February 2, 2018

What to Do If You Get Injured While Traveling Abroad

Injuries never happen at convenient times, but there may be no worse time to get hurt than during a trip. If you’re engaging in high-risk activities like rock climbing or cliff-diving, you might anticipate an injury, but even if you’re taking a leisurely vacation, anything can happen. Bathtub slips, stairwell tumbles, traffic accidents, and everyday scrapes and bruises can happen in a hotel or resort just as easily as they can happen at home. Follow these steps to deal with injuries abroad.

Practice First Aid

Image via Flickr by dlg_images

The same first aid principles apply no matter where you are. If you’re bleeding, apply direct pressure and elevate that body part above heart level. If you or someone in your group has a head or neck injury, wait for professional help, and don’t try to move. Clean wounds immediately with soap and water to prevent infection.

Seek Medical Care

Your hotel, hostel, or rental host should be able to help you get in touch with a doctor or hospital. If your situation isn’t an emergency, you can Google “English-speaking doctors in [city]” to find assistance. The International┬áMedical Association for Medical Assistance to Travelers can also help you find English-speaking doctors worldwide at no charge, although the organization does accept donations. If you have travel insurance, call the number and see if your insurer can put you in touch with a doctor. In a true emergency, reach out to anyone nearby for help with calling an ambulance.

Self-Care for Minor Injuries

If your injury doesn’t require medical attention, practice good self-care. Keep wounds clean and lightly covered. Ice swollen joints, rest them, and keep them elevated. Ask your hotel or host for any supplies you need. A supportive brace or elastic bandage can work wonders for a sore knee or ankle, but be careful not to overuse it. Injured joints need rest.

Evacuation for Serious Injuries

If you need serious medical care, you’ll need to be evacuated to your home hospital. If you’ve planned ahead by┬ápurchasing aMedjetHorizon membership, you’ll have all the essential help with coordinating your evacuation, whether it’s due to injury, political unrest, violence, or terrorism. Without that support, you would need to manage all the arrangements yourself, which could be overwhelming.

Check Your Insurance

Even if you didn’t buy travel insurance, you may still have some coverage available through the credit card you used to pay for the trip. Most credit card travel insurance is extremely limited and may not provide much help to an injured traveler. However, there are a few cards that carry more useful benefits. While none of them will cover medical or evacuation expenses, some have a trip cancellation benefit that will reimburse you for the portion of your tours, flights, cruise, or other expensive activity that you’ll have to miss.

No one plans to get hurt on a trip, as injuries are almost always unexpected. If you find yourself with an injury abroad or while visiting a new city, make sure your top priority is to find access to the medical care you need to recover. It is important to keep safe while traveling during all times of the year and throughout your travels. So be prepared and have the right care and coverage to protect yourself!


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