Top 10 Health Tips for Travel

Mar 5, 2019 12:49:12 PM Sarah Rymer

Becoming sick or injured while traveling or living internationally can be an upsetting experience. Here are a few tips to help you prepare before traveling.

1. Check with your insurance policy to see if you are covered while traveling outside your home rawpixel-783422-unsplashcountry. If you are not covered, purchase a short-term insurance policy that will cover you while traveling. Make sure the policy includes medical evacuation back to your home country. If you are moving to a new country, buy an international health care policy that covers you in your new country and your home country.

2. Carry your health insurance identification card and claim form with you while traveling. Have a family member or trusted friend in your home country keep a copy of these documents. Be sure to complete the emergency contact information in the front of your passport, including a telephone number. Ideally your emergency contact is the person with the copy of your insurance documents and other important documents.
3. Contact your doctor if you have a pre-existing health condition or take prescription medicine, and ask for a letter that describes the condition as well as any prescription medicines you need. Ask your doctor to include alternative names and generic names for the medicine. Make sure the letter is signed and on the doctor’s stationery. If you are planning on spending several months or longer living in another country, ask your doctor for a copy of your medical record to carry with you.
4. Pack a good supply of your prescription medicine. The medicine should be in its original container and clearly labeled. Carry any over-the-counter medicine you use.
5. Prepare a simple first-aid kit that includes ibuprofen to reduce fevers, muscle inflammation, and joint pain; bandages in assorted sizes; an antibiotic ointment such as Neosporin for cuts and wounds; an anti-diarrhea medication such as Imodium A-D or Pepto-Bismol; oral rehydration supplements such as CeraLyte to replenish electrolytes lost through sweating and diarrhea; blister pads; fiber supplements to ease constipation; antiseptic wipes; and a thermometer.
6. Download these resources if you will be in a remote area, far from a hospital or other medical care: "Where There Is No Doctor" by David Werner and "Where There Is No Dentist" by Murray Dickson. You can download a free pdf of each book here.
7. Ask for help if you get sick! Your hotel or hostel should be able to recommend a doctor or hospital. If you are in a city, it is usually best to go to the emergency room of a large hospital. If you are in a rural area, you should be able to find a doctor, but find someone who can translate for you. Often payment is required before treatment.
8. Register with the U.S. State Department “Smart Travel Enrollment Program” here before leaving the U.S., and carry the phone number of the embassy with you. If you have a major injury or severe illness while overseas, contact the local embassy to help you find the best place to be treated and help with medical evacuation if needed.
9. Investigate the health system before you get sick if you are living for weeks or months in a new country. Talk to friends about which hospital is best or which doctor to see. Often navigating the new health system is different from what you are familiar with back home, so ask for help.
10. Help prevent illness by following these steps before you travel: How to Travel Healthy.

While getting sick or injured is never enjoyable, being prepared will help lessen the stress.


About the Author: Scott is the IDEAS Director of Operations for Asia. While living in Asia, Scott had major surgery, was in the midst of a polio outbreak, helped his wife through two major surgeries, and helped his two sons through childhood illness and various sports injuries. Check out Scott's other blog posts, including: Crisis Preparation - Peace in the Storm.


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