Sick On Vacation, Now What?

There are ways to boosting your immunity while traveling, but what happens if you still end up getting sick or even injured?

It’s the unfortunate reality that many travelers – including myself – tend to overlook. We’re much too excited for some Rest and Relaxation to think about the worse-case scenarios. But from what I’ve learned during past trips, it’s worth making the extra effort. You getting hurt doesn’t mean you need to also hurt your wallet.

First and foremost, carry your insurance I.D. If you can’t find it, then print one from your insurer’s website. Some cards might have a QR Code on it; that way, you can easily scan it with a smartphone and access your health plan details. Also make sure to pack prescription and dental cards, too.

Now that you’ve got those cards out on the table, call your health insurance company to find the best places for healthcare at your vacation destination. Look for the 800 number and verify what out-of-network coverage you have. This was a big concern for me when we were preparing to go to Australia last summer, so I made the call and found out that with HMSA as my insurer, I could go to any blue shield facility and not have to worry about a crazy hospital bill.

Another thing we did to prepare for this out-of-the-country trip was have a list of the prescription medicines we take. My sister and I have asthma, so doing this was a must. Since then, I’ve even taken this list on domestic trips. If for some reason, I’m unable to speak after an accident or injury, I can at least hand this list to the doctor, so he/she will make sure not to give me any meds that will adversely interact with something I’m already taking.

We always travel with a small first aid kit and basic over-the-counter medicines – for headaches, coughs, colds, etc. We made sure to have a supply of these when going to Australia because the medicines (and therefore, ingredients) were different from the American over-the-counter ones that we were used to. Also, they were really expensive and difficult to find. There wasn’t really any CVS-type stores/pharmacies; instead, we would have had to hunt for a “Pharmacy,” which exclusively sold over-the-counter or prescription meds. (This is similar to how there may be a specific bread or meat shop, as opposed to just getting bread from a general supermarket.)

Although vacations tend to make us forget about our health, no one wants to be stuck sitting poolside when the rest of the fam is out exploring nor do we want to be “relaxing” at the ER. Hopefully this post will help change your mind the next time you travel and save you from dipping into that vacation budget to pay for an unnecessary hospital bill.

Posted by: Bruce Fisher