(In the unlikely event) be prepared for a hospital stay

Being injured is bad enough when you have the luxury of recovering in your own bed with loved ones nearby, but what happens if the injury occurs while traveling?  
  • Before you leave, don’t forget to get some form of traveler’s insurance, such as World Nomads insurance. This can be easily obtained and extended online. And don’t forget to carry your policy number with you and a scanned copy in your email account.
  • Know your blood type and if you wish, carry a blood donor card on you.
  • Be aware if you are being put up in a private (more expensive) room without being asked based on your “foreigner” status. Know what you are being charged for.
  • If at all possible (and if your condition allows it), find and take a friend that can translate for you at the hospital and stay for any operations you may need. It can be terrifying (and I say this from experience) to be drugged up in an unfamiliar place while having surgery performed on you without the comfort of a common language. Most hospitals in major cities should have an English speaker available but don’t count on it.
  • Contact your embassy. They can provide you with a list of local doctors and medical specialists. If you’re injury is severe, they can help you seek medical help and contact your family if you so desire.
  • If you should happen to need financial assistance because of illness or injury, consular officers can help to contact family, bank or employer and arrange for a transfer of funds.
  • You always have a choice. Doctors can be persistent but you always have the final call on what is or is not done to your body. Medical practices can vary dramatically so be informed and do your own research if you have internet access.


Spending well-intentioned vagabonding time in a hospital bed can be frustrating at the very least. Try to see it in a positive light– make friends with your roommates, practice learning the language, catch up on some reading or writing and know that this is all part of the big adventure.

Posted by | Comments (2)  | September 12, 2008
Category: General

2 Responses to “(In the unlikely event) be prepared for a hospital stay”

  1. Shaula Says:

    > “You always have a choice. Doctors can be persistent but you always have the final call on what is or is not done to your body.”

    This statement is largely true, but presupposes you are conscious and lucid.

    I would also suggest:
    – wearing medic alert bracelets (/jewelry) for any drug allergies or medical conditions
    – planning ahead and carrying a laminated (i.e., waterproof) wallet card with a list of allergies, medical conditions, and emergency contact info, in English and translated into the primary language(s) of your host country

    It is also wise to travel with contact information for your primary care physician in case you need drug prescriptions refilled, and, a copy of your corrective lenses prescription for anyone who wears glasses or contacts.

  2. Marcus Sortijas Says:

    Buying travel insurance is a must-do, just as important as your passport. I normally use Internatonal SOS. (http://www.internationalsos.com/buymembership) You can buy a membership online, and even specify down to the dates of travel. Then print out your membership card.

    What I like about them is that they’re NOT an insurance company; they’re an international medical provider. While an insurance company might be slow to respond to a claim, International SOS operates medical jets, hospitals and doctors all over the world and will assist you right away.