Getting Sick Before a Disney Vacation?

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Getting sick before vacation can derail months of planning and saving. You’re just about to pack up the car for a long-awaited and expensive Disney World or Disneyland vacation, and suddenly one set of sniffles turn into three serious colds. What can you do at the last minute?

Getting Sick Before Vacation

We asked our readers on our Facebook page for suggestions regarding getting sick before a vacation, and they had tons of home remedies and plus over-the-counter standards for a pre-trip pick me up. We’ve listed them in alphabetical order.

Home Remedies

Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is simply vinegar made from the fermented and unstrained juice of apples that have been crushed. This highly acidic liquid contains a large concentration of vitamin C, fiber, and acids that many believe will boost immunity while breaking up congestion found with colds.

You can add a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to a glass of water, possibly with lemon juice, to help alkalinize the body. Creating an alkaline environment helps kill bacteria and viruses. You should start drinking this at the first signs of illness; repeat several times a day until your symptoms subside.

This product could work before and during a cold.


Elderberry Syrup

Elderberries have been used untold years as both medicine and in food. They are thought to reduce symptoms of upper respiratory infections, plus prevent/shorten the duration of herpes outbreaks as well as decrease pain and inflammation. Researchers indicate people who have taken elderberries have higher levels of antibodies against the influenza virus, showing that not only can the berry treat flu symptoms, it may also be able to prevent the influenza infection itself.

Elderberry-based supplements, commonly found in the form of gummies, lozenges, pills, teas, and syrups, are believed to work by supplying the body with antioxidants and boosting natural immune responses.

This product could work before and during a cold.

Eucalyptus Oil

Eucalyptus essential oil is widely regarded to contain antiviral, antibacterial, and antimicrobial properties. It has historically been used to treat the common cold, viruses and respiratory issues like bronchitis. Eucalyptus can be used to create a cool compress to reduce fevers.

To create a mixture for inhaling the oil, simply add 10-15 drops to a bowl of boiling water.

Many people often blend the eucalyptus oil together with coconut oil and rub it on the chest like you would Vick’s. Just leave it on overnight.

This product could work during your cold.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C has been promoted since the 1970s as having the ability to reduce cold severity and duration, even if it doesn’t seem to prevent colds.

You can take Vitamin C in pill form or drink vitamin enriched orange and fruit juices.

Several OTC products also contain megadoses of Vitamin C plus other ingredients.

Increasing your Vitamin C would work during your cold.


Airborne contains 17 herbs and nutrients including vitamins A, C and E, riboflavin, magnesium, zinc, selenium, manganese, sodium, potassium, amino acids, plus an herbal extract blend containing echinacea, maltodextrin, and forsythia. The airborne supplement is intended to help you ward off colds and the flu by boosting your immune system when you are exposed to large groups of people.


The main ingredient in Emergen-C is vitamin C, which helps boost immunity, but it also contains a lot of other ingredients.

  • Folic acid supports amino acid production.
  • Manganese supports an overall immune system.
  • Vitamin B-6 helps metabolize red blood cells and fats and supports a healthy nervous system.
  • Vitamin B-12 may help create red blood cells, which move oxygen around the body. It may also help metabolize food to create energy.
  • Zinc also helps boost immunity.

Airborne and Emergen-C both contain 1000 mg of Vitamin C, which means both products can work for prevention when taken once a day.

When you are feeling sick, you can take Airborne up to three times daily, which makes Airborne a better choice once illness sets in.

**Some tips to remember are that not everyone benefits from taking Vitamin C, and for some people, the daily use of Vitamin C can contribute to kidney stones.


Most colds are caused by a type of virus called rhinovirus, which will thrive and multiply in the nasal passages and throat, typically the area referred to as your upper respiratory system. Zinc is thought to prevent the rhinovirus from multiplying and lodging in the mucous membranes of the throat and nose.

Zinc helps treat but not prevent a cold. Taking zinc within 24 hours of the start of symptoms, and continuing to take it as long as your cold continues, may help shorten a cold’s duration by approximately 33 percent.

This product could work during your cold.

Getting Sick Before Vacation: Medications

Our readers suggested many over the counter medications that can help you feel better when you’re getting sick before a vacation. 

Many people attribute sinus pressure to an increase in mucus blocking airways. Increased mucus is a symptom of the common cold, but that’s not always what makes you feel so stuffed up. Sinus congestion can also be associated with the swelling of the tissues in the nose known as inflammation, which shrinks your airways.

Advil Cold & Sinus combines a strong decongestant, opening your airways, with the power of Advil, to relieve pain commonly associated with sinus pressure.

Advil Cold and Sinus is made for adults and not recommended for children under the age of 12. 

This product could work during your cold.

Dimetapp is an OTC medicine taken to relieve symptoms of the common cold, containing an antihistamine called brompheniramine and a decongestant called phenylephrine. Dimetapp is designed to help relieve children’s cough as well as cold and allergy symptoms, like runny and stuffy noses, sneezing, itchy and watery eyes, and coughs. 

You should not use this product in children under the age of six. 

This product could work during your child’s cold.



Unlike other cold medicines that only mask cold symptoms, homeopathic Zicam cold remedy products are clinically proven to shorten colds when taken at the first symptoms. They are the number one pharmacist recommended brand. In addition to cold remedies, Zicam also offers a wide range of products for homeopathic allergy relief, homeopathic cold relief for kids, nasal congestion, and sinus relief.

Zicam comes in a variety of forms including lozenges, medicated fruit drops, nasal swabs, original and ultra Rapidmelts, and nasal spray. 

This product could work during adult or children’s colds.

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Mucinex offers so many cold remedies, they have an online tool to determine which products will help relieve adult or children’s symptoms.

Simply click on all the symptoms you have for your desired age group, and the Mucinex tool will suggest a medicine to suit your needs.

Their multitude of products could work during adult or children’s colds.

If you have a humidifier, take that along on vacation with you as well. Humidifiers help you breathe easier. Common flu symptoms such as a runny nose, sinus congestion, coughing, and a sore throat often make breathing feel like work.

Humidifiers help moisturize your nasal, throat, and lung passages, making it easier for air to pass through.


Hand sanitizers can also keep germs from spreading, especially when you can’t get to a sink to actually wash your hands or the kid’s hands.

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It’s not necessarily the end of all your long-awaited Disney plans if you get a cold before a vacation. Lots of parents recommend trying these cold various remedies. Many illnesses are minor enough that you can soldier on and turn lemon flavored cough drops into Disney frozen lemonade.

But when should you just stay home?

A fever over 100 means you risk infecting other people.

Chest pains or difficulty breathing could be signs of serious and life-threatening conditions, so these symptoms should never be taken lightly.

If you are feeling under the weather, try to take your whole family out of the contagious loop for a day or two. Once you make it through the first day or two of an illness, you’ll probably be ready to head out on your vacation, even if everyone isn’t feeling 100 percent quite yet.

Sick Before Vacation: Cancellation

Depending on your type of reservation, you have several options:

  1. cancel online
  2. call the Disney Reservation Center for assistance
  3. call your travel agent and have them do the canceling

For #1, sign in to your Disney account, go to My Reservations, where you will see your reservation listed. If it can be canceled online, you’ll see a link for “Cancel Reservation.”

For #2, if your reservation can only be canceled by phone, you’ll see a message indicating you need to call (407) 934-7639. Guests under the age of 18 need to have a parent or guardian’s permission to call.

Be aware that cancelation fees may apply.

We always make the following good neighbor suggestion. You wouldn’t want to get a cold or flu from someone super contagious on vacation, so show your Main Street neighbors the same respect you would like for your group if you start getting sick before a vacation.

Use this link to see how to have items shipped directly to your resort: Shipping Groceries to Your Disney World Resort.

Thanks for stopping by, and we’ll see you washing your hands at every opportunity and crossing your fingers against a cold or the flu.

Amanda, Disney’s Cheapskate Princess

To see more of our Cheapskating Guides, use this link.


Mike Ellis

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