How to Not Get Sick on Vacation — And What to Do If You Do Catch Something

Take steps to avoid getting sick in the first place, and be sure you have medical insurance coverage just in case.
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Written by Carissa Rawson

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There’s little else that kills the joy of traveling more than sickness. Whether you’re suffering from Montezuma’s revenge or a case of the sniffles, illness on the road is the worst. But what are you supposed to do if you get sick while traveling? Let’s look at what it's like to get sick on vacation — and what steps you can take to avoid it.

How to avoid sickness while traveling

Trying to avoid getting sick in the first place? These tips can help you stay fit for your trip.

Bring your medications

If you're on prescription medication, make sure you bring enough to last your whole trip; you don’t want to go cold turkey on something that keeps your body in balance.

It’s also a good idea to bring any over-the-counter remedies you might need, like painkillers, anti-nausea medication, anti-diarrheal drugs and motion sickness pills. If you do end up feeling sick while traveling, this can save you a trip to a pharmacy or doctor.

Avoid risky food

This is pertinent everywhere, but especially in locations where the diet is significantly different from yours or hygiene standards are lacking. Do research before deciding on a restaurant, and avoid those tempting roadside stands if they look sketchy.

Keep clean

If the past few years have taught us anything, it’s that hygiene is important. Remember to wash your hands often and avoid touching your face, especially when you’re out and about. If you don’t have much access to soap and water, bring hand sanitizer to do the job.

Don’t overstress yourself

It’s natural to want to maximize your time on vacation, be wary of running yourself ragged. Five 11-hour tours in a row may allow you to see a lot of things, but those early wake-up times and late returns can wreak havoc on your immune system. Make sure to factor in time to rest.

What to do if you get sick traveling overseas

Contact your insurance company

Although you likely have health insurance at home, it’s possible it won’t cover you when you’re overseas. This doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll have to pay out of pocket for treatment, though.

Travel insurance can provide medical coverage for you during trips. There are multiple types of travel insurance with varying deductibles and coverage limits, so you’ll want to check out your options before buying one.

If you have travel insurance and need to visit a health care facility, contact the insurance provider first to be sure the facility you select qualifies for reimbursement under your policy.

Check your credit card

Depending on how you’ve booked your travel, you may be eligible for complimentary medical insurance through your credit card. Many travel credit cards offer coverage for various types of medical care, including medical emergencies, emergency evacuation and even quarantine.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve® card, for example, will provide up to $2,500 in health care with a $50 deductible if you’ve used the card to pay for your trip. The card will also pay up to $75 per day for five days if a doctor deems it necessary for you to stay in a hotel after being released from a hospital.

Go to the doctor

Are you ill enough that you need to see someone? Don’t worry; most places will be able to accommodate you. This is true even if you don’t have travel insurance. In some locations, such as Italy, emergency medical care is free.

In others, you’ll need to pay out of pocket, but you probably shouldn't expect expenses such as you’d find in the U.S. In Crete, for example, a nighttime house call with a doctor and nurse will cost you 200 euros, or roughly $195.


This can be your first or last step, depending on the severity of your illness. It’s tempting to cut your recovery short, especially when your vacation time is limited, but you shouldn’t.

Allow time for any medications you've been prescribed to take effect, and give your body a chance to heal before venturing out on another tour.

Sickness while traveling, recapped

Nobody likes being sick, but it’s worse when you fall ill on vacation. Follow our tips to avoid sickness altogether — maintain good hygiene, bring over-the-counter medications, avoid risky foods, and make time for recovery.

If you end up sick on vacation, try not to worry too much. If you have travel medical insurance, you'll want to contact your insurance provider to find in-network care. Otherwise, some travel credit cards provide complimentary insurance, though you’ll want to verify your coverage before departing on your trip.

Finally, if you do get sick on vacation, do yourself a favor and don’t cut your recovery short. Stay in bed, drink fluids and finish your medications before heading out for more adventures.

How to maximize your rewards

You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are some of the best travel credit cards of 2024:

Travel Cards from Our Partners
Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card

on Chase's website

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NerdWallet Rating
Rewards rate


5x on travel purchased through Chase Travel℠, 3x on dining, select streaming services and online groceries, 2x on all other travel purchases, 1x on all other purchases.


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Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 when you redeem through Chase Travel℠.

Chase Freedom Unlimited Credit Card

on Chase's website

Chase Freedom Unlimited®
NerdWallet Rating
Rewards rate


Enjoy 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Travel℠, 3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service, and unlimited 1.5% cash back on all other purchases.


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Up to $300

Earn an additional 1.5% cash back on everything you buy (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year) - worth up to $300 cash back!

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

on Capital One's website

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
NerdWallet Rating
Rewards rate


Earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase, every day. Earn 5X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of trip options.


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Enjoy $250 to use on Capital One Travel in your first cardholder year, plus earn 75,000 bonus miles once you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening - that’s equal to $1,000 in travel.

See more travel cards
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