How to Prepare for Medical Emergencies When You Travel
Excited to travel now that life has returned to some sense of normalcy? If so, you’re not alone. Millions of Americans are expected to travel this summer, resuming their love of exploring places near and far. But while you may be ready to hit the road or fly the friendly skies, keep in mind that it’s important to pack more than just your clothes and an itinerary full of must-see sights and activities.
If the pandemic has taught us one thing, it’s the realization of how quickly an illness (or injury) can sideline the best of plans. Planning in advance for how you’ll address health issues or medical emergencies will make it more likely you’ll be able to safely and comfortably enjoy your trip.
Here are 10 tips to help you handle health issues when you travel:
- Research how to access medical care at your destination in case you have a medical emergency. Find out where the closest hospital or urgent care facility is.
- Be prepared for what you’ll do if you get COVID-19 while you’re away. Find out how long you’ll have to isolate, how it may affect your travel plans and where to get medical help if you need it.
- If you regularly take medication, take a little more than you expect to need through your whole trip, in case your return home is delayed.
- Pack any medications you may need in case of emergencies, such as an EpiPen or rescue inhaler.
- Don’t forget bandages, antibiotic ointment and tweezers. From cuts and scrapes to blisters and splinters, these items will help you get back to enjoying your travel plans.
- Bring over-the-counter (OTC) or prescription medications to address any potential illnesses you may experience. This includes meds for nausea, diarrhea, indigestion, allergies, congestion, altitude or motion sickness. Also bring OTC pain killers, like acetaminophen or ibuprofen.
- Check whether you need any specific vaccines before traveling. If you do, get them at least a month before you go.
- Be extra vigilant about safety while away—stay hydrated, wear sunscreen, wash your hands often and be careful when swimming or engaging in activities with an increased risk of injury.
- Avoid drinking local water and eating certain foods if you are going to a locale where the bacteria in the water may make you sick.
- If you’re heading out of the country, consider purchasing travel health and medical evacuation insurance. Getting medical care in another country or having to be transported from overseas is typically not covered by your regular health insurance and can be extremely costly. In contrast, this insurance is relatively inexpensive and can be a lifesaver if you experience a serious medical issue while traveling.
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Date Last Reviewed: May 16, 2022
Editorial Review: Andrea Cohen, Editorial Director, Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Contact Editor
Medical Review: Perry Pitkow, MD