No one ever wants to get sick in the first place. You aren’t in full control of your body when you have an illness or pain weighing you down.

It’s especially difficult to be under the weather when you’re at work or far away from home — which means getting sick on a business trip is the last thing you want.

Unfortunately, aside from taking precautions, there isn’t much you can do if your body decides you’re sick while you’re on a work-related getaway. Until you can get back home, these tips will help you manage most illnesses and general pains.

1. Dig Into Your First-Aid Kid

If you travel a lot, you should have a travel first-aid kit that goes with you everywhere. You can put it together yourself using a gallon Ziploc baggie and some basic healthcare items.

Whether you use alternative medicine, such as vitamins and minerals, to feel better, or pharmaceuticals, add these essentials to your list:

  • An immune system booster, such as Emergen-C, Zinc, or Airborne
  • Headache relief
  • General pain reliever
  • A sleep aid
  • Cold/phlegm relief
  • Bandaids/gauze pads
  • An ACE bandage
  • Tweezers
  • Antibiotic
  • Eyewash solution
  • Thermometer
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Alcohol swabs
  • An antiseptic
  • Cotton balls

With these items, you should be able to manage nearly any average cold or simple scratch, scrape, or burn without leaving your hotel room. If it gets worse than what your first-aid supply can handle, it’s time to reach out for help.

2. Call Your Doctor

Your typical go-to meds and extra vitamins aren’t kicking whatever bug you have going on. You may need something stronger prescribed by your doctor.

As a general rule, most doctors want to see you before they give a prescription, so if you call your physician and they won’t prescribe you anything over the phone, don’t get upset. That’s a normal part of being a cautious healthcare provider.

You can request a televisit, either through a video chat or a phone call, instead. Since the COVID pandemic, nearly every medical practitioner has added this “office visit” method to their standard daily practice.

This is good news for those of us that don’t have a regular medical doctor or health insurance. It’s easy to find a teledoc online, schedule an appointment for that day, and get a prescription sent to a nearby pharmacy.

Keep in mind that controlled substances must be prescribed in person and can’t cross state lines. This prescription method is only for general medications.

3. Extend Your Stay to Recover

While you’re attempting to recuperate, you may have had to cancel some meetings. As much of a letdown as that is, it’s important for your recovery and to avoid passing germs to others. Most people will appreciate you being considerate of their health by not showing up while you’re contagious.

Another step to consider is the fact that while you’ve been trying to rest and feel better, your trip is winding down. Will you be able to safely travel home without making everyone around you sick throughout your travels?

Today’s travelers have options that didn’t exist before the pandemic. Now, it’s easy to adjust your transportation with a quick phone call. Let the staff know that you can’t fly or ride because you’re sick, but you’re on a work trip and need to get home. They’ll change your return trip information to give you a few extra days of recovery time.

The next step is to ask your hotel about their extended stay policy. Chances are since you’re already there and you’re sick, they won’t give you a problem. You’ll have to pay for the extra nights or ask your company if they’ll take care of the cost.

However, some hotels don’t allow extended stays or are already fully booked with reservations. If you’re able to move, talk to your travel manager to see if they can find you a nearby hotel where you can get your health back in peace.

If your problem is so severe that you absolutely can’t switch hotels on your own, you may want to look into going to the hospital.


Getting sick happens to all of us, no matter how healthy we “normally” are. If you’re on a business trip when it happens, you have to roll with the punches and focus on feeling better. With these three tips, you can nurse yourself back to health and get home safely when you’re ready.

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