So, you’ve planned a trip and you’re on your way! There’s nothing more exciting than a fresh adventure and new experiences. Perhaps you’re walking down the Champs-Élysées or taking a dive into the Mediterranean Sea…and then it strikes. You start to feel sluggish, perhaps you have a cough, maybe it’s food poisoning or even a fever. There’s no mistaking it – you are sick! Oh no! There may be no worse feeling than getting sick while you’re abroad. Without the comforts of home and doctors you know, it can be quite dreadful, even scary. Of course, while no one wishes to become ill during a vacation, it’s always best to plan ahead – just in case! Below, you’ll find some helpful tips should you find yourself anything other than homesick.
Check Your Travel Insurance Ahead of Time
Does your insurance policy cover you should you get sick abroad? If so, what kind of coverage do you have? It’s helpful to make note of this before you embark on any foreign adventures. Be sure to bring copies of your insurance cards as well, should you need them. Never assume you’re covered – usually you’re not or the coverage is limited. If you don’t have travel insurance, there are plenty of companies that offer specific packages tailored to travelers! In fact, you can get insurance one trip at a time with some agencies. Definitely look into your options – especially if you plan on being out of the country for an extended period of time.
Pack a First-Aid Kit
Again, it’s not something many people do because no one wants to think about being sick on vacation…but, being prepared is better than not! If you’re prone to motion-sickness, be sure to pack that Dramamine! Other helpful things to have on hand may include bandages, Pepto-Bismol, Tums, aspirin, cough drops, etc. Neosporin is like gold in Costa Rica. Of course, if you suffer from severe allergies you’ll definitely want to have an EpiPen. Don’t assume that the place you’re going will have these things should you need them – if a fever strikes during a Spanish siesta, you won’t want to wait till shops open up again!
Stay Hydrated and Keep Calm
When I traveled to Rome, a city known for its delicious eats, I suffered from awful food poisoning. It struck me quite suddenly and it ended up lasting for hours. I couldn’t keep anything down and I felt super weak – it was awful! Fortunately, I didn’t need to seek medical attention but I was sure to keep hydrated – especially the day after. As sick as you may feel, your body relies on you for fuel and energy. Don’t neglect it! It’s easy to get caught up in your adventures while traveling; hours may pass before you take a break to rest. Always have a bottle or two of water on you; even better, invest in a reusable bottle to bring with you (just make sure the tap is safe in the country or city you’re in!).
Seek Local Care and Learn the Lingo
For every place that you travel to, do a quick search to locate the nearest Urgent Care centers and hospitals. Should you twist your ankle, or worse, you won’t want to spend time figuring out where to go for help. Keep a piece of paper handy or make a note on your phone with the address and numbers of nearby medical centers, in case of an emergency! On that note, also be sure to know the country’s phone number equivalent for “9-1-1.” Also, if you’re traveling to a place where the majority of folks don’t speak your native language, be sure to learn the local lingo for words like “hospital”, “doctor”, and “emergency.”
There’s an App for That
Of course, in today’s world, there’s an app for everything, including useful medical apps for travelers! Before you jet off to your next location, download one or two helpful apps on your phone. These include, but aren’t limited to, “Help Call”, “iTriage”, and “TravelSmart.” From helping you find the nearest hospital to setting up appointments on your phone, these apps make it easy to get the help you need quickly.
Contact the Embassy
If you find yourself in a dire emergency situation, you should contact your country’s embassy. Of course, it’s best to make note of where your country’s embassy is if you need serious help. While the embassy can be an incredible resource, it’s best to contact them only if the situation warrants it and you can’t find another viable option.
As many precautions as you may take to stay healthy during a trip, sickness can catch you when you least expect it. While it can be a true bummer to become sick during vacation, it can at least help a bit when you and the ones you’re with are properly prepared! Of course, we wish you nothing but safe and healthy travels!