How to Get Sick on Holiday and Still Have a Good Time

Grindelwald, Switzerland

December 2010

Being sick is the worst. I feel that I can make this statement from a position of some authority as I’m currently lying in bed with the blankets up to my chin, a throat that feels like I’ve been gargling broken glass and a voice that sounds like a cross between a frog and Darth Vader (I have laryngitis, if I haven’t made that clear). But if being sick during your everyday life is bad, how much worse, then, is it when you fall foul of the latest bacteria or virus when you’re on your precious and hard-won holiday? I must say it is rather terrible timing when this does happen, but, surprisingly, when it happened to me I did find one or two upsides to being sick whilst travelling. Contrary to my expectations, it wasn’t absolutely the end of the world. 

There’s this thing about snow, you see. It’s cold. That’s also the thing about Switzerland in December. It’s cold. Especially if you’re in a skiing village. Then it’s especially cold. And snowy. And that’s the thing about being cold – it makes you more likely to catch a cold. And that’s exactly what I did. I spent three days wandering the snow-covered village and tearing down mountains on a toboggan, then spent the next three wrapped up in blankets in the hotel with several boxes of tissues for company.

While I can’t say I recommend being sick on holidays (I reached new extremes of jealousy as my younger brother continued his snow-capped adventures while I languished in bed), there were some redeeming features. Well, at least three.

  1. I got to fulfil my fantasy of sitting by a roaring fire as snow fell outside

I mean really, who doesn’t dream about that sort of thing? Well, maybe not those who live in the type of climate where that’s a regular occurrence, but for me it was a big deal, ok? Yes, the growing pile of dirty tissues beside me did minimise the effect a little, but hindsight has given me the ability to ignore that particular fact. The wood-panelled, sofa-filled, fireplace-warmed lounge of our hotel was lovely and to some extent reminded me that even if I was well, I would probably still be spending quite a lot of time in the hotel by choice.

  1. I had plenty of books to read

I am a notorious bookworm, so spending several days forcibly confined inside with a small pile of books had its benefits, even if it did mean that I was missing out on other fun things outside. The hotel had a small shelf of books for patrons’ perusal, but I was more taken with the selection I’d purchased from the incredible Waterstones in London a few weeks prior (five floors of books! I hadn’t been able to help myself, to the detriment of my carry-on luggage).

  1. Everyone was really, really nice

Yes, I know it was because they were feeling sorry for me, but I was thoroughly spoiled. My mum brought me back all sorts of goodies (mostly edible) that she found in the village shops. My brother tried his very best not to rub it in that he’d been tobogganing all day and I hadn’t. The hotel staff found out and the kitchen, very accommodatingly, organised a suitably soft and easy-on-the-sore-throat meal at Mum’s request. The manager’s wife kindly had some ice cream sent up with her compliments. People seemed to realise that flying half way across the world to go skiing/tobogganing in Switzerland and then not being able to was pretty disappointing, and, as much as no one likes to be pitied, their resulting kindness meant a lot and went a long way towards cheering me up.

So, if you ever do find yourself sick while you’re travelling, well, I sympathise with you. It sucks. But it turns out there’s usually a bright side somewhere. You may just need to look a little harder.

Have you ever been sick while travelling? Had a good experience? A terrible one? I’d love to read your comments!


  1. Haha, I like this positive glass half full approach you are taking! It is nice when people bend over backwards to look after you when you’re ill and bring goodies – and it’s nice to be able to eat lots of goodies without feeling too guilty because you’re ill anyway so we’re allowed little treats ☺

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Fun blog, Bec. When you travel a lot, the occasional bug is bound to catch up with you. Hopefully, someone is along to spoil you. The worst part for me is If I have to travel, especially on a plane, that is uncomfortable in the best of health. –Curt

    Liked by 1 person

  3. You have a good attitude. That makes a huge difference. I’ve been sick on a couple of trips. It forced me to slow down and cut back on the sightseeing to only the most important things.

    Liked by 1 person

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