Sickness on the Road: A How-To Guide

Sicknesses are like dreams, in that everyone wants to tell you about theirs, but you as the listener feel like you’re getting your ears slowly and boringly punched. The ins-and-outs of a body breaking down are interesting in the same way that desert succulents or proper lathe technique are. Not really.

Let me tell you about mine.

I recently got laid up for a week or so with a bacterial infection, bed-bound and sweating bullets. We were at the top of Argentina at the time, trying to move South, but little Fishy’s rig was saying ‘woah there sailor’.

Having had a stellar record of illness thus far in the trip, I wasn’t prepared for the fallout. But having lived it and come out the other side, I feel like I’m in the perfect position to coach you little travel tackers in the fine art of travel sickness.

The only surviving prof of sick Fishy - too fucked to look out the window at the pretty stuff.
The only surviving proof of sick Fishy – too fucked to look out the window at the pretty stuff.

Fetch pen and paper, friends, it’s study time.


Complain. You’re sick! People need to know. How do you expect to be showered in sympathy if no one realises you are pretty much on your deathbed? Even if you’re not pretty much on your deathbed.

Physical cues are your friend here, as it gives the impression that you’re far too crook to talk. Try craning your neck back and shaking your head side-to-side. For more skilful practitioners, a wayward leg that allows for a floor foot-tap can show the audience that you’re not fully in control of your faculties.

Refuse to converse in the local tongue. Seeing a doctor about delivering your last rites? Don’t speak their language, friends! How else will they know that you’re a mysterious wanderlust traveller that has a way better life than them?

If they continue to yabber in whatever non-English they please, just talk in English louder and slower! If you slowly yell your symptoms into their face, you’re sure to get your point across!

Get others involved. In an 8-bed dorm? Terrific. That’s a whole 7 other people that you can forcefully invite into your swamp of self-pity. It’s gunna be an absolute pity party in there!

I'm sorry Fishy, it's terminal. Also we shaved your head
I’m sorry Fishy, it’s terminal. Also we shaved your head

Your bunk-mate is your first port of call, as a well-shaken bed will get them involved from the get-go. A light groan from time to time will get the bunks nearest to you entangled, and for those suckers in the back corner – don’t think they’re missing out on the action! A disgusted throw of an empty water bottle will comfortably reach these drifters, while also showing that you’ve had it up to here with this!


Go quietly. Let’s face it, you could be enduring your last moments on God’s green earth. Do you want to leave quietly whimpering in the corner? Are you a man or are you a mouse??

Shout this shit from the rooftops guys! I’m talking using every one of those octaves your up-until-now sterling constitution owns. Pick a musical number that stretches the lengths of your vocal capabilities then convert it to long, unhealthy groans. From the warbling depths of a Barry White number to the screeching highs of an impassioned Meatloaf, no song in the history of music is out-of-bounds to your attention grabbing moan-conversion.

Take medical advice too seriously. When you think about it, are doctors really that much more knowledgeable than you? You’re a smart cat!

Like a fortune cookie, take your doctor’s advice with a grain of salt. They might think they’re onto the cause of your suffering, but it’s far more likely that you’ve got a disease that hasn’t been documented before, and no-one has ever experienced the pain you currently are!

Look at these chumps. Literally no clue. They're playing 'arse or elbow' and failing massively.
Look at these chumps. Literally no clue. They’re playing ‘arse or elbow’ and failing massively.

Wind it up early. Feeling a bit better? No one has to know. As far as your audience goes, a 90% healthy operator should be indistinguishable from a 5% healthy one. If you’re crook you’re crook, and the degrees within don’t matter in the slightest!

This is your time to shine. Take a page out of a rock-star’s playbook. You think that last little tune was actually their last? Hell no, they’re coming back for 3 encores. Treat your audience to a performance that is as moving as it is never-ending.

There you have it team. Having been there, I can personally vouch for this set rules as a form of travel sickness gospel.

So get out there and spread the good news! I know it’s tempting to lick a bin just so you can test them out, and who am I to stop you?!

Much love and happy sickness,


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