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Getting Sick on a Trip Abroad – What Should You Do?

Getting sick while on vacation is never a good thing. You have planned for this trip; you have looked forward to it; you have an itinerary for enjoyable and fun activities. Now you are sick, and all of that planning and happy anticipation is ruined. Getting sick on a trip is never a good thing.Here are some essential activities before you ever leave on your trip.

But what happens if you get sick in a foreign country? You don’t know the language; you are not certain about healthcare protocols, and now you must find medical attention. This presents a whole new set of challenges in addition to just the ugliness of being sick. 

Here is your best plan for what to do.

Getting Sick on a Trip

Before You Go Advance Planning

Here are some essential activities before you ever leave on your trip:

  1. Do Your Research

You know which country or countries you will be visiting. Research the healthcare system in the country and medical clinics and hospitals in the specific town and cities you will be going to. Put these in your phone or write them down.

  1. Get Your Health Documents Translated

In some places, you will need to have proof of health insurance in your home country. You also may have chronic conditions for which you take regular medication, and there may be some treatment protocols within some of your medical records. Find the very best translation service provider you can – one who has an expert native translator familiar with medical terminology in the languages of the countries you will be visiting. (Note: if your insurance company will not cover you while abroad, purchase a temporary health insurance policy that will be good in the places you intend to go).

  1. Pack a Basic First Aid Kit

There are over-the-counter medications that you should always carry, especially if you are prone to certain minor conditions. Diarrhea, indigestion, and allergy meds come to mind.

  1. Take Care of Your Health

Eat right, get enough sleep, and engage in physical exercise before you leave, so that you are in tip-top shape and your immune system is at its best. Think about it. Would you take your car on a long road trip, even abroad, without having it thoroughly checked out and all routine maintenance done beforehand? Of course not. Don’t take your body without the same care.

Getting Sick on a Trip

Now You are There and Sick – What to Do?

  1. If Your Condition is Not Serious 

Suppose you get bitten by a spider and are having an allergic reaction. You need more than Benadryl. Get out your list of local clinics or hospitals, get in a cab, and get there. Be certain to take all medical documents with you.

  1. If Your Condition is Serious

Get yourself to a hospital. If you need an ambulance, call the hotel desk or find the nearest business or shop owner. (Note: “ambulance” and “hospital” should be two words you have in your phone in the language of every country you go to).

When you are able, call the U.S. Embassy or Consulate and report your hospitalization. Their officials can retrieve your medical documents from your hotel, can notify relatives back home, and even provide money upfront if you need it. (Note: you will still be responsible for any bill)

  1. Don’t Push Yourself if You are Sick or Injured

You are better off taking a day and just resting if you get sick or injured. Pushing yourself to stick to your itinerary no matter what will only make your condition worse. Take two days if necessary. No need to ruin your entire trip because you fail to get well.

Prevention Along the Way

There is also something to be said about doing what you can to stay healthy while on your trip. Your routine is different. You have traveled through time zones. And you will be eating a variety of foods that may be entirely new to your system. You can take steps to keep yourself healthy – drink lots of clean water (bottled is preferred); eat in moderation; get plenty of sleep and be sure to rest between strenuous activities you are not used to. 

All in all, you cannot prevent all illnesses or injuries. But you can be prepared to take the right action when these incidents do occur.

Author Bio: Merissa Moore is a researcher and writer keenly interested in our contemporary global environment and the ever-increasing diversity of countries and the “shrinking” of our world. She writes about lifestyles, travel, languages – anything with an international flavor. In her spare time, she experiments with international gourmet cooking and plays the guitar and a local Indie band.

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