Travel is one of the most rewarding experiences, be it a short vacation or a year-long adventure around the world, but it is essential to think about your healthcare abroad. It’s important to be positive rather than spending your entire trip worrying about getting sick or injured, but the simple truth is that many things are completely out of our control. It’s better to be prepared and protected so that you can relax and enjoy your travels.
(Photo Credit – flow come)
From travel insurance, travel vaccinations, and finding the best hospital abroad, to basic personal health and fitness, there are many ways to protect and prepare yourself for the rigors of travel.
Check out these 6 Simple Ways to Prepare for your Healthcare While Traveling.
1. Know what you’re starting with – Get a health check
The best weapon in your fight against illness and injury is information. Before you go flying off to tropical rainforest on the other side of the world, it’s essential to understand your current state of health. You may feel completely healthy, but what you have come to think of as ‘feeling normal’ in your day-to-day life, maybe some vitamin or nutrient deficiency that you’ve just gotten used to in a nice easy climate, where your body is accustomed to the local food and water.
Something that makes you feel a little sluggish’ at home could make you feel a whole lot worse when you start to put yourself under the strain of long-haul flights, high-altitude trekking, extreme conditions, or even dirty water.
It probably won’t stop you from traveling, but at least you can be prepared for it and make some simple adjustments in your diet. We’re all about positive thinking and we do believe in ‘thinking yourself sick’ – hypochondria – but there’s nothing like the reassurance and confidence of a health professional telling you that you’re all good, to clear your mind so you can enjoy your travels to the fullest, knowing that your healthcare is taken care of!
Healthcare while traveling – Knowing you’re good to go! (Photo Credit – DVIDSHUB)
2. Prevention – Travel Vaccinations and Medications
Vaccinations of different kinds are in and out of the news on a regular basis for all kinds of reasons, but whatever side of the fence you sit on, there is some illness that you simply do not want on your travels. To name just a few – Tetanus; Hepatitis A and B; Yellow Fever; Rabies; Japanese Encephalitis – all of which are extremely debilitating and dangerous or deadly without treatment. It’s much better to get these done before you travel, as you can ask your doctor about the drugs or vaccines and some countries require you to have certain vaccines before traveling there. A preservative called Thimerosal, used in some vaccines contains Mercury, which is a health concern for many, but most vaccines are now available without it, so make sure you do some research and ask your doctor about that.
As always, prevention is better than a cure. I use the British National Health Service website – Fit for Travel, to check the latest health requirements for almost any country.
Healthcare while traveling – Get yourself protected (Photo Credit – NHS Employers)
3. Travel Insurance
Travel insurance, the true bane of any long-term traveler’s existence…until we need it! Depending on what your home country is and how long you are traveling for at one time, a good travel insurance policy can be quite inexpensive. It’s not something that you want to scrimp on though, as you need to make sure that the policy you choose will cover you for any types of activities you’re thinking of trying in a foreign country, as well as having enough medical coverage to pay for an unexpectedly long hospital stay, in the event that the worst should happen.
Don’t underestimate medical costs, as even in countries that we consider cheap, they can soon spiral out of control. Although it may seem like a lot, you should make sure you get a policy with $100,000 to $150,000 US Dollars medical coverage – minimum!
If your injury or illness is bad enough, then you may need to be flown home, which is incredibly expensive, so make sure you have adequate ‘Repatriation Coverage’ in there as well. We use SafetyWing because they have extremely comprehensive cover and they cover travelers who spend a long period on the road without returning home.
Healthcare while traveling – Leap into your travels (Photo Credit – Justin De La Ornellas)
4. Know how to find a Safe and Trusted Hospital Abroad
Having a great insurance policy that will pay out in all types of eventualities is one thing, but most people simply stop there and travel around hoping for the best. What many of us neglect is the fact that if we do have an accident or contract some horrendous illness, then we’re going to have to go to a hospital. Having grown up in Africa, I know that not all hospitals are built equal, and I can tell you from experience that you don’t want to end up in a bad one in the middle of nowhere!
If you’re in a major European city or a well-developed South American city, like Santiago de Chile, Rio de Janeiro, or Bogota in Colombia, then you stand a much better chance of ending up in a good, clean hospital with well-trained staff and modern facilities, but even these cities still have their bad hospitals, and that’s not where you want to find yourself.
Healthcare while traveling – Don’t wait until you need it (Photo Credit – tuoitrenews.vn)
How prepared you want to be is really up to you, but ideally, on arrival in a new city or country, you would already know the best place to go before you need any emergency medical treatment, not after.
Don’t wait until you need it most to find a good hospital or health clinic.
5. Prepare your body
Traveling can have an impact on your health, with long-haul flights, overnight bus journeys, suspicious water, and amazing new food all taking their toll on your system. When we’re tired from long travels, our immune systems can take a bit of a dip and with new cuisines we night don’t necessarily know if we’re getting as many nutrients as we normally would from our food. When you have your pre-travel checkup, ask your doctor about simple vitamin and mineral supplements to take with you, so you know that wherever you are, you always have some extra help hitting your recommended daily amounts of the important stuff.
Physical preparation is important too. Make sure that you are in good enough shape to travel, especially for any outdoor activities or adventure sports you have planned. Even carrying a backpack around can cause an injury when it contains your whole life and you’re out of shape. Again, prevention is better than the cure, and a little of, the right kind of exercise can go a long way.
There are plenty of simple ways to stay in shape while you travel too – Check out these 7 Tips for Staying Healthy on the Road.
Healthcare while traveling – Are you ready for this? (Photo Credit – Paxson Woelber)
6. Don’t forget your teeth!
One of the most important parts of our body and the most debilitating pain when they go wrong. Almost everyone forgets their teeth when they think about their health while traveling, but with what we put them through every day, we are just as likely, if not more so, to break a tooth as an arm or a leg!
With dental treatment being one of the biggest medical costs in places like Europe, the UK, and the US, you are better off needing a root canal in Thailand than you are at home, as dental treatment abroad is often a lot cheaper. But you still need to find a good dental clinic abroad that isn’t going to damage your pearly whites or sell you more treatment than you need.
No one likes freaky teeth, so do your research and get a good dentist!
Healthcare while traveling – Teeth are for life, treat them right! (Photo Credit – Conor Lawless)
Do you have any more tips and advice for looking after your healthcare abroad? Share them in the comments!
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