Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association

September 27 2013

Ever Been Sick Abroad?

By Michelle Crowley

being sick abroad

If you travel enough, I’m sure you have. It has happened to me a few times, typically after back-to-back trips. At PCMA’s recent Global Medical Meetings Summit in London, I even lost my voice. This makes things very difficult when you are trying to run an event. Luckily the folks at ExCeL were extremely kind, ensuring I had a constant flow of tea with honey.

Being sick abroad can be scary, exhausting, but mostly just annoying. It slows you down, takes you off your game and makes it hard to perform 100%. Here are some tips I have:


I travel with Airborne, Emergen-C and other Vitamin C supplements. I have one the day I fly before I get to the airport and another on the plane and again on the return. I also have orange juice on the plane, hoping it will help. This does not always work, but I think it helps with getting your mind thinking you can’t be sick.


Try to keep some consistency or normalcy to your schedule. I drink a ton of water during the day when I am at the office. I frequently forget about it while on a tradeshow floor or in meetings in other countries. This may not seem like a big deal, but it can really hurt your body. When you order at a meal or even in a meeting, ask for water, along with whatever else the locals are drinking.

Eating habits

I love trying the local food when I travel. To me, this really adds to the experience and understanding the local culture and traditions. Still, be sure you are getting ample fruits and vegetables in the mix. There are local markets in most of the cities, so just pop into one on the first day and buy a couple large bottles of water, some fruit and granola bars. I also find it critical to have breakfast when I travel, and something of familiarity. Don’t get me wrong, I love having chilaquiles and taquitos for breakfast in Mexico, but I need to have something else in my stomach too.


Luckily, I have never been hurt while traveling or living abroad. It is a good idea to understand your medical insurance, in case this ever happens. Countries like Panama are even providing free emergency medical insurance to tourists during their first 30 days of their stay. You should contact the local U.S. Embassy or Consulate if you need true emergency assistance while abroad. Hotels can also be of great assistance if you are in need of a local dentist and often times have doctors in house or ones they may recommend. As always, it is important for family members or trusted friends to have a copy of your itinerary, passport and other important documents, in case there is a need.

Do you have other tips? I am always interested in learning. Share them on Catalyst

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