What to Do When You Become Sick While Traveling

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Being sick is difficult under any circumstances. However, it can be especially unpleasant – and even frightening – if it happens while you’re traveling. If your trip takes you only a short way from home, nearby medical facilities may be trustworthy and familiar. However, if you end up becoming ill while on the other side of the world, you may find yourself with a serious problem.

Luckily, there are things you can do if you become sick while traveling. Start by making sure you have health insurance that covers you wherever you’re going. If your normal policy provides no coverage, you can buy a short-term policy created specifically for travelers. Carry your insurance information with you, and ask your doctor for a description of your pre-existing condition and the medications you take.

If you become ill enough to require a doctor’s assistance, your nearest embassy or consulate may be able to help you find treatment, particularly if the illness is serious. Major credit card providers and the U.S. Department of State’s website also have lists of doctors and hospitals in various regions.

However, not all illnesses wait to strike until you arrive at your destination. If you become ill on a plane, you should alert the crew as soon as possible. Depending on the seriousness of your illness, the crew may ask you to cover your mouth with a surgical mask if you are coughing. They may even redirect the plane so that you can obtain proper care. On a cruise ship, you should also report your illness to the crew, as they may treat you in an onboard facility. However, if you have a serious illness, they may move you to a land-based hospital.

In addition, try not to travel if you’re already sick. Flying while you’re sick means you may spread the illness to the people around you, which will likely make your condition worse. Sometimes, airlines will waive their rescheduling fees if you’re too sick to make your flight, and some kinds of travel insurance will cover the cost of cancellation, as well.

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