Gripping the seat on either side of me, I braced myself for the arduous journey ahead.
Less than ten feet stood between me and the bathroom yet I doubted my wobbly legs would carry me that far.
Beads of sweat covered my forehead.
The normally soothing clickety-clack of each passing rail a thunderous clap in my throbbing head.
Clenching my jaw I tried to ignore the churning bile in my stomach. Any trace of food was long gone yet my body was gripped by one violent attack after another.
My feverish body threatened to collapse with every painful step..
I longed for fresh air…
Being sick away from home is no fun at all. When you are in a foreign country where you don’t speak the language and have no idea how to get to the care you need, that can be downright scary.
Luckily, I did not have to worry about any of that.
I was twenty, a senior in college, on the trip of lifetime — three weeks traveling through Egypt with a super cool professor who had lived there for three years while working on his thesis. He spoke arabic fluently and had befriended many locals, including a few “officials” and he would have done everything necessary to ensure I’d received the proper care had I needed it.
As it turns out, I was plagued with a 24 hour virus and once it had run its course I was no worse for the fare. I had missed out on one of the days I had looked forward to the most but I was back on my feet the following day, eager to keep up with my travel companions and enjoy the last week of our journey.
We’d been in Egypt for a little over two weeks and had enjoyed private visits to the typical touristy sites, including pyramids and temples, one more spectacular than the next…
Galloped bare back through the desert…
Rode camels ….
Sailed down the Nile on feluccas …
Even spent an afternoon with the American consul…
Some of my favorite experiences were days we’d spent with local farmers, enjoying home cooked meals and privileged family time.
This was our only day off and I’d chosen to take the train to Alexandria with a handful of my classmates. I’d heard so much about this vibrant port city I could not wait to get there.
I’d done everything right… Gotten all the required immunizations before leaving, including two very painful injections of gamma globulin …
Drank bottled water and only ate food that was fully cooked and recognizable…
Yet somehow that wasn’t enough.
Here I was, curled up across a couple of seats in a state of semi consciousness, wanting desperately for everything to stop.
This was by far the longest, most miserable train ride of my life and the only site I was able to “enjoy” while in Alexandria were the four walls of my hotel room.
In the end I had been really lucky but the memory of that God awful day remains with me to this day.
It’s one of the reasons why we’ve taken out a travel medical insurance policy for our girls when they’ve travelled outside of the US anywhere other than France.
Let’s face it, most people don’t think about their medical coverage when planning a trip abroad.
When you’re planning a dream vacation with your loved ones, a medical emergency is probably the furthest thing from your mind.
There’s so much else to think about, especially when you’re traveling with kids…
Planning the perfect itinerary, one that will allow plenty of play time for the kids yet give you ample opportunity to take in all the sites ….
Checking out reviews to find the perfect restaurants…
Packing… Ah yes, packing! That can be an adventure all of its own… How many pairs of shoes do you really need? Do you have enough diapers? Change of clothes? Do you need anything on the formal side or will casual do? Should you pack extra snacks? What about meds? Your diffuser and essential oils (those are always at the top of my list!)
And what about the dog? A ride to the airport? Did you remember to call your credit card company to let them know about your travel plans?
The list goes on and on…
The one thing we never plan on is getting sick but that is the one thing that can turn the perfect vacation into an absolute nightmare, especially if you are traveling to a far away place where you don’t even speak the local language.
And yet the key to your peace of mind is quite simple and inexpensive.
What am I talking about? Travel medical insurance from UnitedHealthcare Global. For about the price of one meal at a nice restaurant, UnitedHealthcare Global can let you enjoy your hard earned vacation absolutely worry free.
Here are the top five reasons to consider it:
Finding quality care
If an emergency should arise how will you find a qualified doctor or hospital? And what about asking for help in another language?
When you or a loved one needs medical care in another country, you want to make sure you are getting care from a reputable professional. Travel medical insurance links you with an emergency response team to help direct you to a doctor whose credentials have been verified. You’ll be able to speak to someone in your own language, ask questions and get referrals you can trust.
Keeping costs in line
As a teen I used to cross the border from El Paso, Texas into Juarez, Mexico, all the time. I always went with my siblings and a group of local friend and we were oblivious to any danger there. Now I’m a few hours away from Tijuana but rarely go there… Stories of tourists being pulled over for no reason and having to pay handsome fees in cash on the spot or risk going to jail might have something to do with that… Or the thoughts of waking up in a dark alley with an oozing scar where one of my kidneys used to be… Nightmarish! A missing kidney may be a bit far fetched but what about a ruptured appendix?
When it comes to medical care in foreign countries you will typically be expected to pay up front for all of your services before starting any treatment. Everything comes out of your pocket while you are still traveling. How do you even know if you’re being charged a fair price or being completely taken advantage of?
And what would you do if the amount required was more than you have with you? Or greater than the limit on your credit card?
You’d also need to keep careful records and submit everything for reimbursement once you get home. And because these doctors are outside of your plan’s network, you have no control over how much they may charge.
Travel medical insurance from UnitedHealthcare Global is designed to help with these costs at the time of service. Depending on the plan you choose, you may have a deductible. But that’s a choice you make ahead of time.
Getting home in a medical emergency
When my second daughter was five, we went on a sky trip to Mammoth Resort with a half a dozen other families. A couple of dads decided to take the little ones sledding one afternoon… They returned with my five year old in their arms, tears streaming down her sweet little cheeks, obviously in a tremendous amount of pain. When she described what had happened she said “my sled crashed into a tree. the tree broke the sled and twisted my leg.” A series of X-rays the following day confirmed she had a spiral fracture of the tibia. Luckily we were only a six hour drive from home and have a great insurance policy that covers our cost no matter where we are.
Can you imagine what would happen if you needed to be flown home in an emergency?
Whether it’s a ski or other sporting injury, a sudden onset of appendicitis or any other medical emergency your travel medical insurance will bring you much needed peace of mind. You can get help with:
- Evaluating your medical needs
- Choosing the best method of transport — including emergency medical evacuation to get home or rejoin your trip
- Making travel arrangements for your family
- Having appropriate care once you get home
Even the cost of bringing someone from home to be with you may be covered.
Handling non-medical problems
Ever lost a passport or credit cards while traveling?
Just before my fabulous trip to Egypt I stopped by for a brief visit with my older brother in Lubbock, Texas. We stopped for a quick bite to eat and upon returning to the car discovered it had been broken into and my back with my passport and visa had been stolen. (Clearly I was too tired to think straight or I never would have left my bag in the car…) This was days before my departure and during the Christmas season but since I was still in the United Stated I was able to get a replacement passport within 48 hours. I was also able to get a new visa at the airport, and thus enjoy this fabulous trip. I doubt things would have been so easy had I lost my passport while in Egypt.
The emergency response team at UnitedHealthcare Global can assist you — from a lost or stolen passport to emergency funds transfer or a referral if you need legal help. It’s a little like having a trusted friend back home to help you navigate in an unfamiliar land. 🙂
Safeguarding what you have already invested
For most of us traveling abroad is something we save up for, have fun planning and look forward to with extreme pleasure. Let’s be honest, traveling is not cheap. Plane tickets alone for a family of five can add up to close to $10,000! Add hotels, meals, random activities and you’re looking at an impressive sum.
Why take a chance a having all that money go to waist because of an unforeseen event?
In addition to helping with medical situations, you can add coverage for lost baggage, trip cancellation or trip interruption to your travel medical policy to help with costs that may arise in those situations.
Even better? A basic travel medical policy can cost about the same as a nice meal at a restaurant. For a 7 day trip, that’s only a few dollars a day! When you think about how much you are investing in your trip, it’s a small price to pay for added confidence.
What should you do next?
Check out MEDEX international travel insurance plans from UnitedHealthcare Global.
You’ll have a choice of coverage and deductible levels, sports riders, lost baggage coverage, and more.
Staffed by UnitedHealthcare Global professionals, the MEDEX Emergency Response Center is ready to help 24 hours a day year-round. Visit MEDEX for plan options and pricing.
What about you? I’d love to hear YOUR thoughts on travel medical insurance. Have you ever needed it? Do you routinely take out a policy when you travel abroad?
- When your child gets injured, the last thing you want to worry about is whether your healthcare costs will be covered or not. Thankfully, that's something my family has never had to worry about. It's not to say we have not had our fair share of emergency room visits. With three adventurous…