When we are planning to travel, we think of fun, adventure, culture, and meeting new people. Whether we are flying to Paris, going to Kenya on safari, or thinking of a weekend of debauchery in Las Vegas, the last thing on our minds is injury.
However, traveling involves some degree of danger. You could trip and break a bone while strolling along the Seine, get into a car accident, get attacked by an animal or experience assault and robbery in an unfamiliar city or town.
Although we all want fun-filled and adventurous experiences, things can go wrong during your vacation and you need a plan on how to deal with it in case it does happen.
Here are some tips on what to do in case of an injury while traveling.
1. Seek emergency medical help
If you suffer injury while in your car or in the plane, ask for help from those near you.
Flight attendants are usually very helpful during health emergencies. You can always find someone around you on the streets or in a tour group to assist you if you get hurt during excursions.
It’s always a good idea to find a way to communicate with the locals in a foreign country, such as hiring a guide fluent in the local language, using translation services on the phone and learning a few words of the local language.
If you are in a hotel, ask for the in-house doctor to examine you. They may treat you or advise you on the local hospitals you can visit to receive further treatment.
If you don’t have a doctor near you, use the local emergency number to ask for medical help.
The emergency health providers will guide you on how to handle your injury and even send an ambulance to take you to the hospital.
If your injury is not too severe, you may take time to find reliable health care providers in your country of travel.
You can do this through societies that help travelers find medical care when traveling abroad, such as The Joint Commission International (JCI) and the International Society of Travel Medicine (ISTM).
2. Contact your embassy
Your embassy in a foreign country is there to give you help when away from your home country.
Have their contact and address information with you at all times.
Incase of injury while traveling, call your embassy, and they will help you by;
- Contacting your family and loved ones or any emergency contacts you have listed with them
- Giving you information about hospitals or doctors you can visit in your country of travel
- Assisting you to get financial help from home or organizing for your medical evacuation if your injury is severe.
3. Contact your travel insurance provider
If you suffer an injury when traveling, that requires medical assistance, contact your travel insurance provider immediately through the contact details on your policy documents.
Your travel insurance provider will guide you on how to get treatment and probably suggest medical centers in your country of travel you can go to.
If you are unconscious, it will help if you have your insurance information on you at all times to help your doctors contact your insurer and organize your treatment.
Once you receive treatment, ensure you keep all your medical documents as you may need them for compensation or further treatment when you get back home.
4. Pursue legal action
If your injury is caused by someone else either through an accident, an assault, or some case of negligence, you should make a personal injury claim.
Before you do that, it’s best to contact your personal injury lawyer, who will give you legal advice on whether it’s a viable cause.
Pursuing a legal claim will ensure you get justice and help you pay for any medical expenses arising from your injury.
It will involve dealing with the police and the legal representatives of the guilty party.
If your lawyer back home cannot assist you, find one in your country of travel you can trust to fight for you in court or negotiations.
5. Inform people back home
When you get injured abroad, it is important to let your family or loved ones back home know about it.
That means calling your immediate family and letting them know about your injury, where you are hospitalized, and how you are doing.
Keep the contact information of your loved ones with you at all times. It should include a list of emergency contacts such as your family members, doctor, lawyer, and travel insurance provider.
Additionally, include details of your health status such as allergies, current medications you are taking, and any pre-existing conditions with your contact information.
This information goes a long way in ensuring that the local doctors have the necessary information as they begin to address your injury.
Remember to visit your doctor for follow-up treatment once you get back home in case you need additional treatment or experience further complications.
How to avoid injury while traveling
We don’t always have to wait for an injury to happen. It’s always advisable to find ways to prevent it before it occurs.
Therefore when traveling;
- Stay away from areas where dangerous animals such as bears and snakes are likely to inhabit to prevent animal attacks.
- Pick the safest routes and means of transport to visit tourist sites and always use a driver you can trust to minimise the risk of car accidents
- Pack and use safety or protective equipment such as rock climbing and hiking equipment to prevent injuries when enjoying adrenaline-filled adventure vacations
- Keep away from places with suspicious individuals who may rob or assault you, such as shady bars, dark alleys and dodgy neighbourhoods
- Adequately train for extreme activities such as mountain climbing, scuba diving, or sky diving to reduce chances of accidents.
Although getting injured is the last thing on your mind when traveling, it is always a possibility. While we don’t want to spoil our vacation with thoughts of what could go wrong, it’s essential to be adequately prepared, in case things do.
Using the suggestions we’ve discussed in this post to prepare for such eventualities will keep you from being stranded in an unknown place in case you suffer from an injury while traveling.
It will also help you access help faster, get the right treatment, and reduce the risk of further injury.