Don’t Spend Your Vacation Sick – 9 Ways to Stay Well



Two days after Jeff and I got married, we boarded a plane to Cancun. While we were on the flight, my throat began to feel painfully dry – a feeling that progressively worsened as we got closer to our destination.

I began gulping down excessive amounts of water, hoping that it was only a case of mild dehydration or dry mouth. But when each swallow was accompanied by a more intense, sharp pain, my hopes faded. This was not anything temporary or even a common cold. It was strep throat — or something similar (I never found out for sure).

When we got to Mexico, I decided to wait out the pain, hoping it would disappear. It didn’t. A few days into our trip and desperate to feel better, I purchased a Z-Pak from a local drugstore. Though I am absolutely NOT condoning or advocating for the use of antibiotics (especially without a prescription), the Z-Pak did the job for me at the time. After 2 days on antibiotics, the pain in my throat disappeared and I was free to enjoy the rest of our honeymoon.

You wouldn't know it from the picture, but I was NOT feeling well at the time.

You wouldn’t know it from the picture, but I was NOT feeling well at the time.

Although the stress of planning a wedding surely had something to do with me getting sick on our honeymoon, I started thinking back to other times that I came down with something while on vacation — and there were a lot. A bit more research on the subject revealed that it wasn’t just me who was plagued by this strange and annoying problem.

Think about it. Often times, vacations involve cramming ourselves into a plane with hundreds of other people (some of which are almost certainly sick) and breathing in recycled air for hours at a time. We also have the tendency to stress out about vacation and everything we need to get done leading up to it, and then let go too much once we’re there — giving ourselves permission to eat, drink, and do things that we normally wouldn’t.

So after the whole honeymoon ordeal, I decided that I would never waste another vacation being sick again…and I haven’t! Here’s how…

9 Ways to Stay Well on Vacation

  • TIP #1: Drink a lot of water. Water oxygenates the blood, which then transports oxygen to every cell throughout the body. A well-hydrated body is more capable of flushing out toxins, removing waste, absorbing nutrients, and stimulating our natural healing mechanisms. When traveling to a particularly warm and sunny place, you’ll need to consume more water than usual. And if you choose to disregard Tip #2, you’ll really need to drink a lot of water!

  • TIP #2: Limit alcohol intake. Alcohol is a toxin. And whenever we put toxins into our bodies, our immune system needs to work extra hard in order to remove them. When we consume alcohol, we demand that our immune system expend a huge amount of effort in removing the alcohol from our system — leaving us vulnerable to catching any sort of virus or bacteria we come into contact with (these effects can last for up to 24 hours). If you do decide to enjoy a few adult beverages on vacation, opt for drinks that don’t include sugary syrups or sodas.

  • TIP #3: SERIOUSLY limit sweets. Similar to alcohol, sugar takes our immune system’s attention away from doing its job of fighting off sickness (instead forcing it to deal with the inflammation, insulin response, and other adverse effects of sugar). As much as possible, try to keep your sweet tooth in check if you want to stay well.

  • TIP #4: Get plenty of sleep. The relationship between sleep deprivation and weakened immune response in humans has been documented over and over, and over. Adequate sleep (8 + hours per night) is crucial for immune health, which should be a breeze to achieve while on vacation!

  • TIP #5: Load up on Vitamin C. We’ve all been told of the powerful immune-boosting effects of Vitamin C (often times advertised in favor of supplements like Emergen-C and Airborne). But as always, whole-food Vitamin C sources like colorful veggies, sweet potatoes, oranges, and grapefruit are much more effective than the manufactured stuff.

  • TIP #6: Take fermented cod liver oil. Rich in Vitamins A & D (both crucial in activating immune response), and K2 (reduces inflammation), Fermented Cod Liver Oil (FCLO) provides the body with a powerful supply of sickness-busting nutrients. Green Pasture FCLO is the ONLY supplement I take. It has made a huge difference in my immune function and has cleared up my acne significantly (post coming soon on what happened when I ran out of it. Hint – It wasn’t pretty!).

  • TIP #7: Enjoy the sunlight (but not too much). Another excellent source of Vitamin D, sunlight plays a huge role in keeping us healthy and happy. Get the right amount of sunlight each day (this amount differs for everyone), but don’t overdo it! Click here for more info on how to smartly approach sun exposure.

  • TIP #8: Exercise. Studies have shown the immune-boosting effects of exercise. It also makes us feel good. So why not do it on vacation? There’s certainly no harm in taking one (or two or three) days off from exercise while traveling. But your body (and mind) will thank you for making time to run on the beach, practice yoga on your hotel room balcony, or hit the fitness center for a mini WOD.

  • TIP #9: Don’t stress! This should be a given. Our bodies were not equipped to handle the chronic stress that most of us deal with on a regular basis. And vacations should provide us with an escape from that. But often times, we struggle more with the stress leading up to a vacation than anything. This can usually be prevented or lessened with a bit of planning ahead. Start packing earlier than the hour before you leave. Work extra hard on finishing up any work-related projects or duties during the week(s) leading up to your trip — instead of the day before. Start setting up your mind and body for pure relaxation ahead of time to avoid the drastic switch from “work mode” to “relax mode.”

Implementing these tips should keep you healthy and allow you to enjoy your vacation to the fullest. But keep in mind that even if you’re doing everything right, the cold and flu still may not have any mercy on you. And if that’s the case, it’s even more crucial to incorporate the tips listed above and allow your body to recover as quickly as possible.

What are your tricks for staying well on vacation? Are you already implementing some of the points listed above or do you have your own list of tips? Let me know with a comment!


  1. Jessica Andrews says

    HI Bethany,

    I’m curious, do the cod liver oil supplements you recommend have a strong fishy aftertaste? I want to order some but I don’t want to waste them if I can’t stomach the aftertaste. A mild one I’m sure won’t be bad but if its an all day thing I’m not so sure.


    • Bethany McDaniel says

      Hey Jessica! I get the orange flavored capsules and don’t really experience any sort of aftertaste from them, but do get some mostly orangy/slightly fishy mini-burps afterwards. It doesn’t bother me at all, but if you’re super sensitive it might be annoying. I’ve heard the cinnamon flavor takes care of any negative aftertaste effects really well though – that might be a good option for you!

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