When Sickness Strikes… On the Road

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I turned off the lukewarm water and stepped out of the shower. I really thought a quick rinse would make me feel better. Twelve hours in the 100-degree Disneyland heat will wear you down and I was a sweaty mess.

Friday night I went to bed feeling slightly cleaner, but still a bit dizzy. A little nauseous. I fell sleep thinking about the next day’s drive to San Diego.

I tossed and turned through the night – nothing new to me on this California trip. The combo of hotel pillows and jetlag meant I was rolling over every couple of hours. Except tonight, each roll gave me the spins. I felt like I was intoxicated. Which was ironic, because Disneyland doesn’t even serve alcohol and this was the first night on the weeklong vacation that I hadn’t drank wine! I was exhausted from a long day at the park, but stone cold sober.

I woke up on Saturday, stood up and felt like the floor was spinning. I barely made it to the bathroom. I immediately knew I was not well. I looked at the clock.


Three hours until check out.

How would I make it?

Would I make it?

Clearly I was dehydrated. The previous day we spent 12 hours at Disneyland celebrating my daughter’s 6th birthday. To me, the theme park felt like an oven – it was so hot, and dry, and the little bit of shade offered no relief. When thinking back on the day, I realized we never went inside. Not even to eat lunch or dinner.

What do you do if you get sick while traveling? Who do you call? What are ways to minimize the financial damage | Sick While Traveling | Vertigo | vestibular neuritis |
Birthday dinner at Cafe Orleans. Disneyland, CA

So I began to hydrate- chugging water and having hubby get me a Powerade from the hotel gift shop. I didn’t even worry about the expensive up charge (we NEVER buy from hotel gift shops) and the fact that I was drinking full-calorie sugar water (I’m obsessed with Gatorade G2 at home). But I figured, who cares and hunkered down with Headline News and the coverage of Hurricane Harvey in Texas. I figured I’d be up and running within the hour.


I texted my best friend in San Diego and told her we were getting “a late start.” We called the front desk for a late check out.

We pushed our departure time back until 1pm and I laid down for a nap. If I kept my head straight I was okay. As soon as I moved, I felt dizzy and nauseous. I figured a little more sleep and I would hop out of the sheets, pack up and drive the 90+ minutes to our last stop on this awesome California road trip!

Little did I know, we wouldn’t check out for four more days.

As 1pm approached, we had to decide if we were going to be able to vacate. Hubby remained hopeful and extended our stay until 4pm for a small fee. The hotel recommended an agency that would send a doctor and this seemed like the only way we were going to be able to get me feeling better so we could move along to our next stop.

I had been drinking fluids all morning and it no longer seemed possible that I was only dehydrated. As the morning turned into afternoon, I felt worse. I had trouble sitting up to eat. I could barely walk to the bathroom. Around 2pm, a doctor was in my hotel room.

Through a urinalysis, he ruled out dehydration. He checked my vitals, asked me questions and performed several tests on my gross motor skills and balance. He checked my ears, eyes and diagnosed me with BPPV Vertigo.

He gave me an injection to jump start my recovery. He broke the bad news that San Diego wasn’t going to happen and advised me against flying the next day. He gave me a meds for both nausea relief and a diuretic to help flush out the fluid in my inner ear.

At this point, we called our hotel in San Diego and cancelled our stay. Saturday night we remained in Anaheim, hopeful that I could drive to San Diego on Sunday for our noon flight home. The doctor said I could feel better within 24 hours, we were banking on me being up and running in about 20.


But Sunday came and went. The kids spent a lot of time on their iPads and hours in the hotel pool. Forget traveling two hours to the airport and 3,000 miles across the country, I could barely make it out of bed.

What do you do if you get sick while traveling? Who do you call? What are ways to minimize the financiaWhat do you do if you get sick while traveling? Who do you call? What are ways to minimize the financial damage | Sick While Traveling | Vertigo | vestibular neuritis |l damage | Sick While Traveling | Vertigo | vestibular neuritis |
Hot tub at the Anaheim Hilton, where much time was spent (photo taken before falling ill)

I slept most of the day while hubby called Delta and cancelled our flights, leaving our return trip open for when I would feel well enough to fly. He walked back and forth to the Alamo office begging a representative to come get our rental car out of the hotel valet.


See I am the only driver in our family  – in case you were wondering why hubby didn’t just throw me in the car, take us to San Diego and get us on the flight home.


Monday morning I woke up hopeful that  I would magically start to feel better. I had it in my head that maybe, just maybe, if I got up and moving I would start to feel okay.

At this point, I desperately needed to bathe. I was starting to smell and the odor was making me want to hurl. Hubby didn’t think this was a great idea, but he knew I wasn’t going to back down.

Hubby reluctantly helped me into the shower and I was thankful for the handicap bar in the stall. I wanted to get clean despite feeling worse with every minute I was standing.

Unfortunately, being upright trying to shower, I succumbed to the nausea. I came out of the shower and vomited. At this point, I was actually begging for the hospital trip my husband had been threatening me with.

In this time, I somehow managed to convince hubby that I could go to the emergency room via taxi instead of an ambulance. Waiting for the hotel security to come get me from the hotel room we all broke down and cried. This was getting scary, and I can’t believe that six days later I feel well enough to sit on my laptop, in my house, and type this all out. I am EXTREMELY thankful for that.

The hospital trip was a big blur. It felt like we were there for a few minutes, but hubby told me that I was in the ER for over six hours. I was transported via wheelchair from my hotel bed to the taxi, rode with a hotel towel over my head and a plastic bag in my hand in case I got sick.

The emergency room at UC Irvine Medical Center took me in right away. They started me on an IV of fluids with I believe some cocktail of meds thrown in for good measure.

This was Labor Day. I was discharged late in the afternoon and told to rest, keep up the eating and drinking, and to stop taking the diuretic the first doctor has prescribed. I honestly don’t remember even riding back to the hotel or going back up to the room.


Tuesday was more of a blur, but I do remember my lunch. By mid-morning I was begging my husband to go find me a real meal. I was finally hungry and feeling well enough to sit up at the desk and actually eat.

I had a Baja Fresh burrito bowl from the Anaheim Hilton food court, in case you were wondering.

That day, Tuesday, was supposed to be the kid’s first day of school. It was on that day, three days after our originally scheduled exit from Anaheim, that we decided it was time to look into options for finally flying home. At that point we knew the dizziness and nausea could linger for days, even weeks… it was time to just bite the bullet and try to get back to New York.


After over an hour on the phone with Delta and Chase rewards, we were booked on a flight out of LAX for noon the next day. With the time change, we would arrive in New York well past bedtime (for a school night) with summer homework still to be completed, school supplies bought but in need of labeling and sorting, and two kids who spent over a week sleeping past 8am PACIFIC TIME.

It felt like a comedy of errors.

But we powered through.


The cab ride to LAX took an hour and a half. Again I was armed with my plastic bag, although luckily I didn’t need it. I closed my eyes and kept my head still and made it through. Bumper-to-bumper traffic through LA felt like a fitting way to end this adventure.


The five-hour flight home was actually somewhat relaxing. Once I got through the airport (wheeled in a wheelchair, so embarrassing) and to my seat on the plane, I was able to pop some Valium and just sit still for the flight. I sat by myself, about seven rows ahead of my husband and kids. I watched slept some, barely moved, although I watched two movies en route.

The new Baywatch and Something About Mary in case you were wondering.


Thursday the kids finally started school, jetlagged, and armed with the story of their extended California adventures.

What do you do if you get sick while traveling? Who do you call? What are ways to minimize the financiaWhat do you do if you get sick while traveling? Who do you call? What are ways to minimize the financial damage | Sick While Traveling | Vertigo | vestibular neuritis |l damage | Sick While Traveling | Vertigo | vestibular neuritis |
Finally, the “first” day of school. September 7, 2017

Now it’s Sunday. I am feeling significantly better and the family is pretty much running on east coast time. I haven’t left my house since I arrived back (well except for my two doctors appointments) but at least I have the comforts of home. I visited a specialist here in New York, a dizziness expert, and he actually diagnosed me with Vestibular Neuritis, not vertigo. He took me off all the medication and told me I just need to allow time to pass for the dizziness to subside. He actually recommended I stay active. Frighteningly, this article from the Cleveland Clinic describes my experience to a T… its crazy!

I still can’t drive. That’s the next obstacle to feeling better. I can function around the house but have to pause and relax if I do too much. If I move my head too fast I feel dizzy and lightheaded. It feels like when you lift your head too quick, but it doesn’t go away unless I sit.


This is definitely my most craziest travel story to date. It feels good to get it out and write it down. Especially because it {seems to} have a happy ending. LA was a bit of a blur, but I do remember, multiple times, thinking “I never want to travel again” and how much I just wished I were home.

I’m sure I’ll be planning my next adventure soon, but I wonder if this experience will make me more cautious before journeying so far away again.


And of course the travel writer in me feels the need to report the facts and pass on what I learned through all this!

* This all took place at the Anaheim Hilton. The staff, especially Guest Services, were extremely accommodating to anything we needed. I am thankful we were able to stay there and that we did not need to relocate in the midst of all of this.

* Having a hotel doctor come to my room to see me was VERY EXPENSIVE. We had to pay out of pocket and hope our insurance will reimburse us. The hotel doctor’s party line is that he is cheaper than an ER visit, or an ambulance, but I ended up in the ER anyway. This was a complete game-time decision and in my case, I was actually misdiagnosed by the hotel doctor. What I actually have is only going to be diagnosed correctly by a specialist. I only started feeling better after the ER visit (probably because of the need for fluids). In retrospect I feel like I wasted two days when I could have been further along in my recovery, but I have to report that hotel doctors are a thing, and for others it might be the best option. For me, it is also a bit of  “Hindsight is 20/20”. NOTE: This doctor was not affiliated with the hotel, but a doctor who travels to see patients in area hotels.  I hope I am explaining this correctly.

* Delta, and the folks who helped us book our tickets from Chase Reserve, were amazing. They waived all of our change fees and we only had to pay the difference in fare for our new tickets home. When we cancelled our flights out of San Diego, they were able to credit us and keep our itinerary open so we could book flights when we had a better sense of when I could travel. Here though, having the doctor note (on a prescription pad) stating that I was medically UNABLE to travel, also helped. If something like this happens to you, get a doctors note… it can only help with negotiating refunds.

* Alamo Rent-A-Car was very helpful with getting our vehicle returned in Anaheim (it was supposed to be dropped off at the San Diego International Airport). I almost cried when I realized the car must have went back on an empty tank – and what the bill for the gas will be… which leads me to my next point…

* This is the stuff we keep money in the bank for. And I am talking in the literal sense. I can’t wait to write a post about all the travel hacking we did this year to keep the costs of this California trip minimal, but obviously no one budgets for 3 extra nights in a hotel, emergency medical treatments and everything else associated with me being sick. A good reminder of why I am a saver, and like to have that cushion. It sucks to think of all the other trips we could have done with that money, but at the same time, I am thankful – SUPER THANKFUL – I was financially able to ride it out a bit in LA and to get the treatment I needed.


Which now leads me to my next thought – travel insurance? So good or no good? Not sure what would have helped us in this case. But definitely something I will be researching for future trips.

300 x 250: Confirmation - Don’t Forget

So there we have it. Camp is over, summer vacation is ended, and we are back home where we belong. Hoping soon to feel 100% back to normal.

So I can start planning our next trip.


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What do you do if you get sick while traveling? Who do you call? What are ways to minimize the financiaWhat do you do if you get sick while traveling? Who do you call? What are ways to minimize the financial damage | Sick While Traveling | Vertigo | vestibular neuritis |l damage | Sick While Traveling | Vertigo | vestibular neuritis |

Have you ever fall ill on the road? Had to extend a stay for an unforeseen circumstance? And what are your thoughts on travel insurance?

Photo credit: brettneilson via VisualHunt.com / CC BY

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61 Comments to “When Sickness Strikes… On the Road”

  1. How scary! No one expects to get sick on a trip, so this is a good post to help us understand what are options possibly are. We sometimes get travel insurance for our Disney trips, but now I may think about it a little more for other trips. I’m glad you’re starting to feel better!

  2. Oh my goodness. You and your family must have been so scared! I’m so sorry you had to go through all this. I really hope that you have a speedy recovery at home.

    Regarding travel insurance….we buy it every time we go out of the country or on a cruise. I did have to use it once when I got sick on a cruise (nasty ear and sinus infection). The cost of the insurance was only 1/3 of the cost of my medical bill that was covered, so I feel like it was worth it. I will get it every time we leave the country, but so far we haven’t gotten insurance on domestic trips. Maybe we should.

    1. harmskills Author

      I know, I think the older we get (unfortunately) the more we will look into this. Havent cruised in a while, but yeah cruises with all the connections etc, seem like a natural place to get insurance. Im sure there will be more MTG discussion about this!

  3. My jaw was on the floor reading this post – you are one strong lady! I’ve never given much thought to dealing with an illness while traveling and how to handle it/prepare, but this post made me rethink how I travel. I hope you start feeling much better soon xoxo Sending you all of the good vibes!

  4. This sounds like a nightmare. I am so sorry you and your family had to go through this. I have had dizzy spells before too and it is so scary. Mine usually happen when I wake up. I can’t imagine feeling like that for days!

  5. Oh my gosh!! What a travel story to tell! I am so happy you made it home with minimal issues. Happy you are feeling better and happy you are writing again!! Can’t wait to read about the rest of your journey. ❤️

  6. What an awful trip! I wish I had known you guys because your kids could have totally came over to play with my daughter while you were resting, we are less than 20 minutes from Disneyland and she loves making new friends. I’m so glad you’re on the mend!

  7. Getting sick during vacation sucks. I’ve encountered it many many times. At least Disneyland isn’t the worst place to become ill. It sounds like the rest of your fam did a fine job of occupying their time. Also, I don’t think vertigo is something that goes away forever. My aunt has it and she usually gets symptoms after flying anywhere.

  8. Wow, what an experience. Hopefully you are feeling better now! Our son was sick for 5 days on our recent trip through Ireland and Iceland. ON day 1 we thought it was carsickness due to the windy roads in Ireland, but after 3 days of being sick we started to get worried. We never thought to ask the hotel if there was a traveling doctor! Sorry you had to go through this, but it looks like the kids still had a great time!

  9. It’s the worst feeling when you become sick while traveling, it’s happened to me a few times and it’s honestly a rare a time when I really miss home…No matter where I am or how comfortable I am there, when I’m sick I just want to be in my bed. I understand just how you felt 🙁

  10. I fell ill in Cambodia – a couple days in – in Siem Reap. I’m pretty sure it was from the food; and it was a salad, too! Ugh. The major part of it lasted about 2 days and then it tapered off. I still made it through to see all of the temples though – because we had paid in advance and there was no other time to see it – so I trudged through. I still can’t believe I was able to do that! I was in pretty rough shape.

  11. I felt so sad for you as I read this post. I am prone to extreme motion sickness, so I have to be extremely careful while traveling. I am so glad that you are feeling better and I hope you don’t have to experience this again!

  12. This must’ve been such a scary experience. I’m so lucky that I’ve never been seriously sick or hurt on a vacation. I’m glad Delta was willing to work with you to reschedule your flights without the exorbitant rebooking fees.

  13. That’s a terrible thing to happen while on a trip. I’ve experienced minor illness twice while taking long hours flight and thankfully I was able to pull up myself to continue our trip. It’s good to know that you and the family made home safe despite of what happened. You can always plan you next trip and make it up to your kids. 🙂

  14. Wow that’s a CRAZY story. I can only imagine how terrifying it is to not be able to stand and do what you need to do. I was sick for the first three days of my honeymoon (fever, nausea, etc. because of stress), so I know how miserable it is to not be able to enjoy your vacation! Blah! Glad you’re feeling better, though!

  15. Oh my, you went though so much. Sorry to read this. I have been dehydrated a few times but nothing like this.

    I hope you are fully recovered now.

    Once my Husband was ill and needed to go to Doctors once and I could not drive him I had not driven for years. That was one of the things that spurned me on to drive again in case he needs me. Along with all my Daughters hospital appointments lately whilst my husband was at work.

  16. OH so scary! This is one of my biggest fears when travelling. We did end up in an ER in North Conway NH when my son was just a baby but thankfully we have usually been blessed with good health otherwise. Happy to hear you are doing so much better.

  17. I’m glad you are feeling better! I always buy travel insurance when I go anywhere outside of Canada, even for an afternoon of cross-border shopping. You never know what might happen. I’m glad you were well looked after and prepared for what may happen.

  18. Xin

    ohnooo! so sorry to hear you fell sick on your travels! nobody ever expects that! hopefully by the time this is on the grand ol’ internets, sickness is long behind you.
    btw im 28 and still love me a Disney birthday. >_<! hahahah!

  19. I’m a mother of four and this article reminded of all the times, over the years, when I was so sick, but had no choice but to try and function. Your illness was one step further and very serious (you couldn’t have functioned even when you had to). How scary!

  20. Wow, that’s crazy. It’s good you were in a nice hotel with a pool and not stuck in a inn or motel for that long period of time. I get vertigo pretty easily and know what it’s like. Hopefully this doesn’t happen in future vacations.

  21. Oh my goodness. I’m so sorry this happened to you. I would take pain any day over being nauseous and throwing up. Of course ti would happen too while you were on a trip. So happy you are on the mend and that even when traveling, things will eventually work out. #WeekendWanderlust

  22. Oh my goodness!! I am SO sorry this happened to you. That is scary. Glad you are home safe and mending though. Will be keeping you in my thoughts! It’s good to know the hotel was so accommodating. If we ever need a hotel in Anaheim I will be sure to reach out to them.


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