Skip to Content

5 Tips to Avoid Altitude Sickness

Share with a friend

Got a pounding headache? It might not be from all those margaritas and/or beer you drank last night. Especially if you’re at high elevation. High elevation isn’t limited to Mt. Everest. Did you know that Santa Fe, New Mexico is almost the same elevation as Machu Picchu? Here are 5 tips to avoid altitude sickness, how to recognize the signs of altitude sickness, and what to do if you  have altitude sickness.

You might have read Tips to Avoid Altitude Sickness. But that was four years ago so it’s time for an update.

Altitude sickness can affect you at elevations as low as 5,000 feet. Here are 5 tips to avoid altitude sickness.

Signs of Altitude Sickness

Altitude sickness is sneaky. You might know you’re suffering from the affects. I suffer from altitude sickness so I’m very familiar with the signs and symptoms.

Altitude sickness can affect anyone including Olympic athletes. Being fit and in shape has nothing doesn’t matter. So here’s how to recognize the signs of altitude sickness:

  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fatigue and/or loss of energy
  • Difficulty sleeping

You can take Acetazolamide (Diamox) 1-2 days before your trip. If you can’t get a prescription for Diamox, Ibuprofen also helps.

Chewing cocoa leaves also helps. (even The Pope does it). But this it’s totally illegal. And not like illegal in 24 states and legal in 26.

If Diamox and cocoa leaves aren’t an option, here are 5 tips to avoid altitude sickness.

Tips to Avoid Altitude Sickness

1.   Acclimate

Give your body time to adjust to the new altitude. Especially if you’re coming from a much lower elevation.

You can acclimate by arriving at your designation several days early. Start off at a lower elevation.

So if you’re going to skying in Colorado, stay a few days in Denver before you drive up to the mountains. Or spend a few days in Lima before heading to Machu Picchu.

2.   Take it Easy

But if you’re not a Rolling Stone and time isn’t on your side, then be like the Eagles and take it easy.

Get plenty of rest, when you can. It’s okay to just say no. Nancy did it all the time.

3.  Hydrate

Start drinking. And drink as much as you can. By drinking, I mean water.

The air is drier at a higher elevation so you should drink twice a much water.

4.  Avoid Caffeine and Alcohol

“Wait, what? But those are my two favorite things?”

Yep, sorry Charlie. Because you want to hydrate at a high elevation not dehydrate, you should skip caffeine and alcohol.

5.  Eat Carbs

But there’s saving grace. If you have to give up caffeine and alcohol, at least you still get to keep your carbs.

So go ahead and eat that donut. Or for a healthier choice go with whole grains, brown rice, cereal, bread, fruit, and vegetables.

What to Do If You Have Altitude Sickness

If you start developing signs of several altitude sickness, HAPE (High Altitude Pulmonary Edema), or HACE (High Altitude Cerebral Edema):

  • Shortness of breath
  • Swelling of feet, arms, legs
  • Chest tightness
  • Cough
  • Coughing up blood
  • Cyanosis (skin turns blue – think pre-Violet Beauregarde)

see a doctor immediately.


You can get altitude sickness even at elevations as low as 5,000 feet. Altitude sickness can affect anyone, even Olympic athletes.

Commons symptoms include headache, loss of appetite and difficulty sleeping.

These 5 tips can help you avoid altitude sickness: acclimate, take it easy, hydrate, avoid caffeine and alcohol, and eat carbs.

Severe symptoms of altitude sickness include shortness of breath and swelling in your feet, legs, and arms. If you develop severe symptoms, see a doctor immediately.

Have you suffered from altitude sickness? What tips do you use to prevent altitude sickness?

Comment, tweet, or share this post.

Get the best credit card bonuses.

Follow us on Twitter | Facebook | Pinterest | Instagram | YouTube

Got a question? Or want help, suggestions, travel tips, learn how to travel for free, find out about travel deals, and maximize your miles and points? Use the subscription box below to sign-up and get post updates by email.

Traveling Well For Less has partnered with Your Best Credit Cards for our coverage of credit card products. Traveling Well For Less and YBCC may receive a commission from card issuers.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is the best card to get started in the world of miles and points. It is the first card you should get to start traveling for free because the welcome offer is 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first three months.
My favorite perks about this card are earning 5X points on travel when booked through the Chase portal (2X if direct purchase), 3X points on dining, $50 yearly credit on hotels booked through the Chase portal, no foreign transaction fees, and transferring points to 13 airline and hotel partners like Hyatt, United, and Southwest.

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

The Chase Freedom Unlimited® is one of my favorite cards for earning cash back card and travel rewards. It offers a welcome offer of an additional 1.5% cash back on all your purchases up to $20,000 your first year.
My favorite perks about this card are earning 5% cash back on travel booked through the Chase Travel Portal, 3% cash back at drugstores and restaurants (including delivery and takeout), 1.5% cash back on all other purchases and no annual fee. When paired with cards like the Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card or Ink Business Cash® Credit Card, you can use your points to travel for free.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.