What To Do If You Get Injured While Travelling.

Gap Year First Aid Tips

No one ever thinks that bad things will happen to them, but bad things do happen from time to time and when they do, it is important to be prepared. Beyond basic minor injuries you are going to need to seek proper medical attention because no one will expect you to know how to treat a major wound, but what do you do after that? What about the admin side of getting injured when you travel? Here is your step by step guide on knowing exactly what to do if you get injured abroad.

If you get injured abroad, a broken bone, a slip and fall, whatever it might be, your first and most obvious priority is to seek help and treatment. This isn’t an article on how to give you enough medical knowledge and training to treat yourself, this is what you can do for yourself to prepare for the worst and after you have sought medical help. But where exactly do you go to do that? What help can you expect? How do you deal with the aftermath once you have been treated? I get that most people will not be thinking of these things if the worst happens, and many won’t give them a seconds thought until it is too late, but it is really important to be prepared and just have a basic idea of the admin side of what to do if you are injured while travelling.

Be Prepared.

Before you even set off on your travels it is really important that you prepare for the worst as much as possible. Odds are you may never need them, but do you have complete and comprehensive travel insurance in place? Including full repatriation if necessary? Have you planned enough flexibility into your schedule to rest, recuperate and deal with emergencies if they occur? Do you even have a basic first aid kit? C’mon now!

Understand Local Healthcare Requirements.

Again, as part of your basic pre trip preparation you should research what the healthcare system is in the places you are visiting. Are you travelling mainly in big cities where good healthcare facilities are nearby? Or are you travelling more remotely where extra planning may be needed to organise transport? Does the country you are visiting have reciprocal healthcare arrangements with your home country? What is the local emergency number? Know before you go!

Seek Medical Attention.

Now this goes without saying really, for anything other than basic first aid you will need to seek medical attention. If it is an emergency then you will need to call the emergency services, or hopefully someone will do that for you if you are unable, or seek help from local healthcare providers if it is not an emergency.

Have Funds Ready For Medical Bills Or Prolonged Stays.

Depending on where you are and the type of insurance you have you may need to pay for some – or all – of your medical expenses up front before you can claim it back. Apart from having a new found appreciation for the NHS, you will need to have emergency back up funds to do this. Another expense most people don’t think about is accommodation while you are recovering or even a flight home. No one wants to be staying in the party dorm with twenty head sutures or after surgery.

Check Your Credit Card Policies.

On top of the extensive travel insurance you definitely did buy, didn’t you, the credit card you used to pay for the flights or trip in the first place may be able to help as well. Depending on your bank and card you have some do have travel insurance benefits although this is usually extremely limited. What you may be able to do however is get cancellation benefits for any flights, tours or activity that you have bought but will need to cancel or have missed and get some cash back that way.

Document Everything.

This is the important part that so many travellers forget about in their panic or rush to be treated. If you need to put an insurance claim in you will need as many supporting documents and as much evidence as possible. This could include:

  • A doctor or other medical practitioner’s report. This should detail the nature of your injury and immediate treatment.
  • A hospital admission or emergency room/A&E report, if you’re admitted to hospital.
  • Any ambulance and med evacuation reports.
  • A police report if they were involved.
  • Any other relevant documentation or witness statements related to the accident.

Now you may not always get the opportunity to get all of this straight away but in most cases you can go back and ask for copies of any documents or reports.

Keep Your Receipts.

For the same reason as above you will need to keep receipts and documents for everything. This includes any payments you have made to the hospital for treatment, any after care medication you may have been prescribed, any extra expenses occurred through prolonged stays or transport costs, as well as all of your original travel documents and any emails or confirmations of cancelled flights or other bookings. It’s a lot, I know, but the insurance companies will do everything they can to pay as little as they can. This is one of the ways you will get what you are owed.

Look After Yourself.

Whether you decide to continue your trip or return home will depend on how you feel and the nature and severity of your injury obviously, but no matter what you do make sure you take enough time to rest and heal properly. If you have enough flexibility in your plans this shouldn’t be a problem. Your travels will still be there when you are fully healed.

Just make sure that whenever you travel, you are well prepared and have comprehensive insurance! No one ever wants the worst to happen and odds are it absolutely won’t, but if it does, you’ll be glad you have it!

Did you enjoy this article? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below or on my Facebook or Twitter pages and please feel free to share it with any or all of the social media buttons. If you want to get more great backpacking tips, advice and inspiration, please subscribe to updates via email in the box to your right.

7 Easy Steps To Deal With Medical Emergencies On Your Gap Year.

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The Essential Travel Health Checklist Before You Go On Your Gap Year.

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What You Should Consider Before You Start Planning Your Gap Year.

Why Travel Insurance Is Essential On Your Gap Year.

Michael Huxley is a published author, professional adventurer and founder of the travel website, Bemused Backpacker. He has spent the last twenty years travelling to over 100 countries on almost every continent, slowly building Bemused Backpacker into a successful business after leaving a former career in emergency nursing and travel medicine, and continues to travel the world on numerous adventures every year.

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Posted in Travel Health, Travel Tips
6 comments on “What To Do If You Get Injured While Travelling.
  1. bcre8v2 says:

    Essential info! I have sporadically purchased travel insurance, but after a I heard about a friend’s husband who had to be airlifted home (from one US state to another) after he fell, the cost was $20,000 out of pocket! My friend had to tap into her retirement funds & max out her AmEx card to get him home. That and possible travel disruptions due to Covid scared me enough to purchase the best travel insurance I could. Didn’t need it, fortunately, but really eased my mind.

    • Yeah there are SO many stories like that, especially in the US! It’s always one of those things, no one likes buying it and you probably won’t need it but IF you do, you will be so glad you did!

  2. Ben says:

    Some very useful tips, thank you

  3. Lee says:

    My takeaway from this is skill yourself up to Bear Grylls survival levels and you’ll be alright no matter what. 😂

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Hi, I'm Michael! I'm a former nurse turned published author and world travelling professional adventurer! I have spent over twenty years travelling over 100 countries and I want to inspire you to do the same! Want to know more about me? Just click here!

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