What to do when you fall ill abroad

PHOTO/Rob Stapleton/AJOC

Travel requires some mental toughness and physical fitness. When you travel across many different time zones, you need to be in extra good shape. So what if you become seriously ill or injured while traveling abroad? Here are some helpful tips to remember.

International calling plan

Enroll in an international calling plan before you leave home. Find the program that offers you access to international calls from any local phone. If you can use the program only from "international" phones, you may not be able to use it in need. Remember, the 800 toll- free number is of no use if you are calling from overseas.

Emergency contact numbers

Keep handy emergency phone numbers including local police, fire and the nearest U.S. consulate or embassy. Local consular offices can notify family members back home in the event of an emergency. They can also assist in the transfer of funds from the United States if needed.

Insurance coverage

Carry your health insurance card with you and check with the provider ahead of time to find out what types of medical services are covered while traveling abroad.

Prescription drugs

Medications should be kept in the original container with doctor’s name, item description, and so forth attached. Do not mix medications in the same container. When going through customs, a lack of a label may cause officials to question items as possible illegal substances. Also, know the generic name of any medications you are taking.

You can’t stop from getting sick while you are traveling. However, the best protection is prevention. Here are some tips to stay healthy.

Dollar bills

Have enough dollar bills. Nothing is more frustrating than having a bunch of 20- or 50-dollar bills when you are in the need of dollar bills for tipping or for airport carts. Baggage claim is where many back injuries occur. It is a small price to pay for the cart or for the porter compared to injuries you may suffer for the rest of your life.


Push water through your system constantly while flying to avoid dehydration. Avoid alcohol and sodas with caffeine that can dehydrate you even more. Air in the passenger cabin is extremely dry. A lack of water can also cause constipation, which is more common than diarrhea when you travel. Take some fiber products to deal with this.


Do you realize how noisy it is inside the cabin when you are airborne? Noise is one of the top causes for fatigue and stress, whether you are traveling or not. Take some ear plugs or a noise desensitizer.

Flying objects

If you are seated on an aisle seat, be extra careful. Many people are injured from falling objects from the overhead compartments. Laptop computers are small, but are heavy enough to cause major injuries. This can happen any time during the flight, boarding or deplaning process.

Have a safe and nice trip!

Yoshi Ogawa is president of ITC Travel & Tours.

11/12/2016 - 11:48pm