Five Ways to Cope With Being Sick on Vacation

I went on my first overseas trip to Ireland in the Spring of 2009. I had been planning this vacation with two of my high school girlfriends for the past year. I had done all of my research. I had packed all the right things. I had everything under control….except my health.

These are five ways that I coped with being sick on my first overseas journey.

1. Create a cocktail of prescription medication and alcohol

My travel companions, Jen and Janet, boarded the plane with me and we settled in for our overnight flight from Chicago to Dublin. I was coughing, sneezing, and blowing my nose every minute. I figured the best strategy was to sleep it off, in hopes of waking up refreshed and healthy. Jen offered me a high-dose prescription sleeping pill, and I downed it with an Amstel Lite the flight attendant brought me.

Within about twenty minutes, the plane started spinning. I was dizzy and sweating profusely. Perfect. I felt my on-flight dinner creeping up from my stomach as I crawled over Jen and Janet’s laps to run to the lavatory. I slept six hours in a pill/beer cocktail stupor. Thanks near-fatal drug cocktail!

2. Spend a lot of time outdoors in cold, rainy environments 

Ireland in May is very rainy, windy, and averages about 50 degrees every day. Although my travel mates and I packed sweaters and umbrellas, we were constantly walking around in the rain to get from one historic castle to another in and around Dublin.

The worst weather day just so happened to be the day we planned to spend the most time outdoors in Killarney National Forest. Bright and early, we boarded a train to Killarney to do some hiking, canoe, and island exploring. Our favorite part of the area was Muckross Abbey, which was an island we reached by canoe.

There were ancient preserved ruins from a monastery and leper colony from the 11th to 13th centuries. After a full day of exploring, we started making our way towards the park exit. However, we didn’t have a map, we had no idea where we were going, and a torrential downpour started. Hours later, we finally saw a recognizable building and made it out of Killarney National Forest. However, this outing certainly didn’t help my sickness whatsoever.

3. Drink excessive amounts of heavy beer 

Back in Dublin, Jen, Janet, and I did the requisite tour of the Guinness Storehouse. This tour took us on a journey of five levels, each of which including drinking Guinness. It was at this time that I learned that both Jen and Janet hated heavy beer. I love beer of all shapes, sizes, and varieties, and I’m more than willing to help out my friends in need.

Not only did I finish my beers at each of the tour’s floors, but I also finished my friends’ beers so they wouldn’t go to waste. I’ve heard people say that alcohol kills germs, but I’m pretty sure that this level of heavy drinking set my recovery back a bit.

4. Flirt with the hot Bed and Breakfast owner 

After we had seen most of the main sites in Dublin, my travel mates and I took a train to Cork. We found a quaint little town that was very inviting and intriguing. I had booked us reservations for two nights at a bed and breakfast along one of the main streets in Cork.

As soon as we rang the doorbell, we were greeted with a friendly welcome by a very handsome gentleman, who invited us sit down for afternoon tea. I couldn’t stop staring at the attractive bed and breakfast owner and told my travel mates that I would make him my husband, move to Cork, and help him run business.

With my runny, red nose and my periodic coughing fits, I felt anything but attractive myself. However, I mustered up the courage to go strike up a conversation with my “future husband”. Not more than three minutes into the small talk conversation, I felt a sneezing fit coming on and let out eighteen sneezes in a row without stopping. I was mortified and he had a look of pity in his eye. Needless to say, I do not live in Cork and I am not married to a hot bed and breakfast owner.

5. Get a tattoo

I have always loved Celtic artwork and got a Celtic spiral with a henna design tattooed on my hip many years ago. Before my trip to Ireland, I picked out a design for my next tattoo, which was a Celtic compass star. The design for this tattoo was based off a song that I wrote the previous year. The chorus was :

No star to guide through the desert,
No compass to guide through the sea,
Footsteps sink into the beaten path,
Towards where I’m meant to be.

It was difficult to find a tattoo parlor in Dublin, but we finally found one. The tattoo artist working there was a very nice young woman with many beautiful tattoos of her own. By this point in the trip, I had completely lost my voice. In whispers, I explained to the tattoo artist how I had decided upon this particular tattoo. For some reason, she automatically assumed that I was a famous singer-songwriter from the States and that my voice was gone because of my recent shows. I played along and didn’t see any need to reveal to her that I was an unpublished songwriter with walking pneumonia.

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