Travel Insurance and Tips to Avoid Sickness In Vacation

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Travel Insurance

One of the biggest concerns when travelling to foreign countries is how to avoid catching bugs or a bad case of the 'tourist trots,' especially when your health insurance is not covering oversease health costs and you don't have a travel insurance. It can be hard to know what is safe to eat and what should be avoided. No matter how careful you are, however, it is very easy to unwittingly expose yourself to bacteria, germs and viruses. That is one reason why taking out travel insurance is very important.

Some basic awareness, plus following a few simple food hygiene tips, can help avoid a nasty case of Delhi Belly, Montezuma's Revenge, or whatever the affliction may be called in that part of the world:

* Make sure food is well cooked and very hot (to kill any bacteria present)
* Avoid food that may have been left sitting out at unsafe temperatures (i.e. buffets)
* Be wary of buying food and drinks from street vendors
* Avoid consuming sauces/condiments that have been left on tables
* Don't eat garnishes (they may have graced many plates!)
* Avoid drinking tap water, milk, and stay clear of ice cubes in drinks
* Avoid salads/lettuce (washed in water)
* Stick to sealed, bottled water or boil or purify it yourself
* Be wary of some airline food, especially if taken aboard in a foreign country
* When it comes to fruits and vegetables - if you can't peel it - don't eat it!

Be careful when consuming locally-produced drinks such as rice wine or 'arak' (several deaths occurred in Bali following ingestion of methanol-laced rice wine).

If you get sick with diarrhoea and/or vomiting it is important to stay hydrated. Sip purified water, tea or soft drinks (preferably drinks without a lot of sugar or additives). Only resort to using anti-diarrhoeal medicine when you are absolutely certain you need it, as the downside is developing constipation. Avoid drinking alcohol and eat dry food like crackers and toast until the worst is over.


In most cases, a bout of diarrhoea from contaminated food will knock you off your feet for a few days and the duration of the illness can vary. If symptoms persist or are unusually severe always seek medical help to rule out anything more serious. If outpatient tests are carried out, ask for copies to take with you and obtain receipts so that you can claim on your travel insurance. If hospitalization is required you will normally need to obtain authorization for treatment by calling the hotline provided in your travel insurance policy.

If you have been bitten by insects, especially mosquitoes, and develop suspicious symptoms like fever, chills or flu, always seek medical attention. Serious diseases like malaria take several days to incubate so symptoms may not appear until after you have returned home. If this happens arrange an appointment with your doctor and explain that you have been travelling.

A few more reminders:

* Always clean and treat cuts to avoid infection and Tetanus
* Carry a first-aid kit and hand-sanitizer with you
* Use mosquito-repellent products
* Wear light-coloured clothing to easily spot mosquitoes, ticks and bugs
* Take steps to guard against tick bites and Lyme Disease
* Be wary of swimming in fresh-water pools in tropical areas (however tempting it looks). It is possible to pick up parasitic infections like schistosomiasis from infected water
* Get all recommended vaccinations, including a Tetanus booster if needed
* Carry a list of contact numbers for the embassies in the areas you are visiting in case you need help finding an English-speaking doctor or other assistance

Other common ailments which can affect travellers include: Altitude sickness, heat stroke, heat exhaustion and serious sunburn. The latest concern to worry about is exposure to Swine Flu; if you think you may have been exposed and develop symptoms seek medical help. A good travel insurance policy should provide for emergency medical repatriation to get you back home once you are fit enough. However, always read the terms and conditions of your particular policy so that you understand the cover provided.

A wide variety of bad bacteria and diseases may just be waiting for an unwary victim or host like you to come along, so do your research and be prepared before leaving home. It is your trip, your money, your life - so use your brain - and don't make yourself an easy target for anything to bug you!

Written by Jean Andrews, who is a freelance writer living in the UK. She regularly contributes articles for Travel Insurance Agencies Ltd ( which offers great deals on UK Travel Insurance and Travel Insurance for residents of Eire.



But this one? <em>Be wary of buying food and drinks from street vendors</em>. Argh...that's one of the best parts of traveling. Who could go to NYC and not have a street hot dog, or Jamaica and not have a "patty" from a street vendor. Do be careful, but do live a little.