Getting sick while traveling can be frightening, especially if you do not have access to adequate healthcare or medicine. And it can be tricky trying to decide whether or not you need to see a doctor or health professional, not to mention trying to find a good one who understands your needs.

But there are several precautions that you can take to minimize the chances of becoming ill abroad. Check that all your vaccinations are up to date before you travel. Your local health clinic should be able to recommend which ones you need. Travel with a first aid kit that includes all the basic things that you have easy access to at home, such as band aids, bandages and painkillers. It is also a good idea to see your doctor before you leave. He or she might prescribe some basic antibiotics just in case you should need them while away.

Purchasing adequate travel insurance is one of the best ways to take the stress out of getting sick while abroad. As long as you have health insurance, your every need can be taken care of, no matter where you are, and you won’t find yourself facing a big bill at the end of it. When planning certain sports such as rafting, diving, boating and skiing, it may be necessary to take out separate policies, so ensure you read the fine print before buying a policy.

If you are suffering from a current medical condition, it’s important that you disclose this to your insurers, otherwise, if you need to make a claim regarding the condition, your insurance may be invalid. Ask your doctor to write down the generic names of any medication you may take, in case you lose or run out of medicine.

Other precautions include using a condom when having sex to prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases and controlling your alcohol intake to prevent accidents and other health problems.

But sometimes you will get sick abroad. Non serious illnesses such as colds and minor injuries can usually be treated without seeing a doctor. If you know what medication you need, visit a pharmacy where you can usually find a wide range of medications on offer. But for more serious problems it may be necessary to find a doctor or hospital. Go to your embassy or consular representative for help in finding decent facilities or interpreters. The International Red Cross or the Association for Medical Assistance for Travellers Abroad should also be able to provide lists of English speaking doctors close to your chosen destination.

If you are staying in a hotel or resort, it is likely that staff there will be able to assist you in finding a doctor or other relevant health worker. It’s a good idea to travel with a mobile phone, especially when visiting remote areas, in case you should need to call for help. When heading out of towns and cities, ensure that you have some emergency phone numbers with you so that you do not get stuck. Most importantly, try not to worry. Heightened anxiety causes stress and it never helps you to deal with a difficult situation.

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