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Bites, Burns, and Booboos…Yikes! Here’s What to Do When You Get Sick While Traveling Abroad

Written by Tasmiah Rashid

This blog post was updated on March 24, 2020.

Yes. There is actually something worse than getting sick… and that thing is getting sick while you’re traveling abroad! While missed flights can be rebooked and lost luggage can be replaced, when it comes to your wellbeing when you’re far from home, restoring your health is a much more difficult feat.

With just a tiny bit of pre-trip prep and some solid research, you can tackle any ailment that comes your way during your travels. Before you go, ask yourself these nine questions and use these tips and tricks to help you fend off any foreign bite, booboo, or burning fever!

Did I Pack Enough of My Prescription Medication?medical-kit

The last thing you want is to run out of your medication halfway through your trip! Bringing enough medication for the full length of your trip will help you avoid the hassle of finding a local pharmacy, getting a prescription, and paying an extra fee for the medications (if you can even obtain them!) you need.

Pro-tip: Download WebMD’s App to your smartphone. The app allows you to figure out if any symptoms you may come down with are serious enough to seek medical attention!

Does My Health Insurance Provider Cover Foreign Medical Emergencies?

Some health insurance providers actually cover foreign medical emergencies! But even so, it’s very likely that your international insurance coverage will be much different from your local coverage, so it’s best to check before you go. If you find that your provider doesn’t have any foreign coverage — or you didn’t read this post in time to ask them about it — be sure to keep all your receipts if you’re ever treated in another country. Many insurance companies offer a certain amount of reimbursement of your medical costs…if you provide proof, that is!

Should I Get Medical Travel Insurance?

Don’t have any health insurance? Does your current provider not cover any medical treatment abroad? Don’t stress — you still have options! Travelers insurance is a short-term insurance plan that you can purchase when you book your ticket and each plan comes with varying degrees of coverage. For example, if you’re heading on a backcountry hiking adventure, you might need better coverage than someone who is spending a week shopping on Champs Elysees in Paris. Go ahead and call a few travel plan companies and compare prices, coverage, package offerings that best suit your needs.

Are My Vaccinations Up to Date?international travel-shots

When traveling to certain parts of the world, you may be exposed to a series of foreign and unknown diseases. Be the savvy traveler that you are, and protect yourself from all the diseases you can be inoculated for! Use the handy-dandy ‘where are you going’ search engine on the CDC website to find out which diseases are prevalent in the areas you’re traveling to and how to protect yourself from them. In fact, some countries won’t even let you in without the proper vaccinations, to make sure to check a country’s website as well.

Do I Have All of My Relevant Health Information?

You’ve read up on your travel destination, discovered potentially dangerous diseases, and got yourself vaccinated. Good for you! You seem to have everything in order. But what if something happens and you can’t tell your doctor what’s wrong? Bringing your health records such as your blood type, info on any allergies you might have, and history of recurring medical problems (like seizures or epilepsy) can help doctors abroad figure out how to treat you. If you end up with some sort of brain injury or concussion and aren’t able to communicate, a card with all this information can be life-saving.

You may also like: Wellness Tips to Protect Your Health While Traveling

Do I Know How to Contact My Embassy or Consulate?

Your home country’s embassy or consulate is your best friend in times of need, so make sure you write down its contact information. In case of a serious medical emergency, it can literally be the only resource you have in certain dire situations such as needing to be airlifted back to your home country, requiring access to a higher level of medical care, or seeking legal representation to even be treated.

Did I Remember to Pack a First Aid Kit?first-aid-kit

For your day-to-day aches and ailments, a mini first aid kit will be the answer to all your woes. Small kits are as cheap as $20 on Amazon and have all the essentials you could possibly need — bandages, gauze, tape, alcohol wipes, and pain-killers! If you’re planning on adventuring through the great outdoors on this trip, try to include a more thorough range of things such as ice packs, sunscreen, and triple antibiotic ointment!

Do I Know Any Medical Words or Emergency Services Info in the Country I’m Visiting?

You remembered to look up and memorize “bathroom” and “more cheese please” in a foreign language, but what would you say in the case of a medical emergency? Even before you book those cheap international flights, be sure to know how to reach emergency medical services. You should also know how to say basic things like “I’m sick,” “Hospital” or “Doctor.” Combine these with some body language (clutching your stomach for stomachache, or putting a hand on your head to indicate a fever) and you’ll find that often times people will know where to direct you for help.

Do you have any tips and tricks for staying healthy abroad?  Share them with us in the comments below!

About the author

Tasmiah Rashid

In a past life, Tasmiah was either a Bollywood actress, renowned ethnographer or master chef; no questions asked. In this one, she is a shower-singing, croissant enthusiast, who also writes content for Fareportal, in that order.