Getting sick while travelling absolutely sucks. Here is a list of my major travel blues:
- 2010: I experienced an intimate relationship with the bathrooms of both London Heathrow and a British Airways 747 due to food poisoning in Austria. It took me over a week to recover back home.
- 2009: In Australia I caught an awful flu type infection that made for a few days of absolute misery. I’m pretty certain I caught that from a motel pillow.
- 1997: Turkey. They call it the Turkish Trots. Horrible! Thank god I was in the Air Force and had a military ER to visit… twice, a month apart.
While my incidents were bad from my perspective, people encounter far worse scenarios. Just look in the news for the stories.
So what do you do when you get sick or injured abroad? Medical care quality can vary quite a bit depending on where you go, so it’s best to plan ahead.
Pack a Drug Kit
In Europe, you can’t just buy over the counter drugs like you can in the US. You have to talk to a doctor or pharmacist to get what you need. You just want some Pepto-Bismol, but the pharmacist thinks you need an antacid and won’t give you what you asked for. It can quite frustration to deal with this when you are exploding from both ends.
Packing a little “emergency” kit is a must. Trust me! Mine consists of:
- Anti-diarrheal tablets
- Allergy pills
- Cold medication (Nyquil)
- Pain meds (Tylenol, Asprin, Motrin)
- and of course some band-aids and alcohol wipes.
But what if you get sick enough where you need to see a doctor. Luckily you can find travel clinics most anywhere you go. But expect a visit to cost $100 or so depending on the circumstances. I was lucky in Australia as the pills the doctor gave me were spot on and I was feeling much better the next day. Not so lucky at the London clinic where I got bad advice and my money went down the toilet, literally.
Plan ahead by researching clinics and medical costs before you travel so you know what to expect.
Travel Health Insurance
Check your health insurance to see if it covers you abroad. A lot of plans will not cover you, so consider purchasing additional insurance before you travel. The US Department of State is an excellent resource with tons of travel tips and information. They also have a list of places where you can get travel medical insurance on their Medical Insurance page.
It pays to shop around as cost and coverage vary, but a quick google search will pull up plenty of information. If you’re really heading off the beaten path and the medical care where you are is, uh, lacking… you can even get inexpensive evacuation service. Get seriously injured hiking in Nepal? MedJet will fly you back home to the hospital of your choice.
I only covered a small portion of travel safety based on my experience, so check out the US Department of State site as they cover a lot more travel tips. Getting sick while abroad is not fun, but with a little research and planning, you can prepare yourself for that unfortunate burrito that puts a damper on your trip.
From Aug 6 through Sep 5, I’m participating in The Suitcase Entrepreneur’s 30 Day Blog Challenge. Every day, for the next 30 days, I’ll be posting about a new topic of the day about building my own online business. I’m looking forward to learning new tips and trick for my new blog,Livermore Rocks! So join me on my quest as I take on the 30 Day Blog Challenge. Enjoy -Kirk