Falling ill on a vacation can bring the fun to a screeching halt. But if it happens while traveling abroad, seeking care can become even more problematic.
While Ebola is currently dominating headlines, even a stomach bug in a foreign country could end up costing a lot in care.
But there are preventative steps every traveler can do ahead of their getaway to reduce their chances of getting sick. From getting a pre-trip check up to researching the local medical care, travel experts weigh in on how to staying healthy on your next international trip.
Tip 1: Research the Medical Care in the Country You’re Visiting
The level of medical care will vary from country to country and even town to town, which is why doing your research before leaving is key. Wendy Perrin, a TripAdvisor travel advocate, recommends getting insight from recent travelers or local experts.
It’s also a good idea to review the State Department’s website to read its review of the country and to enroll in the State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program. This free service lets U.S. citizens enroll their trip with the closest U.S. embassy or consulate.
Tip 2: Schedule a pre-travel check up
Maria Katime, a spokeswoman for KAYAK, recommends getting a pre-travel check up with a doctor before setting off across the globe. The doctor can catch any lingering illnesses and also make sure you’re up-to-date on any precautions issued from the World Health Organization (WHO), she says.
“Depending on the region you’re traveling to, you’ll need to make sure you get the appropriate precautionary shots or medication/pills,” says Katime.
Perrin suggests visiting a travel clinic to get the name of a reliable doctor at your destination, and to pack a mini medical kit.
“Include an antibiotic for [respiratory] ailments, an antibiotic for [digestive] ailments, acetaminophen, ibuprofen, antihistamine, antiseptic wipes, antibiotic ointment, and band aids,” says Perrin.
Tip 3: Avoid Real Cabin Fever
Being in an enclosed space for multiple hours as you fly across the world increases your likelihood of getting sick, which is why starting the trip with a strong immune system is key.
According to Katime, many people aren’t immune to the cabin’s recycled air, which is why it’s good to pack an immune supplement. She also says to drink plenty of water while in flight. Perrin advises taking Vitamin C before the trip as well as during it.
Tip 4: Consider Travel Insurance
If getting sick while traveling is a real consideration, experts say you may want to consider taking out travel medical insurance.
There are a host of carriers that offer a range of coverage at different price points. If you don’t want to get insurance, Katime says to always travel with an emergency contact information sheet and to add “ICE” (In Case of Emergency) in front of every emergency contact in your phone book. Having the ICE in front of the names in your contacts people will know to call them first if you get sick or hurt, says Katime.