Recent research by Southern Cross Travel Insurance has revealed nearly a quarter of Aussies have fallen ill overseas. Of those that got sick, over half had to swap the beach for a medical centre to get treatment for their illness. So what should you do if you suffer a health mishap overseas? Well, according to Craig Morrison, CEO of SCTI a little bit of planning can go a long way. Here’s his top tips for staying healthy and happy on holiday:
1. Before you go
It pays to know the local health risks of the destination you’re visiting and being prepared before stepping on the plane. A few essentials to add to your travel planning list include:
Vaccinations - check smarttraveller.gov.au to see whether you need any vaccinations for your destination and book these well in advance. Some vaccinations need to be administered at least three to six weeks before you travel and can entail several trips to the doctor.
Add a basic first aid kit to your packing list, such as pain relief tablets, antidiarrhea medication, antihistamines and aloe gel. You’ll be grateful to have these if you do fall ill.
2. On the plane
Not all illnesses happen on holiday - planes can also be a hotbed of germs, so it’s important to:
Stay clean - use hand wipes before and after using the toilet, eating and, if possible, before touching your eyes and nose. Wipe down the dining tray, TV screen and remote – they are a breeding ground for bugs.
Stay hydrated - pressurised cabins equal dehydration if you’re not careful, so keep up the H20 intake.
Stay active - simple exercises get the blood pumping, which can help to prevent deep vein thrombosis and alleviate aching muscles.
3. If you do fall ill
However much you plan for your trip, unfortunately sickness can sometimes strike down even the healthiest among us. That’s where a comprehensive travel insurance policy comes in! If you need medical care on your holiday, there are a few important things to remember:
Only use a registered medical practitioner, as this will ensure you get the best possible care. You can arrange this through your hotel or call your travel insurer to be referred to a treatment centre, depending on your problem. If an illness is minor, a visit to the local pharmacy might be enough.
Keep all original receipts for medical expenses and request a copy of the doctors’ consultation notes as you will need to provide these when submitting a claim to your travel insurer.
Keep a list of prescription medicines and a short summary of your medical history handy. In case of an emergency, this will be one of the first questions you will be asked by a medical professional.
Medical mishaps are the last thing on anyone’s mind when they plan a holiday, but we encourage all travellers to be knowledgeable about the destination they are visiting and well prepared ahead of travel, to ensure smooth sailing and a worry-free vacation.