How To Cope With Getting Sick Abroad
Before you get sick!
Nothing will make getting sick easier than having good travel insurance. Whilst having a cold might not slow you down too much, anything that requires medical attention can be, a) super expensive and, b) might affect your other plans, like causing you to miss a train or a flight! For example, if you’re traveling in South East Asia, a rabies shot (and you need several if you get scratched) can set you back US$80 a pop! So, save your precious dollars an insure yourself.
Also, before you get sick!
Know the common issues of where you’re going. Can you drink the water? Are the animals safe? What’s the emergency number? I have a pocket health guide for travelers that has gotta be one of the most useful travel guides out. I got mine from the travel doctor, but the book “The Art of Staying Clean and Healthy While Traveling” is also pretty fantastic.
Ok, so now you’re sick…
- Take a day. Maybe this is just me, but taking one day off just to sleep and rest and drink soup is way better than battling through several supremely average, feeling-like-crap days. I’ve also found that when on marathon, month-long trips, taking a ‘sick day’ just to sleep every so often is a cure-all. For most things (a cold, food poisoning, questionable viruses, etc.) a day is really all to takes to knock it out, while pushing through tends to drag it out for aaaaages.
- Use the day to re-plan whatever you’re missing. Losing time when you travel sucks, even if it is only a day, so use the chill time you have to re-work your plans for the next couple of days.
- Ease back into it. Don’t wake up at 5am the next day and stay out until midnight. Do the gentlest activities you can that day so your body has as much recovery time as possible. Don’t be in denial about being sick (I always am and I end up going from a slight cold to a week in bed on antibiotics).
- Carry a water bottle everywhere (and hopefully actually drink from it)! It’s one of the easiest ways to help your body recover.
- If you do need medical attention (or even if you’re not sure), don’t put off going to the doctor. If you’re in a country where you don’t speak the language, try to find the nearest international hospital. They usually have access to translators and (if in a poorer country) they will often have a greater range of services due to their pay-up-front system.
Getting sick abroad has such a feeling of unfairness to it; you’ve PAID to be here doing awesome stuff and your body should APPRECIATE IT! If you plan ahead and are nice to your body, it doesn’t have to be a trip-killer though.