How To Not Get Sick While Traveling

Posted by

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!

69 thoughts on “How To Not Get Sick While Traveling

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. ROW

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

    just kidding… nice tips.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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

    1. 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.

    2. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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,


  10. 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.

    1. 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.

  12. 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!

  13. 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.

    1. 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.

    2. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. 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 :(.

    1. 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.

  16. 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?

    1. 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.

  17. 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.

  18. 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.


  19. 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.

  20. 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.

  21. 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.

  22. 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.

  23. 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.

Comments are closed.