I am finally back from a wonderful-though-brief vacation in Orlando, visiting my grandparents and finally–FINALLY–getting my ass to some theme parks. I was also sick for a majority of the time. AGAIN. I’ve been sick for the last two vacations I’ve been on, as well as a major business trip that happened a few weeks ago. (I’ve got theories upon theories as to why that happens, but that’s for another blog post)
There is nothing worse than being sick when you’re traveling – ESPECIALLY when you have to fly. Fatigue, eardrums clogging, near bursting, painful sinuses, a half hour long decent that makes you want to rip your head off your shoulders because of the miserable pain WHYYY DEAR GOD LAND THE DAMN PLANE ALREADY UGHHH. I’ve been through it all.
I’ve learned a hell of a lot as to how to manage air travel with a cold. Here are your best bets:
1. Sudafed is your friend
I’m normally an advocate of letting your body heal itself, but if I’m congested and have to fly, my first purchases are pseudophedrine (the generic Sudafed – it’s cheaper and non-drowsy) and some kind of nasal spray -like Afrin- because flying sick sucks and I’m not messing around. I have no idea if you are supposed to take these both at the same time, so please read your labels, but definitely use one of them before you set foot in that godforsaken pressurized cabin.
I used Afrin for the first time on my most recent trip and it was like the skies parted and heaven rained down on me – I could breathe! Good Lord, the sweet relief!!! Of course, you aren’t supposed to use it all the time and the next day I was WAY more clogged up than when I started, but it did help me not beg the flight attendant to put me out of my misery from the sinus pressure pain.
2. Prevent eardrum explosion…yes, I said explosion
Okay, I guess they won’t technically explode but they can perforate if enough fluid builds up in there due to pressure. You can also get pretty bad ear infections. And you’ll be walking around feeling like you’re underwater for days which I HATE, so I guess what I’m saying is go buy some ear plugs.
Specifically, get Ear Planes. They are designed to regulate pressure, and can be bought at any place in the airport where toiletries are sold.
What earplugs do is prevent your eustachian tubes from filling up with fluid too fast when the pressure changes by preventing air from rushing in. Before I figured this out and flew with a cold, there were times where I was convinced my ears were bleeding they hurt so much – especially during that lovely descent. Do yourself a favor and plug them up. Your ears may still fill up, but not as quickly – and I’ve found that if you can lay on your back for a good period of time soon after the flight, they will drain out faster (seriously, so damn annoying).
Put them in as soon as the cabin door closes, and take them out again only after the cabin door opens. If you’re on a long flight, you can take them out when you reach cruising altitude, but keep an eye on the time and put them back in an hour before you’re set to land.
3. Osicillo…oscillococi…that homeopathic stuff
It’s called Oscillococcinum and I am a believer. A few people recommended it to me awhile back and I never went for it, but I decided to give it a try this time around because I really didn’t want to be laid up during my vacation. It’s a homeopathic remedy that is supposed to cut down the length of time that you feel sick – specifically with a cold or flu. You can get it at any homeopathic remedy/vitamin shop.
It’s a little weird – you dissolve a tube full of it under your tongue every six hours when you first get symptoms – usually for a day or two. A lot of people said it was crap, but I actually turned the corner within a day and a half of what started out as a pretty nasty cold. I’m usually fatigued for at least two days and congested for a week…what started on Wednesday is now completely gone on Monday. Maybe it’s just one gigantic placebo effect – the mind is the most powerful drug, after all – but what matters is I feel better! And honestly, I’ll take it.
4. Don’t get sick
The best way to fly with a cold is to not get one. Take your vitamins, eat real food, exercise, go see a chiropractor, and gear your mindset towards being well instead of “not being sick.” When bugs do come your way your turn around time will be a lot quicker, and you won’t have to weep like a baby in front of everybody on the plane.