types of flu. You can read more about them here.
  • Vitamin C – I take 2000mg of Vitamin C a day. This super bumps up your immune system.
  • Airborne Myth – There is a product called Airborne that used to make claims that it would help you to not contract illness while flying on planes. 30+ million dollars later in FTC fines and consumer settlements its now marketed as a simple dietary supplement. Don’t fall for this one! WASTE OF MONEY!

Things you should avoid but are kind of unavoidable

  • Don’t shake hands Many people have written about hand shaking and what a barbaric method of greeting it is. There are tons of great alternatives I wish we would embrace. Shaking hands is one best way to pass germs person to person. I would rather shake hands then create the awkwardness of leaving someone hanging. But that is where the hand sanitizer comes in.
  • Sit in a isle seat on the airplane – lots of times people will rest against the window area and breathe/sneeze all over it.
  • Don’t use the bathroom in the airplane – This is by far the easiest place to contract a cold or flu. Most airplanes only have cold water that do not really kill bacteria and suck for hand washing. Badness all over in airplane bathrooms.
  • Don’t Smoke – Smoking irritates your throat and weakens your immune system. I am a conference smoker and usually smoke 2 a day or so when I drink. IM WORKING ON IT!
  • wash wash wash wash wash your hands.

Must have items to prevent getting sick

  • Keep a mask in your carry on. I am not talking about one of those surgical masks. Surgical masks are made to keep the wearer from preventing spreading their germs if they cough. You need to get a Pandemic Mask like this. If you have to sit bitch on your plane or anywhere near a child bust that sucker out.
  • Use Alcohol-based hand sanitizers or gels or antibacterial wipes – I always keep hand sanitizer gel in my carry on and use it frequently throughout my trip.

Hopefully these tips will help you not to get sick while traveling.

If you have any to contribute fire away!

full disclosure

About the author...

– who has written 2896 posts on

Jeremy "ShoeMoney" Schoemaker is the founder & CEO of the ShoeMoney Blog, Elite Retreat Internet Conference, & the PAR Program. In 2013 Jeremy released his #1 Amazon Best selling Autobiography titled "Nothing's Changed But My Change" - The ShoeMoney Story. Jeremy currently lives in Lincoln Nebraska with his wife and 2 daughters.

Jeremy recommends you check out these amazing posts:

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1 Jackson Matthews

great information! good post!

2 mc

You might consider adding vitamin D to your repertoire if you’re in cold, cold Nebraska for most of the year:

You have to take 4000 or 5000IU to get it to do /anything/ though. You get a good 10000IU after 20 minutes in the sun, and then it stops producing, so that gives you an idea of what our immune systems expect to have.

3 Todd Mintz

Not drinking helps…but then, you wouldn’t have nearly as much fun :.)

4 Learn Internet Marketing

Depending on where you are, DO NOT drink the water :)

5 Sheila

One more thing I do is bring antibacterial wipes on the plane with me. As soon as I can get situated in my seat, I pull out the wipes and wipe down all the surfaces that I think I’ll might be touching during the flight.

I do still take a generic version of Airborne, though. I was once on a flight where the flight attendant had one of the nastiest colds I’ve ever seen. She was snorting snot, coughing, and barely able to talk. She was serving us drinks and food. I had taken my Airborne before the flight and I took another one during the flight. I never picked up her cold and since then I still use my Airborne. I figure that it can’t hurt to dose up on those immunity boosters.

Another tip I’d add is no matter how hard you try not to get sick when traveling, it will still happen on occassion. So, Andy and I always bring a baggie with OTC medicines to treat stomach and cold viruses. It’s useful to have them on hand in case you need them rather than having to get out in a strange destination looking for remedies.

6 Adam

I keep hand sanitizer in my pocket and use it frequently. I also take a couple of those cold-eeze zinc logenzes (Target brand is cheapest) each day around travel, even when I don’t have a cold. I also drink those Emergen-C powder drinks around trips and take some with me in my bag as well. It has helped thus far in my travels and hopefully will do so again as I travel for Elite Retreat.

7 List Building Blog

Great tips.! I agree in all your ideas specially when it comes to washing our hands. I thinks its the most important thing we should always do.

8 Sudeep

Good points …In the last 15 days I had a chance to go for a long flight to India … here is what else I discovered in keeping good health when flying long flights .
I am sure readers of ShoeMoney would like this post too .


So after ‘great internet marketer’, ‘SEO’, ‘PPC guru’ , we now have Dr Shoemoney. Good going! :)

just kidding… nice tips.

10 ShoeMoney

Dr Shoemoney is my wife… and she was not consulted for this post.

11 Eleanor

Thanks for the tips. I’ll add one more…

I used to get wicked sinus infections after long flights. Now I take a saline nasal spray (I like Ayr) to keep my nasal passages moist.

12 work at home

One good advice on how not to seek while traveling, I was not really aware all of the above point. Thanks Jeremy for let us inform about all precaution while traveling.

13 Bryn Youngblut

Great tips for sure, I need to start bringing some vitamin C along with me.

14 Peter Ralph

Most people become ill just before they travel!
Peter Ralph

15 Brad

i’ve noticed that too, i don’t ill, but it seems like everyone else on the trip gets ill.

16 Binocular Harness Guy

i have used airborne for years. i never even heard about their drama with the FTC

i guess i have been taking sugar pills essentially.

i’m glad you posted this, it will save me some money for sure.

17 Barbara Ling, Virtual Coach

With 4 kids, 12 Twitter Budgies, 2 mooses and a husband – I now have more exposures to sicknesses than normal human beans. My immunity has definitely gone up.

18 Wesley Green

I would add the importance of drinking plenty of water and eating a well-balanced diet while traveling.

Granted, it’s tough eating what you should while traveling- especially if you have kids- but it can be done by hitting restaurants which have some kind of buffet.

The Geek Entrepreneur

19 tom
20 Burping Sluts

True, vitamin C does help your immunity, but it’s also a diuretic so you simply pee out anything over about 100mgs. Not a good idea if you’re looking to steer clear of the airplane bathroom. Drink plenty of water then drink an Emergen-C when you land and pee all you want at the hotel room.

21 tammy

You do need both but yes vitamin d is pretty awesome ;) Vitamin c needs more help though, b/c vitamin d you can get from the son, so that’s why i think people focus on C more.

22 Tammy

LOL i mean SUN not son

23 The Vegas Geek

Excellent thoughts Dr. Shoe :)

On most flights, the cabin of a plane is one of THE most unhealthy environments in the world. The air is NOT filtered in the cabin and ask any experienced “stu” and the ALL suffer from frequent colds and upper GI infections.

TIP: Try and avoid those “red eye” flights. Yea, they are cheaper but they are significantly harder on your system, mess up your “clock” and do lower your imune system a tad. Sometimes they are unavoidable.

24 jeff

Have you ever busted out the mask? Seriously? Did you get weird looks? One of those things that is totally practical but i would feel like a total douche doing.

25 dean hunt

Hey shoe,

Cool post, I get ill every time I travel, whether it be flu, sinus issues, colds…

So I will be following your advice here.

Thanks bro,


26 Andrew Anderson

Have to disagree with you on the Airborne.

Flown over 100 times, taken it 96 times… never got sick, 4 times that I did not, I came down with a bug. (it has vitamin C)

Think is was just shyster ambulance chasers out to make a buck personally.

Anyway, my 2 cents… I never travel without it.



Wow, I had no idea people freaked out about this kinda stuff so much.

Personally I think I’d rather not sweat it and just try to exercise, eat right, and cross my fingers. Being worried about germs all the time sounds exhausting.

28 Lee Mayne

Agree totally,

I think that most of the illness comes from the stress related to flying (getting to airport at odd hours), the disruption to normal sleeping patterns, and the general stress of conducting business away from home.

Eat well, sleep well, relax a bit more.

29 smilinggreenmom

Ewww…public bathrooms! Our family always take all kinds of germ-free precautions when traveling. I have to say that the best thing we have found is to make sure you take a good probiotic before and during your travel. We take Vidazorb chewable probiotics and we love them because they don’t need refrigerated which makes it great to travel with!! Also- antibacterial hand sanitizer! Ug- thanks for the tips!

30 Tammy

Neat article but before you get the flu shot please do a bit of research. There is a lot of evidence to suggest how much of a crock the flu shot is, and how it often gets people sicker and has lasting effects that they aren’t even 100% sure about yet. The vitamin c is definitely a biggie. I get the powdered stuff from Trader Joe’s over here, just dissolve it in a bit of sparkling water. The FDA recommended amount for 100% of your vitamin c is severely low. Lots of info on this stuff, but suffice it to say, you really can’t have too much, but you just pee it out if you do. You can easily have 500 to 1000 mg without any trouble, in fact, for you, the more the better b/c it won’t hurt ya. A multivitamin is a good start, but it’s not nearly enough. And please please, don’t just get the flu shot. It’s really not very good at all. There’s a movement here in the US to start monitoring the vitamins people can take – it’s called codex alimentarius – worth researching too as it’s quite scary.

31 Brian Mark

Not only do the flu shots not work well, but many still contain mercury. I don’t want that injected into me.

Personally, I don’t touch hand sanitizer. You know what? I rarely get sick… haven’t missed a day of work in 8 years and counting. People that follow these suggestions at my office miss several days every year. There is a lot of research to show that the more you use the stuff, the less your immune system can handle everyday germs.

I say do yourself a favor and exercise your immune system.

32 Daimon

Actually you CAN take too much vitamin C. When you’re sick your body will handle several grams a day. However, if you take too much (at any time) you will get diarrhea, so don’t down a bottle just as you get on the plane. Just back off and it will go away.

33 jason

I’m so freaked out by this whole swine flu thing. I’ve been avoiding places that are very crowded.

34 buddy

flu shot bad? think not. best for kids, and sure adults cant hurt – but most have immunity to much. i get my kids flu shots asap when they come out, if not, they will get everything under the sun, and they did 2 years ago before they got the shot, after shot NOTHING! learned my lesson that year to get shot/mist right when they come out, cause you cant get it when they are sick, and as we learned 2 years ago, the cold’s, fevers, pink eye, strep throat just piled up and up.

35 jessiev

i always try to stay hydrated,and keep my hands and self away from germy people!! excellent information – thank you!

36 fas

Dont fly, just drive down :p

37 work at home

I always take medicine with me when I go for any long tour.

38 Rick Kats

Vitamin C is amazing at keeping your immune system strong, I should definitely consider taking it on a daily basis. I’m sick as I’m typing this :(.

39 jason

I’ve been taking a product for a while called proflavanol, it is a vitamin product that has vitamin C from grape seed extract and antioxidants. It is a little more expensive than regular vitamin C but its worth every penny. I haven’t been sick in forever.

40 SEO Basics

Hand sanitizer is my best friend. I have heard too much can be a bad thing though. I would rather take the risk and use too much than be sick.

41 Senior Walking Fitness

Hand washing is essential. Do it for fifteen seconds minimum. In the UK we sing the first verse of ‘God Save the Queen’ that takes 15 seconds so we know.

42 Diabetis

If you want to not get sick then it would be advisable to exercise regularly. Exercising boost our immune system.

43 jorge

Take my advice: don’t eat a hot dog at 3am in Nicaraguan after drinking all night.

44 Chris Peterson

I agree that certain tips of precaution are worth as the good practices in general & especially when you are traveling. However, I am a kinda person to works hard to maintain my body healthy through proactive means rather than trying to run away from diseases. Because health ain’t absence of diseases, right?

45 success from affiliate marketing

good i like it

46 List Building Strategy Blog

Yeah great advice you have there specially for the travelers.. Well, I am into taking vitamin C ever time I travel.. That’s one of my secret weapon..

47 rob

WTF, how about eating decent food (i.e. those things called vegetables) and getting some exercise?

48 Rebecca Kelley

That’s good for overall health, but jamming spinach down your gullet probably won’t protect you from catching a bug from some diseased conference goer who sneezes in your face.

49 ZK @ Web Marketing Blog

Good and healthy food is always helpful. This one strength your immune system.

So here Good and healthy food is also at top priority dear Rebecca.

50 Praveen
51 best registry cleaner

Hand washing is better, plus sanitizer. its always good to be prepared in every thing, taking Vits is nice because it strengthens your immune system. Nice piece of advice…

52 Keith Wilcox

I tried those Airborne things once. You are right, they suck. I take that Emergen-C stuff that has all that vitamin C. That stuff rocks! I wouldn’t say kids are quite as bad as you make them out to seem. My boys are not sick any more often than I am. Some kids, yes, are dirtier. But, you can tell who they are, just like you can tell who dirty adults are (usually). Maybe I’m taking it personally here, but I would be offended if someone put on a mask around my kids. Because my kids are cleaner than most adults I know.

53 Jeffrey Henderson

You know Canada just announced they might shut down flu shots after a study that showed it doubled your chance of getting the H1N1 virus.

54 Vance Sova

Hi Jeremy,

I agree with some of your points but there are few of which I’m not so sure:

Flu shots work only when the virus strain is identical or very close to the virus for which the vaccine was made. It is a hit and miss science. Want an example?

2 or 3 years ago 2 people in our office got the flu shots and both of them got the flu.
2 of the 3 other people who didn’t get the shot didn’t get the flu.

Not using the washroom on airplanes may work on short flights. On intercontinental flights of 9 or more hours it would be really hard to do.


55 ZK @ Web Marketing Blog

Yes for long hours its quite difficult but however Jeremy is telling to avoid.

To avoid this you should drink less fluid.

56 duffle coats

And, to the extent possible, keep getting a respectable amount of sleep while traveling. Nothing brings on a bug like partying til 3, then having to get up for an 8 am meeting.

57 Jeans

I use Hand Sanitizer for years now, almost compulsive and it keeps the germs away!!!

58 ZK @ Web Marketing Blog

Certainly this one is the most important thing, but with this what do you do other things as well.

While travelling I prefer fresh fruits and clean water. Yes washing hands is at top always.

59 Adi - Safety

I have an interest experience about getting from flue about 3 years ago, when I will go to pray for pilgrimage, I must be given meningitis vaccine, but after that I never getting ill even flue or cough until to day almost for 3 years.

60 HeightWeightChart

Hopefully by following some of the advice above and a little pre-planning you will have a safe, happy and healthy travel experience!

61 ZK @ Web Marketing Blog

Four things you should consider –

Eat healthy and fresh food.

Eat clean water

Wash your hand frequently

Avoid public place or people who are sick.

62 Cheaper Parcel Deliveries

Most effective way to avoid getting sick while travelling is to stay home. Another effective stress reducer is to send your baggage ahead of time by courier, and then ship it back home the day before you leave, so you don’t have to lug it with you.

63 godaddy coupon codes

Thanks for sharing the tips. I always get sick while traveling

64 EarningStep

usually i take enough vitamin c in my bag.. vit c is really a nice pill to boost your stamina up

65 MR

usually i take enough vitamin c in my bag.. vit c is really a nice pill to boost your stamina up


Yea, nothing better than taking a big bottle of pills through security!

They really love it when they are in a plastic zip lock baggie.

67 Dejan

I personally think the handshake is great – it’s genuine friendly human contact. Though you might get infected with something because of 1 in a 1000 handshake, I’d still take this over the “Demolition Man” human contact with no actual contact.

It’s kind of confirming the thesis that we’re growing apart because of modern communication.

68 網站登錄

I realize the concernsoI am very r glad to hear that you got your Supra fixed, I remember reading about some of your problems5xc !.

69 B. Saunders

Breathe through your nose—not your mouth . Your nose traps germs and viruses.And keep your hands away from your mouth and face.

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