10 Essential Travel Packing Tips & Hacks - Minimalist Traveling
How to Obtain Medical Advice While Traveling
For some travelers, seeking out medical help in a foreign country can be a daunting challenge. Depending on where you’re headed, your prior knowledge of the destination country and language, and many other factors, you may find yourself too far out of your comfort zone to secure medical assistance in a timely manner. However, by making sure you’re able to talk to professionals back home and know how to navigate your destination country’s medical system, you won’t have to worry about getting medical advice while traveling.
Talking to Officials in Your Home Country
Bring a phone that has international coverage.Depending on your cell phone plan, you may not be able to make calls with your phone while abroad. Before leaving, pack a phone with an international roaming plan that will be able to make calls to your home country.
- How much international coverage costs will vary depending on your mobile carrier. T-Mobile, for example, offers an international package for a lump sum payment, while Verizon charges a daily fee for roaming in many countries.
- If you’re traveling abroad for a month or longer, consider investing in a foreign SIM card with international coverage. This will ensure you have a working local phone number that isn’t charged to your domestic phone plan and can still make international calls.
Call the medical advice hotline for your primary care provider.Most primary care providers offer a 24-hour health advice number that customers can call from overseas for medical information and advice from doctors and nurses. Contact this hotline to get immediate medical assistance from professionals in your home country.
- Nurses you speak to through this hotline may be able to give you basic medical advice, assist you with making an appointment at a local hospital wherever you’re traveling, and pass a message on to your family in your home country.
- Many health insurance companies also offer a 24-hour advice line, and the phone number will most likely be printed on the back of your insurance card. However, you should still save the number to your phone before leaving on your trip.
Ask guides or travel agents for assistance, if applicable.If your trip has been set up by experienced professionals, these individuals may be able to help in a medical emergency scenario. Talk to them about any medical issues that may arise during your travels.
- Travel agents are typically trained to help their clients during medical emergencies by making appointments on their behalf. Consider relying on them to guide you through your emergency and treatment.
Consult your travel insurance company to discuss treatment options.If you’ve taken out comprehensive travel insurance before traveling, this policy could help you get cost-effective and reliable treatment for medical issues while abroad. Call the company’s help number or your insurance agent to find out what treatment option is best for you.
- A good travel insurance policy will be able to pay for your medical treatment, emergency transportation, and evacuation if need be.
- Make sure to pay close attention to what your policy includes. Reading your policy carefully can help you understand what you may be liable for and how best to work with a foreign health system.
Get in touch with your doctor if you have a preexisting condition.If you have a chronic or permanent condition that you regularly seek care for, immediately call your doctor if you run into an issue relating to that condition. They will have an intimate knowledge of your circumstances and will be able to provide quality assistance.
- Make sure you alert your doctor to your travel plans and talk with them to figure out how best to travel safely.
- For example, if you’re on dialysis or have had a kidney transplant, you should consult with your doctor both before and during your travel for help in making all necessary arrangements to stay in good health.
Contact your embassy to find additional resources.Citizens of some countries can call their embassy in their destination country if they need help with medical situations. The embassy may be limited in their immediate ability to help you, but they can often provide key resources and advice for getting access to medical care abroad.
- The embassy will also be able to help wire money from your home country to help pay for bills or even airlift you out of the country if needed.
Using Local Facilities
Learn how to describe common medical ailments in the local language.Wherever you’re traveling, study how to say things like “doctor,” “flu,” or other common medical words in the native language. In a crisis, you don’t want to have to rely on other people hopefully speaking your language.
- For example, some helpful Spanish words to know would be “dolor” (pain), “estoy enfermo/enferma” (I am sick), “doctor/doctora” (doctor), and “gripe” (flu).
Familiarize yourself with the national health system.Different countries have national health systems that are funded and administrated in different ways. Knowing how medical treatment works in your destination country will help you figure out how best to get access to local medical advice.
- Your home country’s government may have information on different countries’ health systems available for traveling citizens. For instance, the U.S. State Department’s website provides information pages on a variety of countries that includes safety and security information as well as details about how to deal with medical issues.
Locate the nearest hospital to your intended destination before arriving.If a medical crisis occurs, you may be too stressed or personally incapacitated to figure out where the nearest hospital is. Before you leave your home country, determine where you should go in an emergency during your travels.
- The website for the U.S. embassy in your destination country includes a list of doctors and hospitals in the country that the American government recommends to its citizens abroad. Consider using this list to determine which hospital or care provider you should rely on.
- For more specific results, you can also simply type the name of the city or region you’ll be traveling in into a search engine and add “hospital” or “doctor” to you query.
Study the country’s transportation system to learn how to get to a treatment center.Each country has its own system of public transportation that may not necessarily be intuitive. Get comfortable with the local transit system to know how to get to a medical office in that country.
- Observe the usual rules for planning for medical emergencies. No matter what country a person is in, it's important to stay close to populated areas for the best chance of getting medical advice in an emergency situation.
- Travelers are advised not to go into wilderness areas or other remote places without a plan for addressing medical emergencies.
- Study the local transportation grid. Getting timely medical attention may include knowing how to find the best times for travel to a medical center. Having key knowledge about trains, buses or local transport can help you get through a maze of traffic and access good medical advice quickly.
Download a translator app to your phone if you're unfamiliar with the language.Although you will hopefully have studied some useful medical words, you may still find yourself in a situation where you’re unable to communicate your emergency. Download a translator app to ensure you’re able to be understood in a crisis.
- iTranslate and Microsoft Translate are also both well-regarded translator apps.
- For Asian languages, your best bet would be to go with Naver Papago Translate.
Find a human translator if necessary.One of the biggest challenges to getting treated medically in any foreign country is often the language barrier. Find translation resources before you arrive and figure out how to obtain an interpreter or translator in case of a medical emergency.
- Consider using lists published by professional translator associations to find an interpreter. Groups like the Federation of Translators, the American Translators Association, and the Institute of Translation and Interpreting all provide lists of reputable freelance interpreters to select from.
- Make sure that the interpreter you hire understands cultural contexts behind the language they’ll be speaking. You’ll want to be sure the person you hire will pick up on subtle nuances in their translating.
- The best means of getting medical advice while abroad is actually to get it BEFORE you leave. Have a pre-travel consultation with your doctor before traveling, especially if you have a preexisting condition.
- Some countries deal with diseases like malaria or Ebola more frequently than others. Familiarize yourself with local medical conditions before traveling to any foreign country.
Video: Must Know Medical Advice for International Travel
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