It’s important to stay healthy at any time, but when you’re overseas you might find yourself exposed to more pathogens and with far more limited access to healthcare. It would also put a massive downer on your holiday if this was the one time when you fell ill. It’s quite common for travellers to also have pre-existing medical conditions and, for this group of people, it’s especially vital to seek further information on managing illness while abroad. The following checklist gives a rundown of the top priorities.
Most airlines are very strict when it comes to people with pre-existing medical conditions. If you have one, you should carry a doctor’s letter including details of your condition and the contact details of your doctor in case of an emergency.
When you travel, you introduce an element of uncertainty to your life. You might have meticulously planned your trip, but delays and cancellations aren’t unheard of. Ensure you pack extra medical supplies in case the trip lasts longer than expected. Always pack your medication in your carry on in case your checked-in luggage goes missing en route.
BASIC INFORMATION ABOUT YOURSELF
Just as many people carry a copy of their passport on them at all times, it’s a good idea for you to have certain details of your medical condition written down and easily accessible. These should include your physician’s contact details, health insurance details, travel insurance details, the dosages and names of your medication, and a list of your current illnesses and allergies. All of this information will be extremely helpful in the event of a medical emergency.
Make sure you always travel with medical travel insurance. If you have a pre-existing condition, it’s imperative that you declare it when you apply for an insurance plan, or else it won’t be valid. Most health and travel insurance plans will cover your medical expenses, the theft of valuables, flight cancellations, certain legal costs and a range of other eventualities.
Since not everything always goes to plan, it’s a great idea to have a back up. When you reach your destination, it might be a good idea to store your medical supplies in a few different locations so that you’ll have access to some in the event of losing access to the rest. You might also want to discuss an emergency contact for your doctor or pharmacist back home, or someone you can see in your destination, in case you need a new supply urgently.
MEDICAL ALERT IDENTIFICATION
Medical alert identification bracelets are a way of making other travellers and health professionals aware of your condition, especially if you are prone to symptoms, such as fits, that make it difficult or impossible for you to communicate what is happening.
ADEQUATE TRAVEL RESEARCH
There are certain rules and regulations relating to transporting some health-related devices internationally. For example, if you use an oxygen supply, you will need to check with the airline whether or not they permit you to bring your own or can set you up with a portable oxygen concentrator for the journey.
HAVE A MEDICAL CARE OPTION IN YOUR DESTINATION
Especially if you’re going to be away for a long time, it’s essential for you to continue with medical check-ups, or at least to know where the nearest facilities are, should there be a reason to have to visit at short notice. Find out what medical care you’re entitled to and where to go for it.
FIRST AID KIT
As well as any medication for your pre-existing condition, it’s always a good idea to carry a first aid kit. From scratches and scrapes to an upset tummy, travel comes with risks, and having a small selection of the basics clearly labelled in a language you understand will save you a lot of hassle and discomfort.
Before you arrange to travel anywhere, see a specialist travel nurse and make sure you have the necessary vaccinations for your destination. It’s best to make your initial appointment a few months before travelling, since some vaccinations require more than one dose some weeks apart. While seeking medical advice, you should also ask how your usual medication might interact with other drugs or be affected by the symptoms of another illness. For example, food poisoning is very common overseas, and being sick can expel drugs from your body and reduce their efficacy.