what to do if you get sick while traveling abroad
December 6, 2022
Author: Marissa Kozma
Nobody knows if or when they’ll get sick on vacation, but it’s never a bad idea to prepare for the unexpected virus, injury, or ailment in advance. If you are visiting a new country, the odds are likely that you’ll encounter a food item or allergen that causes a stomach ache or reaction, catch a cold from a stranger, or just feel under the weather from the exhaustion of traveling itself. Here are some ways to prepare in the event that you or one of your travel partners become sick or injured abroad.
Stay Up to Date on Health Alerts and Outbreaks
When you are deciding on your destination, make sure you check OZZI’s health ratings and guides to ensure there is minimal risk for disease or other health concerns. OZZI keeps you informed of basics like food/water safety, immunization requirements, COVID-19 entry and exit requirements. The app also provides detailed map based advice for seasonal health and disease threats like insect borne illness and virus transmission. For additional confidence on your travels, be sure to check with the CDC’s Travel Site and enroll in the U.S. State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to keep them informed of your travels.
Before you board the plane, contact your health, home owners, and renters insurance providers to see if you have coverage while traveling. If not, consider purchasing a short-term travel insurance policy to cover you in the event of a medical emergency or evacuation — especially if you plan to stay abroad for a long period of time. Carry your health insurance card, claim forms, and any other insurance information with you while traveling, in addition to a letter from your doctor listing any pre-existing health conditions and the generic names of prescribed medications.
Research Medications Before Your Departure
Bring any prescriptions with you on your journey in their original containers with original and legible labels. Some drugs are considered to be illegal narcotics in certain countries, so check with the foreign embassy of the country you are visiting before you pack your bags. If your prescription is not permitted, check with your physician for alternatives or the opportunity to apply for an import license from the embassy. Make sure you count out doses to ensure you have enough medication for your trip and research pharmacies beforehand in case you need a refill in an emergency.
Tell Family and Friends Your Itinerary
Always make sure someone at home knows where you’re going — especially someone that knows of any pre-existing health conditions that might be problematic. Trust this friend or family member with the names of your hotel(s) or other accommodations, flight numbers and departure days, and other helpful information. Make sure your passport lists an emergency contact on the information page and save additional emergency contacts in the OZZI app.
Contact the Nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate
If you become sick or injured, use OZZI to contact your nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. You can immediately connect with embassy officials and emergency personnel that will guide you on what to do next, including where to find hospitals or health care providers in your area that speak your language and/or have translation services available. OZZI also features language and gesture support so that you can interact with doctors and nurses and receive immediate attention in an emergency.