As you prepare for your next overseas trip, whether it’s a vacation in France, China, or Bermuda, you’re probably dreaming of delicious local cuisine, incredible sight-seeing adventures, or plenty of relaxing days on the beach. But one thing you might have neglected to plan for is your health.
Many international travelers who fall ill while overseas aren’t sure where to turn. If you don’t plan ahead for such an unfortunate event, you could find yourself in quite a bind. Here are a few healthy travel tips you should keep in mind as you plan your next overseas journey:
Pay your doctor a visit. Before you board an international flight or set foot on a cruise ship, set up an appointment with your physician — especially if you have a medical condition. Your doctor can give you a thorough checkup to make sure you’re healthy enough to travel overseas.
Research the health care system of your final destination. Although quite a few international destinations, such as China, Costa Rica, and Thailand, offer top-notch medical care, many countries do not. Do your homework and find out if and how you’ll be able to get medical care if necessary. If the country you’re planning to visit has a notoriously substandard health care system, you might want to choose a different destination.
Get familiar with local diseases. If you are traveling to a particularly exotic country, you should familiarize yourself with common diseases and medical conditions in that area. Check with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to find out what diseases are common in certain countries. Visit www.cdc.gov/travel for a list of countries that require vaccinations. Visit the World Health Organization’s Web site at www.who.int/ith.
Take a close look at your Health insurance policy. Many Health insurance polices do not cover you if you’re traveling overseas. For example, Medicare does not cover international travel health expenses. However, certain Medigap policies do. This is why it’s extremely important to read the fine print on your Health insurance before you embark on that next trip.
If your Health insurance doesn’t cover you for trips abroad, you should purchase Comprehensive Travel insurance. Before signing on the dotted line, make sure this Travel insurance policy covers medical evacuations — these emergency evacs could cost you up to $50,000 out of pocket. You should also check the policy for any exclusions. Some Travel insurance won’t cover injuries that result from “risky” activities, such as mountain climbing or scuba diving.
Pack your meds. Don’t forget to pack any prescriptions and over-the-counter drugs you might need during your trip. If you have crucial prescriptions, be sure to pack some extra in your carry-on bag in case your luggage gets lost. Bring these meds in their original bottles including the labels. That way, you’ll have the necessary info if you need to refill a prescription during your trip. You should also know the generic names of your medication in case the pharmacy doesn’t carry the brand name.
Don’t push it. Many international travelers try to cram too much into one trip, which can be incredibly stressful on the body. Try to plan your trip so that you’re not rushing to a different city every day. Additionally, if you tire or get winded easily, you might want to avoid trips that require excessive walking or vacations in high altitudes.
Know where to turn if you fall ill. If you do get sick during your trip, you can obtain a list of local English-speaking doctors from the U.S. embassy or consulate. Before you leave for your trip, you may want to request a list of English-speaking doctors worldwide. You can obtain this free guide from the nonprofit organization, International Association for Medical Assistance to Travelers. Visit their website at www.iamat.org or call 716-754-4883.