If you’re traveling for leisure, you want to discover the world and experience new cultures. If you’re traveling for work, you want to focus on business. In either case, the last thing you want is to get distracted by illness. Unfortunately, you can’t rule out this possibility completely. It’s best to be prepared. With the right preparation, you can minimize the risk of getting sick in the first place—and if you do get ill, knowing what to do and where to turn will be a big help. This guide covers everything you need to know.

Pack your suitcase with essentials in case you get sick

Staying healthy abroad starts when you’re packing your suitcase at home. Bring items to help improve sanitation and cleanliness, like antibacterial wipes and hand sanitizer. If you’re traveling to an area that still has COVID-19-related masking requirements, make sure to pack masks as well. You may also want to bring items that can help you beat jet lag if you’re going to another time zone, such as a sleep mask and melatonin.

You should also bring a basic medical kit with you when you’re on the road. Items to pack include acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or aspirin in case of headaches or pain. If you have allergies, antihistamines are a must. You may also want to bring antibiotic ointment, bandages, and disposable rubber gloves in case of minor scrapes or cuts. Finally, make sure to bring all of your prescription medications. Pack these essentials in your carry-on bag so that you have easy access to them, even if your checked luggage is lost.

Invest in an appropriate travel insurance plan

You probably have a health insurance plan to help cover costs in case you get sick or injured at home. However, this health insurance probably won’t cover you when you’re in another country. That’s why it’s so important to get a comprehensive travel insurance plan. Travel health insurance can help cover medical expenses. Some plans even offer emergency evacuation services, which can be especially useful if you’re traveling in rural or underdeveloped areas with limited healthcare access.

When shopping around for travel insurance, do your due diligence. Compare details like geographic coverage, financial limits, and costs. For example, some travel insurance plans won’t apply if you’re going to a country that’s deemed high-risk by a government agency like the U.S. State Department. Finally, look into plans that provide all-around coverage, including not only health insurance but also travel insurance. Travel insurance can help reimburse the costs of stolen or lost luggage, for example, or fees associated with canceled flights.

Bring a copy of all your necessary medical paperwork

Once you have your travel insurance, make sure to keep a copy of the details, like the policy number and who to contact for a claim. You can use a PDF converter to compile all your essential healthcare-related documents in a single file. Simply upload your document and convert it to a PDF. You can then combine PDF files for easy access. For example, in addition to your proof of health insurance, you might also want to bring along your medical records and copies of prescriptions you regularly take.

Having all of this information in a single PDF means you don’t have to lug physical papers with you. A PDF is also ideal because you can access it without the internet. Even if you don’t have WiFi or mobile network connectivity, you can pull up a PDF that’s saved on your phone, tablet, or laptop. This is handy since you might be avoiding data roaming when you’re on the road. Plus, some places have poor network connections.

Take steps to stay healthy while you’re on the road

It’s great to be prepared. However, ideally, you won’t get sick at all while you’re on the road. There are steps you can take to stay healthy, such as eating well, staying hydrated, and choosing accommodations with fitness facilities. If that isn’t possible, look for other ways to get your physical activity, like walking or biking to get around. Research shows that regular physical activity boosts the immune system and can even reduce anxiety.

The type of accommodation you book also makes a difference. For example, instead of checking into a hotel where you have to share elevators and other enclosed spaces with a lot of people, opt for an Airbnb or a motel with a private entrance instead. Your daily habits are another factor. Regular hand washing can help kill bacteria and viruses responsible for illnesses. Medical News Today provides pointers on proper handwashing techniques. Handwashing is especially important after you’ve been on public transportation.

Know what to do in case you do get sick

Even with the above steps, it’s impossible to rule out the possibility of getting sick completely. This is why it’s so important to take these precautions. If you have a cough and you’ve packed cough medicine, you’ll be thankful. If you need medical attention and you have your travel insurance on hand, you won’t be stressed about money. If you’ve got your healthcare documents easily accessible via PDF, you won’t have to waste time hunting for them. As you can see, being prepared is a big bonus.

Still, there may be cases where a more serious illness or injury occurs, and you need professional medical assistance. When this happens, it’s good to know where to turn. The U.S. State Department has a roundup of consulates and embassies abroad. These local resources can connect you to qualified medical providers in your destination if needed. When seeking healthcare abroad, keep in mind that language barriers may be an issue, and bring an interpreter if needed. Also, make sure to bring relevant documents, like insurance.

While you don’t want to get sick while traveling, it doesn’t hurt to prepare. Taking the above steps can help you stay healthy. Plus, in the event that you do get ill, you’ll know what to do and where to get help. Advanced preparation now can save you stress later.

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