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Sick in the Saddle: Managing Health on the Road

Before departing on an extended motorcycle trip, I usually ask the touring gods for two things: perfect weather and perfect health. Although a rain suit can largely mitigate any inclement weather, feeling sick while riding a motorcycle is not only no fun, it’s potentially dangerous. Unfortunately, if you tour long enough, it’s likely that an illness will strike while you’re traveling. The following are some suggestions for preventing and/or managing sick in the saddle.

Preventative Measures: Like motorcycle maintenance, preventative health measures are always preferable to corrective ones. Here are several suggestions for both:

  • Don’t leave home if you’re already feeling ill

  • Bring appropriate gear for possible inclement, cold, or hot weather

  • Eat healthy on the road

  • Pack over-the-counter medications, such as pain relievers, allergy pills, laxatives and other remedies for minor ailments

  • Pack and take any prescription medications

  • Drink copious amount of fluids daily, especially water

  • In mountainous environments, give your body a few days to acclimate to high altitude before beginning the ride

  • Get adequate rest

  • In third world countries, avoid leafy vegetables, unpurified water, and any other questionable foods or drinks

Managing Illness on the Road: Once you become ill on a road trip, it’s important to have a strategy for dealing with it effectively and safely:

  • Have relevant health information for: drug allergies, prescription medication, physician phone numbers at home, medical insurance cards, etc.

  • Seek immediate medical attention for anything worse than a minor ailment

  • Have necessary phone numbers and other information in case subsequent reservations need to be rescheduled

  • If at all possible, don’t make your condition worse by trying to “tough it out” and continuing to ride

  • Eat bland foods and consume large quantities of liquids

  • Let your body rest and recover

  • Don’t be reluctant to ask strangers for help if it becomes necessary

  • Always make your health and well being your first priority

What has been your experience with being sick in the saddle?

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