What To Do When You’re Ill Abroad

There’s nothing worse than not feeling 100% when you’re in another country or even worse, alone in another country, but sometimes it can unfortunately happen. Here are some things that can help if you find yourself under the weather and in need of some medical attention on holiday.

Travel Insurance – This is just a given. As soon as you book a trip buy your travel insurance to cover you and your possessions should the worst happen. Travel Insurance helped my parents rescue a few thousand pounds worth of holiday after my mum had a bike accident in the weeks before, and has also helped me claim back nearly £100 worth of antibiotics that were needed when on a press trip. Worth the £15 or so.

The Hotel Doctor – If you’re in a resort or hotel complex then your hotel may have a doctor. If you find yourself struck down by the dreaded stomach flu or with some odd aches and pains/heat stroke or sunburn then ask for and utilise this. They will take your travel insurance details and should sort everything out in-house for you so you don’t have to worry about costs.

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Stomach Bugs – If you’re unlucky enough to get a dodgy tummy when you’re away ask a local pharmacy what’s best and take their medicine. Medicine abroad in countries such as Egypt where this type of illness is common amongst travellers is often a lot more powerful than ours and should sort you out a lot quicker. Things like Immodium can be good for flights home or short periods in an emergency but it’s best to let your body get rid of what it needs to…as unpleasant as that can be! Make sure you stay hydrated and again if it’s really bad, use that hotel doctor. I ended up on an IV drip in Egypt once after severe gastroenteritis but the hotel doctor and medical centre were both great, and free with my insurance.

Water Sterilisers – Tom from Spaghetti Traveller suggests taking a water purifier with you when you travel. Tom says: “The most common sickness while travelling is from drinking contaminated water, or simply water containing bacteria your body isn’t used to. I’ve used a few purifiers, but the best so far is the Steripen. You just dip it into a bottle of water and stir and after a couple of minutes, it will have killed most of the bugs and bacteria.”

Have Money Ready – Before you travel, if possible, make sure you have some back-up money in your account should an emergency happen. When in Finland I found myself having to pay a whopping €90 for anti-biotics and tablets I hadn’t budgeted for. Know the costs of using your debit card abroad and make sure you’re able to if
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Get a Good Data Plan – I have O2 Travel for when I go away which is often around £1.99 a day for unlimited 3G access in many countries (some are up to £8 and others aren’t covered so double check before turning your data on). Having free hotel wifi is great, as is popping into a local coffee shop or bar, but if you find yourself out and about in need of help then make sure you have a way to contact people.

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask For Help – This seems silly but you’ll be surprised how daunting it is to do in any country, even your own! If you can make yourself understood you might find that people can be very helpful and kind in an emergency.

Google Translate –  Another use for that 3G you just bought! Using translator apps or books is a great way to make sure key words are correctly explained to doctors or medical professionals if needed.

Take Basic Supplies – I always have a little purse full of the usual, pain killers, Immodium, anti-histamines, re-hydration sachets ready to go in case I need them while I’m away. Some countries charge you a fortune just for a simple box of Paracetamol so stock up before you leave and have them handy!

Check out my handy first aid kit packing list with everything you need HERE

Do you have any tips to share? Leave them in the comment box below!