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Getting Sick While Traveling: What To Do And Who To Call

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Getting sick while traveling is literally the worst and I’m not being melodramatic here.  You just spent all that time, money, and energy organizing this big trip and then the universe STRIKES YOU DOWN for some sort of indecency that you committed in the last 10 years.  Really universe?  You couldn’t just wait a few more weeks?  Ever since my run in with Salmonella in China, I’ve been SUPER paranoid about what I’m drinking, touching, and consuming. I ended up loosing 6 kilos in 3 weeks because I literally couldn’t keep anything down and at one point, I fainted on the subway in Beijing and SOME HOW got myself to a hospital because not a damn person helped me. Thanks China. Since then, travel insurance and awesome nutrition has been a real priority of mine and it should be for you as well.  Getting sick while traveling is never fun, but here’s a few helpful tips about what to do and who to call before and after you get sick.

BEFORE YOU GET SICK:

1) Avoid ice in your drinks at all costs because it’s probably made with local water.

This is how most people get ill as ice looks so safe and delicious swirling inside of a cocktail or floating in a coke.  Opt in for beers when you drink or room temperature mixed drinks because no one likes a party girl/boy with exploding diarrhea…. just saying. Learn to love beer if you’re a big drinker when you’re at social events! It might save your pants later.

2) Buy Travelers/Health insurance.

For Americans, it can be super hard to find affordable travelers insurance for some reason and our European counterparts seem to luck out with massive deals for only 22 GBP a pop. What. The. Actual. Hell? Since most of my electronics are super old and I am planning on buying new everything this year, sometimes I just opt in for health insurance, but I get THE BEST around.

With that being said… remember that health insurance companies also partner with the damn devil and for some strange reason, renewing my insurance every 6 months is 600 USD cheaper than getting a full year’s of insurance. Who knows why.  I use GeoBlue Single Trip Travel Medical Insurance but it DOES require you to have a health plan in America to be eligible.  Thanks to Obama (yeah!), I’m able to still fall on my parent’s health insurance while I’m working freelance abroad. THANKS MOM!

3. Pound water with lemon in it, every day.

Lemon water is a super easy way to strengthen your immune system by absorbing tons of iron. I’m always trying to find better preventative health measures to avoid dealing with illness at all.

Dogs

AFTER YOU GET SICK:

1) Pound lemon water

Lemon juice is acidic and hostile to bacteria and viruses as well as packed full of iron. Do yourself a favor by pounding WARM lemon water to sooth a sore throat or sick tummy.

2) Breathe in steam

Try sneaking into a sauna or inquiring if there’s a day pass you can take advantage of at a gym or hotel while you’re on the road.  This will loosen up the mucus (sexy) and help clear out your nasal passages. If you have a kitchen at your disposal via AirBnB (Here’s some free money for that!), try putting drops of thyme or eucalyptus oil into a hot pot of boiling water and breathing in the steam for added benefits.

3) Sleep

You can’t beat the magic healing powers of sleep! Melatonin, the sleep hormone, is a fantastic natural anti-oxidant and can really give your immune system the boost it needs to fight off a tough cold or cough.

4) Take 500 mg of Vitamin C 4-6 times a day

I prefer to consume my Vitamin C naturally, but if you’re super keen on getting better quickly, take a Vitamin C supplement daily. If you start to get the poops, scale back on your dosage.

5) Schedule a Doctors appointment

With my GeoBlue health insurance, I can use their iPhone app to make an appointment with any doctor in the network anywhere in the world.  My hospital bills were once MORE than what I had in my bank account so I couldn’t put down the deposit, and they ended up covering the costs for me after a tearful conversation on the phone. Awesome awesome awesome service.  As I type, my doctor is actually coming to my apartment to make a house call because I might VOM all over someone on public transport. What a chap.

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  • Danielle Crouch

    Great suggestions, especially the vitamin C and having health insurance. If you are traveling to Germany (and I think Austria) I recommend the insurance company Dr. Walter. I had insurance through them when I was an au pair in Germany and also in the time between my au pair year and the beginning of university. The customer service is great, there’s no such thing as a “network” so you can go to any doctor, and Dr. Walter always paid for everything they said they would (and if they didn’t for some reason, I just wrote an email/resubmitted my papers with an explanation of why it should be covered and they paid it). The only two drawbacks to this company is they don’t cover pre-existing conditions or non-prescription medications, so if you have a chronic condition that needs regular treatment this wouldn’t be a good choice for you. But medications are much cheaper in Germany than in the US, so you could even get away with paying out of pocket.

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