Being prepared is your best defence against emergencies. Whether you have a chronic illness, are traveling somewhere to get medical work done, or simply want to be prepared and cover your bases while on vacation, it’s important to be prepared if something were to happen. Here are the best ways to travel while being medically ready for anything:
Carry Copies of Medical Documents
Consider packing yourself a traveling medical folder before leaving home. Include in it personal contacts for an emergency as well as contacts for your typical physician. Keep a list of current medical conditions you are dealing with and a list of medications (even over-the-counter ones) in this folder as well.
If you rely on certain daily prescriptions, get a formal letter from your doctor declaring the medications you are bringing with you. Make sure that the document mentions how much medication you’ll have with you and states that it will be for personal use only. Since drug laws differ from country to country, you want to make sure that you won’t get into trouble for any medications you are carrying.
To simplify the total number of documents you are carrying while traveling, consider an emergency medical ID card. This is typically the size of a credit card and can fit in your wallet. These types of cards are easy to order and have a photo ID as well as emergency contact information, medications, health issues, allergies, and blood type.
Monitor Your Current Health
If you are maintaining a pre-existing medical condition that requires medication, prepare for that. And most importantly, make sure you bring enough to last you the entirety of your trip, and then some. If you rely on daily medication, divide it between your carry on and checked baggage in case something gets lost or stolen.
If your condition requires constant monitoring, consider using a wearable medical device to stay connected to both your doctor and your medical records while traveling. This type of technology has many uses but can be set up to track continuous heart rate, blood pressure, and oxygen intake — all while you vacation.
Get the Appropriate Vaccinations
The specific vaccinations you need will depend greatly on which countries you plan to visit. It will also depend on what season you are traveling in, the length of your stay, the type of transportation you will take (i.e. train, plane), and your own medical history. Be in contact with your doctor at least eight weeks before going on your trip to make sure there is enough time for the proper vaccinations and boosters.
The CDC provides an invaluable resource that helps you determine specific needs for specific areas. By putting in the location you plan to travel to, you can get exact, up-to-date information on which vaccines to get. Some vaccinations are valuable no matter where you are going. For example rabies, flu, and tetanus vaccinations can protect you from common problems that inhabit every country. Also consider a malaria, typhoid Fever, or hepatitis A and B vaccination depending on the bug density where you are going, because prevention is key.
Get Traveler’s Insurance
Determine if you need travel insurance for yourself. In the United States the average emergency visit costs at least $1,300 and increases with the amount of medical treatment needed. While some countries have universal healthcare, it does not mean you are covered as a visitor.
Having the right travel insurance plan can help to alleviate the costs of medical treatment you may receive while out of the country. Be sure to avoid common mistakes when searching for travel insurance. For example, purchase location-specific insurance plans only if you know, one hundred percent, that your travel plans will not change. If you buy a location-specific plan and end up detouring through another country, you may end up with travel insurance that doesn’t cover you or your plans.
Just remember that pre-existing condition are typically not covered under your travel insurance unless you purchase pre-existing insurance.
First Aid Kit
Pack a first aid kit for your trip in the case of emergencies. Standard kits house Tylenol, Band-Aids, antibacterial cleaner, sunscreen, bug repellent, gauze, and surgical tape. If a kit contains a small pair of scissors check it to avoid issues with airports and consider adding an anti-nausea medication.
Keep in mind that If you plan on carrying any generic medication (even over the counter!) across countries, you should keep it in the original packaging. Drug laws differ from country to country, so make sure that the country you are going into knows exactly what you are trying to bring in their borders.
By being prepared in advance for a trip and the potential health hazards you may run into while there, you’ll have a better time on your trip and you’ll come home as healthy as you were when you left.
Avery: Avery T. Phillips is a freelance human being with too much to say. She loves exploring the U.S. mountains of SW Idaho and examining human interactions with the greater world at large. Comment or tweet her @a_taylorian with any questions or suggestions.
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