What To Do When Sick On An International Vacation

After months of prepping and planning, nothing is worse than not feeling well or getting sick while on vacation internationally. Depending on the severity of your condition you may have to cancel the trip or worse, seek medical attention. Getting sick while traveling outside your home country can be confusing and expensive if you don’t plan properly. With a little research and planning though, a lot of the headaches can be avoided by following some of the tips that we’ve outlined below.

International Travel Prep

Anytime that you travel, there are always a number of things to take care of before your trip. When traveling internationally, the number of tasks that need to be taken care of prior to departure can dramatically increase. A lot of times when planning a trip we often neglect to consider looking out for our health which could complicate things should problems arise. Traditional coverage may not cover you for medical problems in another country, but there are ways to get around this.

Coverage from Credit Cards

Some credit cards offer free airport lounge access and some even offer free flights for your family or companion. But did you know that a number of credit cards offer some type of travel insurance coverage? You can find some of the best policies for trip interruption coverage. It’s important to also remember that not all credit cards offer the same coverage. Most credit cards are good for cases of illness where you need to end your trip early. If you need hospitalization benefits then you better off having regular travel insurance.

1. Chase Sapphire Preferred

The Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card is one of the best credit cards to travel with. Like a lot of traditional carriers, the Sapphire Preferred card covers your travel bags. The Chase Sapphire card also covers travel accidents as well as travel interruptions.

Chase Sapphire Preferred - What To Do When Sick On An International Vacation

The card also features higher payouts than most other cards. The membership allows for reimbursement of canceled trips up to $10,000 in non-refundable expenses per trip. You also receive $500 in trip delay benefits.

The cardholder and their immediate family members are covered by the plan. This is one reason why the Chase Sapphire Preferred card is considered one of the best.

2. American Express Platinum

The AMEX Platinum credit card is another great option for traveling coverage. The card features some of the best medical evacuation coverage. This is a good option especially if you do a lot of international travel.

For some people, a big fear is that you become seriously injured while traveling abroad. For the cost of medical evacuation, the costs are in the tens of thousands. This is not even accounting for any medical treatment that still needs to happen.

The Premium Global Assistance Hotline can coordinate medical evacuation from the point of illness or injury. A medical professional must determine that medical evacuation is required in order to use the benefit. The American Express Platinum card offers great value but it does have some limitations. The card also comes with a $550 annual fee.

Credit Card Limitations

When it comes to insurance coverage, any coverage is better than no coverage. However, you should make sure to read about your travel cards limitations as to what is and what is not covered by your policy. Although the benefits of travel card policies can appear similar there are small differences in the coverage that you receive that you should be aware of.

Some policies have limited coverage but allow you to purchase additional coverage if needed. Others policies might be only secondary coverage. For these types of policies, they work with your existing medical coverage for reimbursement. Knowing these ins and outs will help you to understand what to expect.

Getting Travel Insurance

Contacting an illness or becoming sick while overseas can be a headache, no pun intended. Having travel insurance prior to departing on your trip is definitely well worthwhile. There are a number of reputable companies that offer such services such as World NomadAllianz Travel Insurance or Travel Guard just to name a couple.

Aside from the standardized coverage of items like your personal belongings, varying levels of health coverage are usually also included in the policy. The policies can seem similar however, it is a good idea to read over the fine print to get an accurate picture of how each of the coverages works.

Using Travel Insurance

Hopefully by now you know never to travel without a travel insurance especially if you have kids! There are lots of types of travel policies and travel insurances that offer multiple types of benefits. Policies usually offer a mix of coverage for personal property and health. Most policies will have restrictions and requirements that must first be met. The process is not difficult but is required in order to take advantage.

Requirements For Coverage

For injury, illness or any serious medical condition, it must be disabling enough for reasonable person cancel, delay or interrupt their trip. The medical condition in question must be documented and verified by a medical doctor. You will be able to have coverage applied after that has been accomplished.

In order to use the pre-trip cancellation benefit, based on your condition, you will need to see a medical doctor. The doctor will need to advise the cancellation of your trip on or before the scheduled departure date. By doing this, you can ensure proper reimbursement of your travel costs.

Injury while on vacation

The travel interruption benefit is great and can come in handy if you suffer illness or injury during your trip. In order for the benefit to be used your medical condition must result in medically imposed restrictions. These physician certified restrictions must be made at the time of the incident and prevent you from continuing your trip.

Hospitals & Urgent Care

Most travelers don’t plan to make a trip to the hospital or urgent care while vacationing, but it can happen. Going to the hospital can be scary enough as it is. Now add the fact that you are in another country and unsure what level of care you may be given. Not every country has the same standard for healthcare.

If you need medical attention and are overseas it’s important to notify your primary care physician. If you have health insurance back home, you will most likely be following up with them once you return. Usually, you’ll need to have things approved to have them covered by your insurance. By keeping your doctor in the loop, it can help expedite the process.

Tips For Finding Medical Attention

If you need medical attention you should contact your travel insurer to see what your options are. If you have credit card traveler’s insurance or additional health insurance coverage, you can contact them for referrals. These companies can provide better instruction versus picking a medical facility at random.

The cleanliness of a medical facility is a good indicator as to its safety, as a good rule of thumb. If your insurer advises a location, they are fully experienced and in selecting quality medical services. The local public perception of a medical facility is also something worth noting.

What To Do When You Get Sick On Vacation

Anytime something is not clear, make sure to ask questions so you can understand the whole process. It’s vitally important to know what is happening to you. Most hospitals will have a translator available if you need that as well.

Make sure to give accurate information to the medical staff. Demographic, personal medical history, and insurance information will need to be collected. In order to ensure that you don’t get stuck with the bill, you should provide accurate information. Medical procedures and medical transportation can be quite expensive and can be time consuming to correct.

Common Sense

If you follow a few tips on how to stay healthy while traveling, you’re more likely to return home healthy. 

Some of the most common types of illness that can occur during a trip are from dehydration and food-borne illnesses. Both of these can cause further injury if left uncorrected. 

Dehydration is a problem that can easily be fixed by drinking plenty of water daily. Sometimes it helps to have a beverage that has electrolytes like Gatorade or something similar. Anytime you travel you need to make sure to stay hydrated because you can become affected by climate and elevation.

Another thing to be mindful of is the food that you eat and where you get the food from. Typically speaking, in foreign countries food from street vendors are riskier than food served in a restaurant or cafe. Trying new foods that your body is not used to can also result in giving you some digestive problems. Overall, it’s just important to be careful and mindful of what you are eating when traveling abroad.


After months of planning and saving, becoming injured or sick while on vacation doesn’t have to mean a total loss. You can protect yourself, your belongings and most importantly, your health with a good travel insurance policy or travel card. There are lots of options regarding types of coverage. With a little research you can find the perfect policy to protect you and your family as you travel abroad. And never leave home without packing a few hygiene essentials as well as packing your own first aid kit to save money on simple emergencies you can handle on your own.

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