If you’re in the midst of planning your dream vacation to Europe, you may be imagining all of the wonderful culture, sights, and meals you’ll be enjoying. One thing that you may not have considered is what to do if you get sick. Whether you get sidelined for a few days with a minor stomach bug, or if you experience a more serious illness that requires hospitalization, getting sick on your travels could be stressful. Instead of worrying about the possibility, find out what to do if it happens to you.
Talk to Your Insurance Company
The first step to help yourself be ready for an international illness is to talk to your insurance company before you leave. Your health insurance provider may cover medical care across borders, so it’s important to check and see what your plan provides. If your insurance does not cover anything occurring outside of the United States, you need to know this ahead of time.
Consider Travel Coverage
For those who don’t have insurance coverage for illnesses or problems that occur abroad, you may want to think about purchasing a travel insurance policy. When choosing a policy, make sure you understand the coverage limits and exclusions. Read all of the fine print so you don’t get a big surprise if you end up needing to make a claim.
Visit a Pharmacy
Once you’re on your trip, there are some helpful tips to keep your illness from ruining your vacation and financial health. If you have a minor issue, in Europe, you can start to get relief by stopping by the local pharmacy. Unlike the pharmacies in the United States, European pharmacies focus solely on medication dispensing. You won’t find snacks or other grocery products at these locations. Additionally, you can consult the pharmacist for a recommendation to get relief.
Find Assistance From the Consulate
If you’re still having trouble and not feeling right, you may want to see a doctor. While European citizens can typically walk into any doctor’s office and get free or low-cost care, it’s different for citizens of the United States. Start by going through the local United States consulate to get some recommendations for care.
Look for English-Speaking Clinics
Your consulate or embassy should be able to provide you with a list of local doctors who speak English. If you’re already in an English speaking country like Great Britain, this isn’t much of an issue, but for all of the other countries in Europe, you may feel more comfortable being cared for by someone who speaks your language. The good news is that many Europeans speak English rather well, so you shouldn’t have a problem seeking care. The clinic may offer you a stronger prescription medication to help you get better.
Get a Second Opinion
If you are still experiencing issues after your clinic visit or with a new medication, you may need a second opinion or additional care at the hospital. If your illness gets worse, it may be necessary to find the closest hospital emergency department. In most European countries, you will need to pay the out-of-pocket cost after receiving treatment. The good news is that many countries in Europe have socialized healthcare, which gives everyone a much cheaper cost for medical services.
Stick With the Familiar
While you’re recovering, stick with familiar food choices to give your digestive system a rest. Sometimes, the local cuisine can make things even harder on your body. One idea is to pack a few essentials in your suitcase from your pantry to help you continue your normal diet even if you never get sick. You can take your favorite condiments, like Just Mayo from Hampton Creek, with you to help make a simple sandwich a little easier to stomach.
Get All Receipts
Most importantly, save all of your receipts whenever you see a doctor or go to the hospital during your trip. If you purchase medicine, be sure to save those receipts from the pharmacy as well. In most situations, you will have to pay upfront, but eventually, your insurance policy should be able to reimburse you after a few weeks.
Getting sick during your travels can be a real bummer, so be sure to plan ahead to limit this disruption. If you do get sick, take the time to rest and relax and follow your insurance plan’s policy instructions to ensure that you don’t have to get stuck with the bill.