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Travel Fever is a Real Disease — And Not a Pleasant Kind!

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Finns have a saying: ‘Loyal workers always get sick on holidays.’ It’s not just an urban legend. Travel fever is a real disease; A Dutch study says 3 % get sick just before or during vacation.

That said, greetings from a snot storm less than two days before departure.


All my life I’ve felt lucky to be healthy. I think one-hand fingers are enough to count the times I would have been so sick that I couldn’t have got out of the bed at all.

Although a few years ago, when I was living in Spain, I noticed a weird phenomenon. Every single time I was about to go for a holiday back home to Finland, I suffered from a really annoying flu that started just a few days before my vacation. Yep, you read it right; it happened in Spain. In a country where the coldest winter day meant sunshine and +25 degrees. A weird phenomenon indeed.

It kept happening time after time. I guess it was somewhere around the third prior-to-vacation-flu when my unique but very smart and, unfortunately, after the tragic event last summer my late boss told me he knows what my flu is all about.

Travel fever. That wretched devil. ‘Travel fever’ is a term that, at least in Finland, is normally used to describe the feeling when you’re longing for a holiday somewhere far, far away from home. Unfortunately, I tend towards the miserable version of travel fever. The one that appears as the nasty flu and fever just before I’m about to start my holiday.

It happened every single time in Spain when I was about to fly back home for a vacation, and it happened again now when I have less than two days left before I’m supposed to fly for a hiking holiday to Mallorca.


Travel fever symptoms: nasty flu and fever just before or during the holiday!


My beloved travel companion Teea from Curious Feet travel blog, with whom I’m supposed to share hotel rooms and the tiny rental car for the following five days, is most likely reading this post right now jumping of joy. I really hope that this travel fever with its satanic symptoms disappear before our flight to Mallorca takes off.

However, in some sick way, I get the pleasure of knowing that I’m not the only one who suffers from this type of travel fever. A Dutch study states that 1 in 30 people get sick either just before or during their holiday. The reason is pretty simple: the lowering of stress levels. With some people, like me, the body reacts to the approaching holiday by bursting out all stress-poisons in the form of snot, sneezing and coughing.

Sexy? Not one bit. Necessary? For sure.


“The body is constantly producing the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol which regulate the vascular system, alertness and our sleep cycle. They can also dull perceptions of pain – meaning that any illness is less likely to be noticed – and suppress the immune system. — The weeks before we go on holiday are notoriously stressful. Cortisol and adrenaline levels spike, so the moment we relax, our immune systems are at a low ebb, and we are highly susceptible to bugs.”

Source: Daily Mail – Why do you always get ill on holiday


I can’t say my job in Spain would have been too stressful. Back then, my stress was more emotional. After all, I was living in another country while my boyfriend was still living in Finland, not to forget my family, friends and my beloved cat babies. The approaching holiday meant that I would finally see the people (and animals) I love the most for a long time.

This time I admit my stress is work-related. The whole autumn has been such a huge survival story for me, day after day and week after week. I’ve simply taken way too much work on my shoulders, but as a freelancer, it’s sometimes very difficult to say no when there is work available.

I’ve been working under pressure from very early mornings until late nights, without any time for exercise. There are times that I’ve realised I haven’t stepped outside even to get the mail for a full week. I’ve had breakfast at 2 pm if I’ve remembered. Sometimes I’ve decided to skip the whole breakfast/lunch as I still haven’t felt hungry and it’s been so late I might as well wait for the dinner time. I suppose it’s no surprise my body is now trying to tell me to take it easy for a change.


So, what are the symptoms of travel fever?

It all starts with small sniffle that feels like a typical stuffy morning nose. Within a few hours, you’ll realise the snot doesn’t stop, exactly the opposite; It keeps increasing. You decide to check the temperature just to prove it’s all imagination, but the thermometer disagrees. Sh*t.

This type of travel fever is anything but a pleasant kind. Especially because this stress-lowering disease makes me stress whether I’ll get better before the take-off. Add here a pile of articles that still need to be written ready for publication before I can start my holiday, which means there’s really no time for being sick. What a horrifying combination.

So, greetings to Teea and the hiking trails of Mallorca. I’m all open to great suggestions how to beat this travel fever. If I have to find something positive, at least I have a reason to triple my daily dose of garlic (I love garlic). Another blogger friend suggested I should try the traditional Finnish old-school trick, booze socks, where you soak your socks in strong alcohol and wear them over the night under dry woolly socks. I wonder if it could help?


Who else admits belonging to the unfortunate group of 3% getting travel fever just before or during their holiday?

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This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. I found your post wondering what this is. I have been getting a fever always in the same week I’m travelling. It’s exhausting and the worst time. Now I need to add A doctor’s appointment to my crazy week, because I’m at the snotty part, but this is the third fever in 3 months . All in which were before I travelled. The whole year, nothing .

    1. Congratulations, you’re one of the 3 percent who has this unfortunate disease! 😂 Have you figured out a way to cope with it?

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