Falling ill while you are overseas can be stressful and sometimes spoil a holiday or trip. Though unfortunately nobody has control over when and how they become ill, there are things that can ensure a quick recovery, minimising stress for you and your travel companions:

What to do if you fall ill overseas

  • Seek medical help. If an illness is minor, a quick trip to a local chemist or pharmacy may be enough. Many overseas chemists are very good at diagnosing and treating minor illnesses caused by local factors. In many countries pharmacists also often speak some English. Remember however that in other countries, medicines may be provided in different doses to the UK. Always take note of the pharmacist’s directions, and the instructions for taking medicines.
  • Seek help from your insurer. If a medical issue appears to be more serious, contact your travel insurance company and ask for advice as soon as possible. Your travel insurer will know the best hospitals and doctors in the area, and will be able to advise you on the best course of action. This way, as long as you have adequate medical cover, you won’t be stuck with any medical charges, and you will be sure to receive the best care possible.
  • Seek help from your hotel. If you are staying in a hotel or resort you hotel will likely have a doctor on call that speaks English. Ask reception if you need help, and they will advise you or provide assistance.
  • Be prepared. If you are travelling in Europe you should always carry a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) which gives you access to state medical care at a free or reduced cost. Check this is still in date, or renew it before you travel. In addition to and EHIC, you will also need to take out adequate travel insurance. An EHIC will not cover you if you need to return home.
  • Have a Doctor’s note. If you suffer with a chronic illness then it is advisable to carry you medication with you, kept it in its original packaging, and with a copy of your prescription and Doctor’s note. This way, if you do need to visit a doctor or hospital they will know exactly what you are taking, and how to help your condition. You should also check ahead of travelling, that the medication you plan to bring with you is allowed into your destination.
  • Tell your Doctor on your return home. If you have been ill while overseas it is wise to mention this to your doctor upon you return. They may have further advice or feel it necessary to continue treatment.

To best prepare for a trip and to stay illness free, you can take a few pre-travel preventative steps:

  • Make sure you get the right jabs. Visit your local doctor or nurse at least six weeks in advance to discuss the relevant inoculations and medications you will need.
  • Bring an adequate medical kit. Having the basics: painkillers, rehydration powders, plasters, bandages and anti-bacterial wipes, could make all the difference.
  • Avoid ‘traveller’s tummy’ by steering clear of drinking tap water, drinks with ice in, salad or fruit that may have been washed in tap water, or food that may have been left uncovered or badly cooked.


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