When you are out on the road, there is always a chance that something could happen that requires medical attention. You may know the locations of the hospitals and clinics back home, but now you’re hundreds or thousands of miles away and you or a traveling companion needs help now! Don’t worry, we’re here to help. Here are some easy solutions to find medical care when traveling.
Traveling in the United States
I hope you never need this information, but if you find yourself in need of a hospital or clinic visit while you’re traveling in the United States, you have some options. The Emergency Medical Center Locator is a free iOS app that helps you locate speciality healthcare resources near you (including trauma, stroke, eye, pediatric, cardiac, and burn specialists). They only display locations that meet their requirements of a proven patient care track record, so if the nearest clinic is not displayed, it’s probably for a good reason.
From your browser, there are several sites that will let you search for nearby medical centers. FindUrgentCare.com allows you to narrow your searches to locations that accept your insurance. Urgent Care Locations lets you pick from categories of care available, clinics that are open right now, and whether they’re accredited/certified. The American Academy of Urgent Care Medicine has their own location search that will show you all of the clinics nearby, centers accredited by the AAUCM, or preferred clinics that are AAUCM members. And the Convenient Care Association, who specialize in retail-based healthcare locations such as those found inside Walgreens and CVS stores, have their own locator if your urgent care is not so urgent.
When traveling overseas, taking care of yourself starts before you even board the plane. You may want to start with getting travelers health insurance. There are many affordable options out there, and seeing as how we’re travel professionals and not health care experts, we’ll let you find the policy that is right for you.
Another important step, at least for those of us American citizens, involves the State Department. It’s always a good idea to register your upcoming overseas trip with the State Department’s STEP, a free service that lets them know where you’re going and lets you receive travel alerts or warnings before your trip. Also, note the location of the U.S. Embassy in the country you are traveling to, in case any emergencies arise (health or otherwise). The Center For Disease Control‘s site is also a wealth of information for any health issues you may incur traveling abroad.
If you already have all of the information on where you’re going to be staying on your trip, consider doing a little more research before you leave home. Search for medical centers near the hotel or office. Wikipedia has a very extensive list of emergency numbers in countries all around the world. The U.S. emergency number of 911 is not an international standard, so check this list for the countries where you will be traveling! Always make sure someone back home has the contact information for where you’re staying. If you have any medications, find how, where and if it is even possible to get refills in case your meds get misplaced or you run out. This post by On Call International is a good how-to on medications.
When you are in country and need help fast, the above mentioned emergency numbers work best. !Emergency! is a $0.99 iOS app that will help you find emergency numbers, medical centers, and embassies in foreign countries. If you are staying at a hotel, your best bet will be to call the front desk – they’ve handled emergencies before and can help with any language barrier.
Whether traveling domestic or international, always keep your medical insurance card with you (or a copy of it front and back) along with telephone numbers to call for guidance on receiving medical care.
Like I said, I hope you never need this information. Though be practical and at least bookmark this post in your browser as a reference just in case.
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