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Precautions for Family Travel

What happens when you or your child becomes ill while traveling in a foreign country? Depending on where you are, the experience can range from mildly stressful to nerve wracking. Regardless of the situation, it doesn’t hurt to be prepared before you leave home. Below are some precautions that can help minimise inconvenience and distress while on the road with kids.

  1. Check your travel or health insurance coverage before you leave home; specifically, review the terms that cover overseas travel. If you don’t have such coverage, consider purchasing travel insurance for the duration of your trip. Bring all health insurance identification cards, certificates and a claim form with you, as well as photocopies of your health records.
  2. If anyone in the family has a pre-existing medical condition, carry a letter from your doctor describing the condition and any prescription medications you are currently taking, including generic names for these drugs. Also, be aware that some medications are considered illegal narcotics in other countries, so you may want to check with the foreign embassy of the country you are visiting to be sure.
  3. Prepare the contact info for your embassy or consulate at your destination, in case you need medical or other assistance while abroad.
  4. Research the local health care system. Things don’t always go according to plan so it’s helpful to know a bit about the health care system of the country (or countries) you’re visiting. What’s the availability and quality of the local health infrastructure? Which hospital offers the best medical treatment? Are there threats of infectious disease, poor hygiene and sanitation conditions, or high risk of accidents? Have a look at international health organisation SOS’s Travel Risk Map to help assess the risks.
  5. Get a mobile roaming plan, even if you don’t plan to call home while away. You just never know if you’ll need to get in touch with your paediatrician or health service provider for advice.
  6. Have a local contact – if you don’t have family or friends in the country you’re visiting, try to get the number of a local contact from your personal or professional network. A friend of a friend will be fine; basically, it can be immensely helpful to be able to talk to someone who can provide insight to the local healthcare system, especially if you’re in a higher risk country where healthcare isn’t readily available.

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