The world has gotten smaller and even the most faraway places have been made accessible to us through modern travel. Whether you’re travelling for business or pleasure, you’ll want to make sure you’ve packed all the things you may need on your trip. But have you prepared yourself for the possibility of facing an emergency abroad? Here’s how to make sure you won’t be in for a nasty surprise if illness or injury strike while you’re on your trip.
Step 1: Awareness and prevention
Health care systems and resources vary from country to country, so you may be in for a nasty (or pleasant) surprise if you need to access a health care provider while abroad. Regardless of where you’re going, you will want to educate yourself on any disease or illness you may have to deal with while travelling and make sure your vaccinations are up to date.
If travelling abroad, you should also keep your eyes open for any travel advisories. On occasion, there may be outbreaks of transmittable illness or there may be endemic (but preventable) illness within that region. If you’re not sure where to obtain reliable information, you can go to a travel clinic where you can obtain advice on how to protect yourself from getting sick while abroad. Travel advisories can also inform you about potential security risks you may encounter when visiting other countries and help you plan your travel appropriately.
If travelling within Canada, make sure you have your provincial health card with you. Most provinces, Quebec being an exception, have an agreement (called the Canada Health Act) that will waive any emergency health care facility and provider fees for the patient. It’s important to be aware that this often does not include any ambulance or interfacility transfers, however, so it may still be useful to purchase private travel insurance for this purpose.
Step 2: Preparation
If you’re travelling outside the country, make sure you pack a sufficient supply of medication. It’s also wise to have a list of your medications, allergies, and health issues in case of an emergency. Many of us have smartphones—did you know that such phones have an emergency app that can store and disclose this information in cases of emergency? There are also handy apps like Travel Navigator that provide you with up-to-date health and security information as well as connect you with the help you need in the event of an emergency abroad.
You should also look at the terms of your travel health insurance and see what’s covered if you get ill or sustain an injury while travelling. It’s good to have a copy of all your travel documents in a secure digital format in case your paperwork gets lost or stolen. If you have a chronic medical condition, not all insurers will cover you for complications arising from that condition. If you’re pregnant, familiarize yourself with the rules for air travel as some airlines will not allow pregnant travellers to board the plane during the later months of their pregnancy.
Step 3: Reaction
Sometimes, despite your best efforts, illness may arise or you may get injured while travelling. Do you know what to do in case of an emergency? It’s important to stay connected, know how to access your health care, and know who to call for help. All of this can be understandably overwhelming when you’re far from home and this is why we provide tools like Travel Navigator that can help you find a health care provider anywhere in the world and link you to health care support wherever you are.
No matter where you’re going, we have the tools and resources to help you stay informed, safe, and healthy before, during, and after you travel.
For more insight, check out these health articles.