Have you ever been ill away from home? I caught a cold in England and without the guidance of the tour guide would have had a hard time figuring out what over the counter medicines to buy. For some people their illnesses or injuries are serious requiring the care of professionals.
Preparing for potential health issues before you leave home will make it a lot easier to deal with in the event you do become ill.
Pack a kit of over the counter medications for common illnesses. This way you can start self-treatment as soon as symptoms arise versus waiting until you much sicker to seek help.
The kit should include medicines for pain, diarrhea, stomach upset and colds at a minimum. If I had this kit in England, I probably would have recovered much quicker.
To avoid Montezuma’s revenge, take care when eating and drinking out. Diarrhea is the most common ailment for travelers occurring up to 70% of the time depending on the country you visit.
In high-risk countries do not eat unpeeled fruit or drink the tap water. Wash your hands often and especially before eating anything. You may be exposed to very different bacteria and viruses when touching common areas in buses, hotels, etc. Take anti-bacterial gel for those times you might not have access to hot water and soap.
I’ve been on several cruises where passengers were either evacuated from the helicopter or left at port due to illness. Either result can come with a steep bill.
Check with your insurance carrier to see if you have coverage outside the country. If not, consider getting travel insurance or for longer trips, short-term health insurance.
Know Where to Get Care
Since there most likely isn’t 911, how do you find health care in foreign countries? If you’re traveling in an organized group, usually the tour guide or director can make the arrangements or provide assistance.
Be sure to take the contact information for the nearest Embassy for your country who will help you find a doctor abroad. Another option is the International Association for Medical Assistance to Travelers otherwise known as IAMAT who maintains a directory of English-speaking medical professionals around the world. Sign up for free before your travels.
Traveling to other parts of the world and new countries is fun, exciting and intellectually stimulating. Don’t miss that because of illness. What is your best tip for good health while traveling?
photo by Marcin Wichary