Getting ill or injured whilst abroad in an unfamiliar environment can be a distressing and traumatic experience. You may know little about the country you are in or the way their health system works, and there may also be a language barrier. Luckily, there are ways to make this process a little smoother should you be unfortunate enough the require medical assistance whilst on holiday. Read on for the things you need to know, along with a few helpful tips…
Get travel & health insurance – no excuses!
The most fundamental of all requirements for travelling to another country, this is something you must do. A shockingly high 20% of people tempt fate, and their wallets, by going abroad without health insurance. It goes without saying, but please don’t do this. The money you could save by opting not to get insured is simply not worth the risk. If the worst-case scenario does pan out whilst you are away, then the costs could be astronomical. For example, requiring an air ambulance on the east coast of the USA could set you back up to £45,000 – and that’s just one of many possible situations. Take out a health insurance policy for travelling, and ensure that it covers the following:
- Coverage for medical/health in the case of sudden illness or injury abroad
- 24-hour emergency assistance
- Lost or stolen coverage
- Cancellation cover
- Added coverage for other activities such as skiing, bungee jumping etc.
Travelling in Europe? Get an EHIC card.
If you are a UK resident over the age of 16, then you are entitled to an EHIC card – which could prove invaluable on your travels. This card gives you rights to basic healthcare whilst travelling within Europe temporarily, in the event of sudden injury to your person, or illness.
Be prepared and reduce the risks.
Do your research prior to going away, and you could avoid these situations entirely. Whilst nothing is guaranteed and accidents happen, getting the know the country you are visiting can go a long way to allowing you to remain safe and healthy once you arrive. Get to know the risks, what and what not to do, the general environment and more in order to make your trip as smooth as possible.
Be aware of emergency & hospital procedures.
Many countries across Europe use 911 or 112 for the emergency services, but to be sure you should get the local number before you travel and either take note of it or save it on your mobile. In extreme cases, contact your insurance provider as most provide 24-hour assistance in cases of emergency. Your provider can then advise you on your next steps.
Get in touch with your embassy.
Should you end up in hospital whilst abroad, you should contact your nearest embassy as soon as possible. You will be put in touch with the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO), who will also liaise with your insurance provider, and any relevant family or friends.
Make sure you know where to go.
Study your local area beforehand so that you know where the relevant healthcare centres are, be they doctors surgeries, drop-in hubs or hospitals. Knowing exactly where you need to go will save valuable time and maybe even money as a result, especially in emergencies.
All in all, the chances are your trip abroad will be fun, productive and without incident. That being said, it always helps to prepare for every possible outcome. Follow the above steps for added peace of mind, allowing you to enjoy your travels as much as possible.