Here’s How To Not Spoil Your Vacation By Getting Sick Or Injured Overseas

Speaking from the vantage point of someone who has spent an entire day in a lovely hotel room in an amazing foreign city paralyzed with the flu and feeling like death would show up any minute, it’s awful to get sick on vacation overseas. Here you are, spending your hard-earned dollars and you can’t get out and enjoy your trip. So why not prepare against the worst before you go?

It’s a good thing we have wise, responsible older siblings at Consumer Reports to tell us what to do before traveling abroad this summer, because it turns out one in five Americans who leave the country suffer an illness or injury while abroad. No fun!

Read up on what’s going on where you’re visiting, before you leave: Check out the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Travel Health page to get information on which vaccines you might need. Avoid tap water and ice cubes in certain countries, and don’t eat food prepared with unsafe water.

Travel with the medications you need: A month before you leave, talk to your doctor about any recommended vaccinations, and ask about any other health issues you might have. Make sure you have enough of your prescription medications for the length of time you’re away, and don’t buy any meds while you’re gone, as they could be counterfeit. Keep any meds you need in your carryon bag in case your baggage gets delayed.

Stretch on the plane: If your’e in the air for more than 8 hours, it’s important to stretch your legs a few times to avoid the risk of dangerous blood clots. Drink plenty of fluids, dress in loose clothing and get up from your seat at least once an hour.

Avoid injuries: This one might seem like a no-brainer, but tourists are 10 times more likely to die of an injury than an infectious disease, so always buckle up while driving or riding abroad. If you aren’t driving, hire someone local who knows the roads and traffic laws if you can.

For more tips, check out the source link below.

How to avoid disease and injury while traveling abroad [Consumer Reports]


Edit Your Comment

  1. MrMagoo is usually sarcastic says:

    Boy, it’s good to see the lists are back.

    • Cicadymn says:

      I don’t even read them, I just come down to see the comments which always tickles me.

  2. SteveHolt says:

    Don’t drink the water either!

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      “Either” suggests an addition to what was already said. Yet, that sentiment exists already in the article.

      • Coffee says:

        Good thing being a pedant doesn’t compromise your immune system just before traveling.

        • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

          That’s probably the worst thing you’ve ever said to me, Coffee!


  3. Tim says:

    Travel almost anywhere but the U.S., and use the country’s free healthcare when you get sick or injured.

  4. Captain Spock says:

    Welcome Back Phil! Glad to know the “operation” went well!

  5. bnceo says:

    I can’t stress this enough: When you are planning to go overseas, look for possible needed immunizations. Some countries won’t allow you through without a card saying you’ve had this and this done.

    When the gf and I went to Peru last year, we got a bunch of shots just to make sure we were ok. We even traveled with a yellow booklet detailing our shots. In fact, some insurance companies will cover some of the cost cause they can get expensive.

    So please, do your research. Travel with mosquito nets, the spray, anti-poopy pills and such.

    Also, know the locations of your country’s embassies and consulates. They can provide info.

    • StarKillerX says:

      Good advice, all I can add is to do all this ASAP once the vacation is planned, don’t expect get all your immunizations two days before you leave.

      Some immunizations require multiple shots or a period of time, for example the vaccine for Hepitiis B requires a minimum of three shots given over a six month period of time (the second shot is one month after the first and the third shot is six months after the first.)

    • philside92 says:

      yes, always good to consult a travel doctor. i went to peru this year and got hep a/b and typhoid beforehand – avoided rabies and yellow fever because i wasn’t going to the jungle.

      peru is wonderful. can’t wait to go back.

  6. RandomHookup says:

    Last time I went to Greece, I stayed with my buddy who lives there. He ended up with traveler’s stomach and in bed for a week. I was fine (except I had no one to hang out with and no idea how to navigate around town).

    • j2.718ff says:

      What’s “traveler’s stomach”? The name implies it’d be experienced by someone traveling, and not someone who already lives in a given place, like your friend.

  7. 8pozzum says:

    I always travel with Imodium and Promethazine. They can literally save your life in lesser developed countries.

  8. Chmeeee says:

    “If you aren’t driving, hire someone local who knows the roads and traffic laws if you can.”

    Yes, when your cab arrives, first give him a thorough quiz on knowledge of maps and locations as well as have him go through a multiple choice driving exam for the applicable country.

    • who? says:

      This is especially applicable in China, where they don’t learn how to read maps, and bus drivers will routinely stop and ask some pedestrian for directions if they don’t know where they’re going.

      And don’t, for God’s sake, ever pull out a map, even if you have one. This will completely stop forward progress, since maps are a curiosity, and the driver will spend the next hour trying to understand it.

      • scoosdad says:

        A friend who travels to China on business frequently says that he always adds a couple of hours to the auto travel times given to him by his Chinese minders. When they say a trip from Shanghai to a nearby factory will take two hours, it’s usually five. One way. “China Time”, he calls it.

  9. RayanneGraff says:

    Oh, this brings back memories of the worst vacation of my entire life. It wasn’t an overseas vacay, but when I was 15 my family drove from OK to CA to visit my older sister. My dad came down with a bit of a stomach bug on the way there, but it wasn’t enough to knock him out or anything. When we got there, I came down with the same stomach bug but unlike my dad, it literally incapacitated me. I was violently throwing up every few minutes, along with with fever, chills, body aches, diarrhea, you name it. Utter misery. We had planned a trip to Disneyland the next day, and I naturally assumed that that would be reschedules due to my unforeseen illness. Oh no. Those fuckers went without me because they didn’t wanna ‘disappoint’ my 4 year old nephew. Yes, you read that right, my family left their deathly ill daughter home alone all day, in a strange house, in another state, to go to Disneyland. I didn’t even have a way to get a hold of them either(this was in the mid-90s, before cell phones were common).

    I laid in bed all day projectile vomiting, crying, and cursing them to hell with all the vitriolic rage a 15 year old can muster. They got back around 11pm and strolled in all smiles & laughter, raving about how much fun they had. Salt in the wound. I had never been as murderously angry at my family as I was that day, and I have never forgiven them for it(mostly because to this day they can’t understand why what they did was wrong, and refuse to apologize). No matter which way you look at it, leaving a sick kid home alone while you go to Disneyland is just plain fucked up.

    I did get some small measure of revenge though- while they were out having the time of their lives, I called my boyfriend back in Oklahoma. Long distance. For about 3 hours. Hope that $200 phone bill was worth it, you mouseketeering assbags.

    • George4478 says:

      >>mouseketeering assbags.

      Excellent name for a band.

    • Princess Beech loves a warm cup of treason every morning says:

      Oh god that *was* a horrible vacation. I’d be pissed, too.

      I never went to a Disney as a kid, though. By the time I had enough money to spend on a trip there, I was too old for it, so — meh.

      • Princess Beech loves a warm cup of treason every morning says:

        I meant “meh” to Disney and mousketeering assbags.

    • sprybuzzard says:

      Damn. That is 100 times worse than when I was dragged 6 hours away to the beach with hives the whole week from an allergic reaction.

    • HogwartsProfessor says:

      Gah! Sounds like something my family would do.

      I might have sent the rest of the family along, but you bet I would have stayed with you if you were my daughter. There’s no way I would have left you alone when you were that sick.

    • Jane_Gage says:

      You should have intentionally aspirated your vomit and died. See how your nephew likes temporary foster care and your parents like involuntary manslaughter and child endangerment charges. Win!

    • StarKillerX says:

      So, basically they should have all stayed by your beside to witness and the drama a 15 could muster? lol!

      • RayanneGraff says:

        They should have postponed the trip for a couple days till I got better, damnit. You don’t leave a sick minor home alone while you go have fun at Disneyland.

    • RayanneGraff says:

      Thanks guys, glad to know I’m justified in my anger. I would NEVER do that to a child of mine, hell, I wouldn’t do it to *anyone*. If someone is too sick to go somewhere with you, you stay home with them. Common courtesy, and the right thing to do!

  10. spartan says:

    Look both ways before you cross the street. And in the UK, Japan and the rest of the right hand drive world, that means looking right before you step off the curb.

    • j2.718ff says:

      Good advice. Fortunately, the crosswalks in London (and perhaps other heavily-touristed places) actually have arrows reminding you which way to look for traffic.

    • Martha Gail says:

      Whatever happened to looking both ways?

  11. luusyphre says:

    Don’t eat strange river fish, no matter how deliciously deep fried it is. That’s what I learned in Vietnam. Also that Ciprofloxacin is made of pure magic.

  12. j2.718ff says:

    Interesting discovery: in America (where I grew up, and reside), I’m lactose intolerant. In Europe, I’m not.

  13. Moniker Preferred says:

    While the info from Big Daddy Consumer Reports is useful, it’s generic (“Be careful? Sheesh!), and it’s not nearly enough. Don’t those people actually travel outside the USA?

    1. Find out what your own medical insurance covers while in the country you are traveling to. You may not have coverage at all!

    2. Find out what hospitals/clinics/etc. accept your medical insurance in that country. Many, maybe even most, will not accept US insurance.

    3. The “free” healthcare systems of many countries does not cover travellers. Yeah, some countries will patch you up at the emergency room (as they would in the USA), but just WAIT until you get that invoice!

    4. Some hospitals/clinics abroad will not treat you unless you have CASH. US credit cards will not count for squat. I personally knew a guy who broke his wrist and had to take a taxi from ATM to ATM until he could scrape up enough to pay for the fix. (It was cheaper without anesthetic, however…)

    5. Meds bought over the counter in the USA may require prescriptions in some foreign countries. Ibuprofen, for example.

    6. Learn how to say “I am sick”, “hospital”, and “ambulance” in the native tongue.

    7. Be certain you know how to get help in the middle of the night. Many times, saller hotels in Europe do not have desk or phone attendants in the middle of the night.

    8. Always carry a card with the name and address of your local hotel on it. This may be the only easy contact that local authorities have to reach your family, should you be unconscious, or worse.

    9. Do NOT, EVER turn on your smart phone while you are overseas unless you have a local plan and you know exactly what is going to happen. Even if you don’t make a call, text, or whatever, all those little apps will be checking with their masters. A friend (who should have known better) clocked up $100 in charges in the one and only time he turned his phone on. Better to have a dumb-‘ol GMS phone (T-Mo’s travel plan is extremely reasonable, especially for in-country calls), or rent a local phone or local SIM when you get there.

    • Moniker Preferred says:

      That’s “smaller” hotels, and “GSM” phone, not GMS.

    • James says:

      re: Do NOT, EVER turn on your smart phone while you are overseas unless you have a local plan and you know exactly what is going to happen. Even if you don’t make a call, text, or whatever, all those little apps will be checking with their masters.

      Not really – just keep data roaming off. I receive texts free overseas, don’t answer my phone, and use WiFi for email, internet, and calls for Skype. Plus my Google Maps is invaluable, and even without WiFi the GPS works (when reasonably synced) and costs me nothing.

  14. s25843 says:

    Lemme just say,, I got injured in Mexico,,, and the health care I received down there was better than what I got from my docs up here. I was shocked

  15. buddyedgewood says:

    Nice [commonsense] list… except I didn’t see any mention on how to prevent what the author started off with in the article: the flu!

    Oh, that’s right, there is no real way to prevent the flu here or while overseas… for the main reason: there’s quite a few variants of the flu. And more than likely, the bug that’s going around in the country you’re going to visit probably isn’t the same variety that’s floating around in your home country and you cannot obtain the flu vaccine for the foreign flu until you get there and then it’s too late…

    The only recommendation is to hope and pray you don’t catch the flu when in a foreign country. Otherwise, wash your hands all the time, wear surgical gloves and a mask, avoid being sneezed on, and enjoy your friggin vacation!

  16. Bagumpity says:

    There’s an upside! My college roommate and his girlfriend went to Cancun for spring break, and when they came back they had both lost over 20lbs due to a nasty combination of flu and e-coli. The young lady had to be hospitalized for three days, so it’s not a weight loss regimen that I would recommend.

    The stories about competing for toilette time were pretty funny, though. The systemic organ failures, not so much.

    • goheels83 says:

      I had to be hospitalized after getting horrific food poisoning at a Westin resort during spring break one year in the Bahamas…I was too sick to ask for a refund of any sort. I was just glad to be well enough to get on a plane home!

      When I got home my mom said “well that’s one way to kick-start your diet!” Thanks mom.

  17. donovanr says:

    Coconuts kill more people than motorcycles in the Dominican Republic; and watching them drive you would think that all DR motorcyclists die every day and their bikes are then quickly sold to the next generation the for the next day’s carnage.