Even for a fun vacation, travelling may be somewhat stressful.

When a cold or other illness is added to the mix, travelling can become intolerable.

What you need to know about travelling while ill is provided below.

Read more to find out advice on how to relieve your discomfort, how to care for a sick child, and when it’s best to stay home.



✅ It can be stressful to travel. Having a sick child or being unwell oneself might make things more stressful.

Flying can be made more tolerable for minor diseases like the common cold.

✅ Consult your doctor to determine whether it is safe for you to travel if you have more serious or moderate illnesses or problems.

Be advised that some airlines may refuse to let seriously ill customers board the aircraft. Speak with the airline and your doctor if you have any concerns.


Travelling when sick

Flying when sick is not just difficult and uncomfortable; it may also be painful.

Your middle ear and sinus pressure should be equal to that of the ambient air. The external air pressure varies more quickly during the takeoff and landing of an aeroplane than the interior air pressure does. This may lead to:

  • pain
  • Decreased hearing
  • dizziness

If you have a cold, allergies, or respiratory infections, this could be worse. This is because these ailments lead the already restricted airways that supply your sinuses and ears to become even more so.

Think about the following suggestions to feel better if you’re travelling with a cold:

  • Take a pseudoephedrine-containing decongestant, such as Sudafed, 30 minutes before takeoff.
  • Gum can help balance pressure.
  • Drink water to stay hydrated. Beware of caffeine and alcohol.
  • Pack tissues and any other comforting supplies you might need, such as lip balm and cough drops.
  • Request assistance from a flight attendant, such as more water.

Bringing a sick child on a trip

Consult your paediatrician for approval if your child is sick and you have a flight coming up. Once the doctor gives the all-clear, follow these instructions to ensure your child has the best flight experience possible:

  • Plan for takeoff and landing to assist your child’s ears and sinuses to receive an equal amount of pressure. Give them something age-appropriate that stimulates swallowing, such a bottle, lollipop, or piece of gum.
  • Even if your child isn’t ill, bring some essential medications. To keep some on hand just in case is a good idea.
  • Drink water to hydrate. No matter their age, passengers should follow this advice.
  • Bring antibacterial wipes. Clean the tray tables, chair armrests, and seat belt buckles.
  • Bring your child’s preferred diversion materials, such as games, colouring pages, or films. Your child’s attention may be diverted from their discomfort by them.
  • Take your own wipes and tissues. Compared to what is often offered on an airline, they are frequently softer and more absorbent.
  • Keep extra outfits on hand in case your youngster throws up or is otherwise messy.
  • Before arriving at your destination, locate the hospitals in the area. Knowing where to go in advance might save you time and stress if an ailment worsens. Make sure you have your insurance card(s) and any further medical identification(s) with you.

Despite the fact that these suggestions are geared towards travelling with a sick child, many of them also apply to travelling when unwell as an adult.


When to postpone a trip because of illness.

It makes sense that you would not want to cancel or postpone a trip. However, there are situations when you must postpone to protect your health. In the following circumstances, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advise against flying:

  • You’re taking a newborn infant on vacation with you.
  • Your 36th week of pregnancy has passed (or your 32nd week if you are carrying multiples). Consider bringing a document from your doctor confirming the due date and the pregnancy’s overall health after your 28th week.
  • A recent heart attack or stroke occurred in you.
  • You recently underwent surgery, preferably on your stomach, bones in your joints, eyes, or brain.
  • Your head, eyes, or stomach have recently been injured.


The CDC also advises against flying if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • Chest ache
  • severe sinus, nose, or ear infections
  • serious long-term respiratory conditions
  • a lung collapse
  • Brain swelling brought on by an infection, an accident, or bleeding
  • a contagious illness that is easily spread
  • Sickle-cell disease


Last but not least, the CDC advises against flying if you have a temperature of 100°F (37.7°C) or higher together with any one or all of the following:

  • observable sickness symptoms, such as fatigue and headache
  • A skin rash
  • Breathing issues or shortness of breath
  • a severe, lingering cough
  • Ongoing diarrhoea
  • Constant vomiting that isn’t related to motion sickness
  • yellowing of the skin and eyes

Be aware that certain airlines monitor the waiting and boarding areas for individuals who are clearly ill. They may in some circumstances be able to keep these persons from boarding the aircraft.


Can airlines turn away sick travellers?

Airlines have the power to deny customers conditions that could develop worse during the journey or have catastrophic repercussions. The airline may request medical clearance from its medical department if they come across someone they believe is unable to fly.

In the event that a travelling suffers from a physical or mental condition that:

  • could be made worse by the flight
  • could be seen as posing a risk to the aircraft’s safety
  • could impair the crew members’ and other passengers’ welfare and comfort
  • needs specific accommodations or onboard medical care.

Consider requesting a medical card from the airline’s medical or reservations department if you frequently fly and have a persistent but stable medical condition. This card is acceptable as documentation of medical clearance.


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