Whether it is a month-long backpacking tour in Europe or a 12-day trip in Japan, what we mostly have in mind when planning a trip are the itinerary, budget, and the checklist of things to bring. However, what most people usually overlook is preparing for possible injuries and untoward incidents while traveling. It may seem like a bit of a buzzkill to think about accidents while planning a trip, but it doesn’t hurt to be prepared.
Below are some of the most common injuries while traveling:
- Traffic Accidents. This is partly due to being in unfamiliar roads with different traffic laws. It is important to pay extra attention when driving or cycling.
- Heat stroke and dehydration. Many American travelers go to places with warmer climates. Dehydration also happens when travelers engage in activities like hiking, touring, camping, and other vacation activities. Aside from this, travelers also tend to drink more alcohol when on vacation.
- Trips and Falls. There is a tendency for travelers to always be in a hurry, may it be to catch a plane or a train. Wearing flip flops and sandals also cause accidents.
- Sports Injuries. Travelers try more engaging and dangerous activities on vacation, such as zip lining, water skiing, prolonged swimming and sunbathing, snowboarding, and diving, among others.
Travelers, especially adventure junkies, should give safety utmost priority and importance when traveling. According to the CDC, 18 to 24 percent of deaths of travelers abroad are due to injuries. When you plan a trip, make sure to take necessary steps to ensure your health and safety. Weeks before your trip, let your doctor know of your plans so that he or she may recommend ways on how to minimize risks for injury. If you intend to do extreme sports on your vacation, make sure to have enough training beforehand. Also, consider the climate and altitude of the place you are going to when you train. Aside from this, do not forget to pack a medical or emergency gear. Wear protective gear while you travel and have your emergency kit with you at all times. Lastly, secure travel insurance. Some insurance health policies do not include injuries during travels, so it is important to get travel insurance before your trip. There are companies that offer stand-alone adventure travel insurance, and the representatives can help you locate medical services when you need them and can arrange emergency travel services for you when needed.
There are sources from which you can get information regarding the available health care assistance abroad:
- The International Society of Travel Medicine (ISTM) has a directory of healthcare professionals with travel medicine expertise in about 50 countries.
- You can also search the Joint Commission International website for accredited healthcare facilities at your destination.
- The American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (ASTMH) has a list of clinicians outside the U.S.
If you have travel insurance, call the insurance company and ask for assistance in looking for medical facilities in the area, or assist you in arranging a transfer home, if the transfer is necessary for your condition. In case you will have to be transported home, contact your doctor. It would help to give your doctor a heads up so that he or she can prepare for your arrival.
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