In this article, we’re going to look at how to keep on top of your health when travelling, but before that, let’s touch on a fundamental principle when it comes to travelling – don’t do it without adequate health insurance.
See, everything else can be managed, as they are merely sensible precautions and preparatory aspects such as ensuring you have an adequate supply of your prescription meds along with a doctor’s letter to prove that you are in lawful possession of such tablets.
This is particularly true if they are controlled substances, such as the common drug that treats ADHD, Ritalin, which is lawful in many countries – presuming you have an active diagnosis and legitimate prescription… yet, in other countries, these drugs are banned and treated in the same class as ecstacy or cocaine. Meaning, if you are caught with these medicines without a prescription – it’s akin to entering a country with Class A drugs in your suitcase.
In this vein, a lot of keeping on top of your health does come down to simple tips that we all know. Aspects such as getting your vaccines updated, not drinking water from the tap in certain countries, making sure fruit hasn’t been washed in water and that you can peel it… and the list goes on.
Yet, there is one underlying aspect of keeping on top of your health when travelling which is the vital importance of travel insurance. This is something most people underestimate, and many don’t even bother with – presuming they’ll be alright, and in most cases they are thankfully proved right.
See, you can have the best preparation and vigilance in terms of your healthcare, yet if you get caught off-guard or are subject to an event that’s unexpected and outside of your control; such as an earthquake – it doesn’t really matter. You need help, and you need help fast.
This is where travel insurance comes in, as adequate cover is worth its weight in gold, yet so many people fail to take it out or take out only the basic cover thinking that all will be well, only to come unstuck in the event of an emergency.
THE IMPORTANCE OF TRAVEL INSURANCE
In reality, if we thought we were going to have an accident whilst on holiday, we would probably cut our losses and stay at home – meaning there’s often a sense of denial or naivety when it comes to the prospect of getting sick or injured abroad. Indeed, we often feel we are invincible, until we aren’t… and it’s at times like this that we truly value the safety net that travel insurance provides.
Indeed, Murphy’s Law often has a funny way of creeping up on us when we are wanting to enjoy our vacation, and can often catch us unawares, as we don’t have the healthcare in place either through lack of administrative support or practical infrastructure.
If you find yourself in a serious condition, in a remote area or part of the world that is relatively undeveloped, then there’s a strong chance you’re going to need to call in a helicopter to pick you up and transport you to a suitable facility – which might not even be in the country you are visiting.
For instance, if you are in Burma, then there’s a strong chance you would have to be flown to neighbouring Thailand to undergo intensive lifesaving treatment as the facilities tend to be much better in the comparatively affluent Thai capital of Bangkok than in other parts of this region.
However, when it comes to accessing healthcare abroad, money is a fundamental currency, and if you don’t have the cash in place to pay for your treatment – then you are totally dependent on the limitations of your insurance policy. For this reason, it pays to take out travel insurance that covers you for almost anything, and up to very high amounts, as whilst the premium you pay might seem significant, the amount it covers (or rather the things the lesser policies will not cover) are much more significant.
Therefore, take travel insurance seriously, as it’s not the type of thing that you will call upon to replace your contact lenses, it’s something that will be called upon at times of absolute necessity where the difference between having travel insurance and no travel insurance could literally be the difference between life or death; particularly in third world countries.
That said, even in the US, if you are from a country such as the UK that is used to receiving free healthcare, it would come as a shock should you get sick at a popular travel destination such as Florida. Almost everyone will be entitled to lifesaving treatment, meaning, the authorities are unlikely to not attend the scene of an accident and administer lifesaving treatment, but upon entry into hospital, one of the core requirements before further treatment will be initiated is that you prove an ability to pay – whether this is through insurance or Visa!
Healthcare is expensive, and we often travel without adequate insurance on the basis we assume it “won’t happen to us”, yet almost everyone that has been in an incident, felt that exact same way.
Consider this, a person is riding a motorbike in Thailand, and as a result of a crash that renders him unable to use his legs he is now in a state of paralysis. With the correct insurance in place, he is flown to a private hospital where he is treated and then transported back to his home country to receive even more effective medical intervention. However, because he didn’t have private insurance, he is taken by a rickety ambulance to a “local” hospital with no nurses (as many countries expect the family of in-patients to take care of nursing duties), dogs roaming the hallways, and little prospect of being able to leave; as the cost of medical evacuation flights are phenomenally expensive.
The point being, nobody expects to be the person on the motorbike that crashes and ends up in a local hospital. We all expect some external force to step in and take care of us, yet, unless you have particularly rich relatives or huge savings – the only external party that is in the position to help in these instances is an insurance company.
Your health is your most valuable asset… as without it, all the money in the world won’t make any difference – so out of all the insurance policies to consider taking out, a decent travel insurance policy is a wise investment.
However, try to avoid the super cheap policies that have so many exclusions you would be lucky to ever have a claim honoured; particularly be careful with terms that exclude claims made as a result of an act of terrorism, as you never know when this could happen, and in the awful event of something like this you would want to be sure that your insurance would cover you for treatment.
Also, be sure to check the activities you wish to undertake on your trip are covered – as most won’t insurance policies won’t cover adventurous sports like whitewater rafting and some won’t even cover relatively low risk activities like bodyboarding.
In summary, this is not a list of all the tiny things to take care of in terms of keeping on top of your health when travelling as the majority of people know what to look out for and what they need to do. It’s a wake up call to the importance of getting adequate travel insurance so that you are protected in any event.