No-Fear Guide to Being Sick while Traveling Abroad
So you’re super pumped for your Trip abroad—a trip you’ve probably been looking forward to for months. After all your preparation and packing, you finally arrive, anxious to get your adventure started and to check off all those activities you have on your itinerary. But then the unexpected happens—you fall Sick. You might be even more anxious if you’re in a foreign land where you’ve never been, you don’t know anyone, or you don’t speak the language. While no one looks forward to getting sick in a foreign country, a sickness doesn’t have to ruin your trip. This post will discuss how you can prepare for a potential sickness before you leave home and steps to take if you do happen to get sick while traveling abroad.
Before You Leave Home
Do some research on the region where you’ll be traveling. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s website, particularly its travel section, is a great place to start. Here you will find information about health advisories in different countries. The Traveler’s Health page allows you to select your destination as well as any special conditions surrounding your trip, and based on this information, will advise you about any recommended vaccines and/or medications you should take ahead of time in order to prevent illness.
Schedule a visit with your doctor. If you need any vaccines or special medications before your trip, see your doctor, ideally at least a month in advance. If you have any pre-existing conditions, have your doctor write a letter describing your condition and any prescription medications you are taking for said condition. They should include the generic names of these medications.
Contact your insurance company. Ask them if your Medical care is covered abroad. Your coverage may vary depending on where you are traveling. If not, you may wish to invest in temporary traveler’s health insurance in case you get sick while traveling abroad. Whichever option you decide, make sure to carry your insurance card with you at all times when you’re abroad. Also be sure to save any receipts for any medical care, as your insurance company might be able to reimburse you depending on circumstances.
Pack appropriately. Some of the over-the-counter medications that are so easy to find at home may not be quite as easy to find abroad. It’s a good idea to bring some with you just in case. It’s also helpful to pack a first-aid kit with bandages, gauze, tape, and painkillers. When packing your prescription medications, make sure to keep them in their original containers. Some of your medications may be considered narcotics or illegal drugs in other countries, so having proof of prescription will save you from getting into legal trouble in addition to getting sick! Finally, keep all your important medical information handy and in any accessible place, perhaps in your wallet.
Know who you can contact in case of an emergency. It might be a good idea to give your emergency contact a rough idea of your travel plans so that they know where you are and what you’re up to. Make sure you know how to get in touch with them and keep this information accessible along with your medical information.
Study some basic medical vocabulary. It can be helpful to know some basic medical terms in the local language of where you are going. If you have a pre-existing condition, make sure you know the local terms for it. It is also useful to know the local names of any medications you are taking.
When You Get to Your Destination
Now you’ve arrived, and all of a sudden, you’re overcome with sickness. What do you do? Hopefully the above preparation has helped some. But just in case, you should also keep in mind the following steps to ensure that your sickness doesn’t get worse and potentially ruin your trip.
Stay calm. While getting nervous is a normal reaction to getting sick in a place you don’t know, all worrying does is make your sickness worse. Therefore, do whatever you can to stay calm while you’re taking the necessary steps to get better, whether that be deep breathing, meditation, yoga, listening to relaxing music, getting a massage, watching TV, or any other self-care activity you enjoy. As tempting as it might be, try to avoid calling your emergency contact until there is an absolute need to. Unless they are a trained medical professional, there is probably not much they’re going to be able to do right away, and you also don’t want them to worry.
Listen to your body. When traveling, you might be inclined to push through the exhaustion and sickness and try to accomplish as much as you possibly can. After all, you’ve paid for an experience, and you want to make the most of it. Pushing through is not a good idea. When your body is in pain, it’s sending you a message to take a step back and rest. Otherwise you risk getting even more sick.
Don’t be afraid to go to a clinic. You should definitely go to a doctor if you have an animal bite or scratch, have been in a car accident, have been physically or sexually assaulted, or have a fever of 102 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. If you have a friend who speaks the local language who can go with you, that will make your visit easier, but you are also likely to find English-speaking medical staff at the facility. Plus, if you’ve already read up on the medical vocabulary of the local language, you’re already in better shape than a traveler who didn’t. An important note—be sure to bring your passport and your medical information with you to the clinic; you will need it.
Know how to contact your home country’s embassy or consulate in your destination location. This is especially important in the case of a more serious medical emergency, such as a heart attack. Consular officers can help you find the necessary medical care, and if you wish, they can inform your emergency contact. If you end up needing to go back to your home country for medical care, the consular officers will be able to help arrange that for you to be airlifted back. While any associated medical or travel costs are your responsibility, the consulate or embassy will be able to help with the transfer of funds from your home country if needed.
Remember that travel is more than just tourism. Visiting museums and famous landmarks is fun, but how much can they really tell you about the minute everyday experiences, struggles, and joys of a people? As challenging and perhaps unpleasant as it might be, navigating the healthcare system of a foreign country is an opportunity to experience one small aspect of the life of an ordinary citizen. Furthermore, if you happen to get sick while you’re on a tour, you should look after yourself and step aside, take a break, or sit down. These breaks can be an opportunity for you to observe the everyday lives of locals, and perhaps even interact with them one-on-one.
Keep a positive attitude. While it is no doubt undesirable to get sick when you’re traveling, being able to overcome or deal with a sickness in an unfamiliar environment is proof of your resilience. And even if sickness did put a total damper on your trip, remember that you can always go back and experience what you might not have been able to on one trip. No matter how long you’re in a place or how efficient you are, there will always be more to discover. You can even go back and do things you’ve done on a previous trip and experience them with fresh eyes. The world is big, and life is long, so one sickness on one trip is not the be all and end all. Also keep in mind that being positive can help you heal faster!
If you’d like to talk more about travel, health, wellness, or anything else that’s of interest to you, check out Konversai. Konversai is a global knowledge platform that allows users from all over the world to connect with anyone, anywhere, about anything. Konversai was founded on the premise that no matter who you are, where you’re from, or what your life circumstances are, we all have valuable knowledge, skills, and experiences to share that can be of benefit to someone else. If you have a trip coming up and want to plan, you can use Konversai to connect with a local or someone who knows your destination location well. Or if you are concerned about dealing with sickness while abroad, you can talk to someone who has been through a similar experience and learn what helped them.
Konversai allows providers of knowledge to share the things that they know and are passionate about, and even make extra money doing so without even leaving their home. If they don’t need the money, they can always hold sessions for free or donate their earnings to a charity of their choice. On the flip side, the platform allows seekers of knowledge to enjoy personalized, one-on-one sessions with a human being on exactly what they’re looking to learn. Any and all knowledge, skills, and experiences have a place on Konversai, and all users are encouraged to be both knowledge providers and knowledge seekers on any and as many topics as they wish. Konversai’s mission is to democratize knowledge, put the human connection back into the heart of technology, and make the world better by enabling meaningful and authentic conversations that can enrich people’s lives. Be part of this movement by joining Konversai today!
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