How to Navigate Getting Sick While Traveling
We all look forward to vacations. Especially, when they involve taking a long-awaited trip to a dream destination. Nonetheless, once in a lifetime, getting sick while traveling is something that could occur and disrupt your plans.
If you’re planning your next trip and want to be precautious in case of falling ill, you may have several questions in mind. For instance:
- Does your health insurance offer international coverage?
- What makes a good travel health insurance?
- What should you pack in case of an emergency?
- How do you find a doctor?
Today, we’ll cover all of them. Ready? Let’s dive in.
Getting Sick While Traveling: What to Do
In certain situations, getting sick far away from home can make you feel vulnerable.
In addition to feeling unwell, you may not know how to find a doctor, not understand local protocols, and not speak the local language. And if you’re traveling solo, you’ll probably have no one to take care of you. This is why, before traveling, it’s essential to be well-informed so you can make quick decisions without panicking. Additionally, you should take precautions before you reach your destination.
For starters, some health insurances don’t cover medical treatment while you’re abroad. For example, if you’re American, Medicare doesn’t offer assistance overseas, not even if it’s an emergency. Therefore, make sure you check with your coverage provider before departing. It may be necessary for you to hire travel insurance.
Moreover, medical coverage is a requirement for entry into some countries. There will be differences in the required value from place to place, so check local regulations before purchasing it.
Generally, the best travel insurance plans provide coverage for medical expenses of about $150,000 per person. Plus, they cover travel expenses if you have to interrupt or extend your stay due to illness.
What to Pack
Once you purchase your coverage, you’ll get a voucher with:
- Your policy number
- Contact information in case of an emergency
Keep it handy, as it will be vital to seek medical care during your trip. Especially if you have a condition that may require specific treatment, it’s advisable to prepare a set of documents containing:
- Your vaccination history
- Information on any past surgeries
- Allergy information
- Blood type
- Anything else that may be relevant in an emergency
You could create a folder with all of these documents and keep a copy on:
- Your phone, so you can access them even if you don’t have access to the internet
- The cloud, so you can have access to it everywhere you are, even if you lose your phone
Nevertheless, having a hard copy on paper is also a good idea. Thus, you’ll make sure that you and the doctors will be able to access your medical record regardless of the circumstances.
Last but not least, it’s also important to note that prescription-free medications available at pharmacy counters vary from one country to another. If you’ll need medication during your trip, take it with you.
While You’re Abroad
In the best-case scenario, you wouldn’t get sick.
So here are some tips that can help you stay healthy during your trip:
- Drink bottled water, since tap water may be unfit for consumption in your destination
- Eat food that has been fully cooked and is served hot
- Prevent bug bites by using insect repellents
- Wear sunscreen, especially in places with high temperatures
- Wash your hands and use hand sanitizer regularly
If You Get Sick
However, if you happen to get sick and need medical assistance, you should contact your travel insurance right away. That way, you can be well-informed on how to proceed without going through any extra expenses. For example, if you google a local doctor and book an appointment with them, your health insurance may not refund you for it. Hence, it’s better to call first and know what their protocol is. Oftentimes they’ll assign you a doctor or give you a list of local professionals they work with.
After you’ve received medical care, ask the doctor that treated you for:
- An itemized bill with all your medical costs
- A report of your symptoms
These documents will be key if you need to file an insurance claim later on.
After two years of strict travel restrictions and massive lockdowns, traveling is possible again. As COVID is still part of our everyday lives, some destinations have more travel requirements than others. But still, it’s great to be able to explore the world again.
However, you could get sick while traveling. And being cautious is key to making sure that you’ll be able to make the most out of your trip without interruptions.
Want to get tested for COVID-19 before your next trip? No matter where you are, or what type of test you need, find testing locations near you with our international directory.