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Camping is a brilliant way to experience the great outdoors and unplug from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Setting up tents or putting yourself into your unused sleeping bag for a couple of days allows you to reconnect with nature and explore sights that you’ve never seen before.

Though a medical emergency is something no one wants to face on a camping trip abroad. It’s often difficult to access proper medical care while so far from home, and camping in a remote location means you’re likely too far out of range to manage a call for help. Though arming yourself with the proper knowledge of first aid and an understanding of the risks involved with your specific trip, you’ll be properly equipped to resolve an emergency while camping.

The following are a few tips on how to deal with an emergency while camping abroad so that you can keep your cool if it happens to you.

Use the Tools in Your First Aid Kit

You should never camp without a first aid kit. A simple safety precaution which is an absolute must for every camping trip whether at home or abroad, you’ll be more able to handle medical issues while away if you’re well-stocked with emergency supplies.

Bring any medications that you use, including allergy medications and over-the-counter pain relievers. And make sure you have plenty of gauze, bandages, rubbing alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, tweezers, small scissors, tape, etc. that you need to clean and dress wounds, remove ticks, and more.

Take a Class

In addition to carrying a first aid kit and knowing how to use the items within it, it’s also a great idea to take a class on the Heimlich Manoeuvre and CPR before your trip.

These are life-saving techniques that you’ll need at a moment’s notice while you’re far from home on a camping trip.

Pack Your Mobile Phone

Though you may want to unplug while you’re camping, it’s a good idea to pack your mobile phone in case you run into an emergency. Store emergency numbers in your phone and make sure that you also pack your charging cable so you can rest assured you’ll be able to use it.

Even though camping means you may not have cell reception, mobile phones are still handy when you need to make emergency phone calls, and, for instance, US cell carriers are required by the government to accept any and all emergency 911 calls, regardless of your cell phone plan (roaming, bills paid, etc).

It’s possible for you to be out of range of your normal provider’s towers (so it looks like no service) and to have roaming voice disabled, but for the cell to still be able to talk to other towers for emergencies. So take along your mobile phone just in case.

Satellite phones are also an option for remote trips as they are GPS enabled devices that can track your movement and have the capability to send pre-programmed messages to notify friends and family at certain intervals that you are ok, as well as the ability to send SOS requests to law enforcement.  If your destination is truly remote, a satellite phone can save your life!

Know How to Treat Hypothermia and Hyperthermia

Lowered or elevated body temperatures can be dangerous, especially when you’re exposed to the elements and you can’t get yourself to a temperature-controlled environment quickly. Therefore, you need to know how to treat both hypothermia and hyperthermia while at your campsite. The thermometer you packed in your first aid kit will come especially handy in these emergency situations.

Hypothermia: To treat hypothermia, which is a body temperature under 35°C, try to figure out the cause of the drop in temperature. Remove wet clothing items, and replace them with dry clothes. Have the individual drink warm broth or liquids to raise the body temperature, and be ready to leave the campsite for the nearest medical centre if conditions don’t improve.

Hyperthermia: To help someone with an elevated body temperature that may be dealing with dizziness, moistened skin, and nausea, you need to take steps to reduce the dangers of heat stress, heat stroke, and heat exhaustion.

Remove the individual from the sun and go to a shaded area if you don’t have an air-conditioned cabin. You can create shade with a tarp, if necessary. Make sure the person drinks water and removes warm clothes while you call for emergency services to come help or you take the person to the nearest medical centre.

Travel With Health Insurance

Make sure your health insurance is up to date before you head out on a camping trip, and ensure that your policy includes coverage for emergency medical evacuations. Evacuation coverage typically covers expenses associated with a medical emergency that requires you to travel to find the nearest qualified medical facility. It also includes the cost of returning to your home country (in some cases) or back to the country where evacuation occurred.

Emergency medical evacuations are necessary in catastrophic medical events, and as a global traveler you need to be prepared. Though as you can imagine, the expenses associated with such an evacuation are incredibly high. So if you’re hiking and find you need to be airlifted out, or find yourself camping in a location where the medical care is poor or inaccessible, insurance which covers a medical evacuation can save both your life and your wallet.

International Health Coverage with GeoBlue provides fantastic insurance for emergency medical evacuations, and this service is available 24/7 no matter where in the world your camping trip may take you.

I advocate for GeoBlue Insurance because their policies offer the most complete set of benefits and services in the industry and essentially provide a worldwide, all-access pass to an exclusive level of care.

They have an elite network of doctors from most every specialty ready to see you in over 180 countries, and GeoBlue doctors and hospitals bill them directly so you don’t have to even worry about filing a claim, and you don’t have to lay out any cash.

For more information about coverage with GeoBlue, or to obtain a free quote, contact Timothy Jennings at IndividualHealth.com.

A health insurance broker we trust, Timothy has worked in the international and US domestic market for more than 30 years and offers travelers a range of different options on plans and coverage including short-term travel medical (generally less than 6 months), annual renewable coverage for expats, and coverage for business groups worldwide.

Get Your Free Quote

The GeoBlue mobile app is also a fabulous tool for locating the medical facilities around your destination. You can prepare for medical emergencies by familiarizing yourself with the contact information of the hospitals and clinic located at your destination. It’s always good to know where the nearest trusted doctor is…just in case!

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Megan is an Australian Journalist who has been travelling and blogging since 2007, with the main aim of inspiring others to embark on their own worldwide adventure. Her husband Mike is an American travel photographer, and together they have made the world their home.

Committed to bringing you the best in adventure travel from all around the globe, there is no mountain too high, and no fete too extreme! They haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on their list.

Follow their journey on Facebook, TwitterYouTube, Pinterest and Instagram.

Photo credits by order of appearance. emifaulkChristopher MichelDLG Images, Meg Jerrard, Tony WebsterBureau of Land ManagementMcKay SavageChristopher MichelemifaulkGopal Vijayaraghavan

    70 Comments

    • Glad you found them useful Lizzie! First aid is definitely a skill which you should have on hand for any travels, not just camping, so totally recommend getting yourself enrolled in a course 🙂 Could come in very handy one day! Safe travels 🙂

  1. So much good information here. Thanks for sharing.
    I think it’ll come in handy, even if you are just travelling.
    Jeffrey Scott recently posted…O is for OnionsMy Profile

    • Glad you found the post resourceful Jeffrey 🙂 And absolutely – first aid should be knowledge every traveler keeps handy even if they’re not camping 🙂 Safe travels!

  2. Ive always loved camping, but haven’t done it in ages! The hubby and I starting to talk about it though. These are great tips and important reminders. Interesting about the emergency medical evacuation insurance. I’m hearing more and more about it, sometimes from people who have actually needed to use it, too. Definitely worth consideration.
    Cathy Sweeney recently posted…A Taste of Burgundy in California Wine CountryMy Profile

    • We just spent the weekend camping in the Channel Islands and had a wonderful time. Luckily we didn’t run into any troubles, though emergency medical evacuation is definitely something which is not only important re safety, but also for that peace of mind knowing you’re covered when you’re traveling somewhere that remote.

      Let us know if you have any specific questions regarding the insurance and we would be happy to help 🙂 Safe travels and happy camping!

  3. It’s definitely best to be prepared in these situations! Though I love the outdoors, I’m not too big on camping myself, but I have many friends and family that LOVE camping (it’s a pretty big thing to do in the summer here!). Having travel insurance is definitely a good idea. Better to be prepared!
    Lauren recently posted…24 Stunning Photos of St Thomas From The OceanMy Profile

    • Absolutely, always better to be safe than sorry! Make sure your friends are covered with medical evac insurance for their next trip 🙂 Safe travels!

  4. All great tip. Doing a local outdoor first aid course is a great idea if you’re living or staying in another country for a while. In Australia there are a whole host of things to be aware of that just didn’t exist in NZ and knowing how to deal with a medical emergency (or just how to remove a leach that some how got in your boot -ewww) makes me feel a whole lot better about being out there.
    Toni | 2 Aussie Travellers recently posted…A day trip to HakoneMy Profile

    • Absolutely – first aid really does vary depending on which country you’re in because there are so many different hazards which you may not have previously been aware of in your home country. So always good to have a basic knowledge, to research the country you’re heading to before hand, and of course be completely covered with insurance which means you’ve got treatment no matter where in the world you are.

      PS HATE Australian leeches lol they’re the devil on camping trips!!

  5. I went on the Inca Trail a year ago and somebody in my group fell ill. It turned out he actually had a condition, and despite that he did not carry any medications with him. The poor porters had to take him all the way down to Aguas Calientes on a stretcher, a full day hike (to then come back to actually serve the group, for which they had been hired). We all felt really bad for the porters and their extra work, especially because all of that could have been avoided by just being a bit more sensible about his illness and planning in advance a little. I have asthma and NEVER travel without my medications or health insurance and knowing first aid definitely helps.
    Claudia recently posted…The top seven things to do in UruguayMy Profile

    • WOW why would you not travel with medication if you have a pre-existing medical condition :O!!! That’s really shocking planning on his part, I would have felt so sorry for the porters as well.

      Just goes to show how vital something like health insurance is as a back-up if you fall victim to your own stupidity!!

    • Absolutely – nature doesn’t care who you are, so no-one should travel unprepared. I actually learnt a thing or two about hypo and hyperthermia when putting together this post as well. You’re absolutely right that these situations specifically are where most get into trouble because of a lack of awareness.

      Thanks for stopping by Betsy!

  6. Taking a first aid class is so important – not only for camping but all kinds of travel. If nothing else, it helps to keep you calm under the stress of the moment, which is worth a lot in an emergency situation. Fortunately we haven’t had any camping emergencies yet but we’re always prepared.

    • Absolutely – we totally advocate for knowledge of first aid in all travel scenarios, it doesn’t apply to strictly camping.

      You’ve hit the nail on the head – the majority of the time it’s for the peace of mind knowing that you have a situation under control – staying calm in an emergency situation is most vital, and stress only makes matters worse.

      Very glad to hear you haven’t yet encountered any emergency situations, and very glad to hear you’re always prepared! Travel safe Vanessa 🙂

  7. Great list. I don’t go camping, but many of your tips are excellent for any travel, especially if you might be driving for long distances.

    • Glad you found the post resourceful Michele. Absolutely the tips here apply to general travel settings beyond camping. Travel safe and enjoy the road!

  8. These are fantastic tips. I keep meaning to do a first aid course. I learnt how to do mouth to mouth… when I was 10!!! I would have no idea how to do it now. We’ve been on so many camping trips with just a first aid kit and honestly I’d have no idea how to use it.

    The Geo insurance – is that just for Americans? Or is it health coverage for anyone on the road? Might need some for Shawn for a longer term visitor visa for Australia (we think we cn get him one for 12 months, so we’ll be back sooner this year if so!), but we need good medical coverage for him.
    jess O’Neill (Meddows) recently posted…Memory Lane Retro Diner BlackheathMy Profile

    • Definitely enroll yourself in a refresher course for first aid – having a kit on you is awesome, and the majority of the time you’ll be able to figure it out through common sense, though definitely much better if you’ve been trained with the know-how for how to use everything inside 🙂

      Health coverage with GEoBlue is for anyone on the road – they’re an international provider who are just based primarily in the US, though they provide coverage worldwide, so highly recommend getting a quote for Shawn’s travel through Aus. Their coverage really is just the most extensive I’ve found, so you’ll be in good hands.

      Shoot Tim at Individual Health an email and let him know we sent you 🙂

    • Even for when you’re camping on a guided tour – always best to have knowledge of first aid and coverage just in case the sherpa’s dont, or there’s a language barrier etc. Always better to be safe than sorry 🙂

  9. We LOVE camping and don’t do it nearly enough. We have a camping bin in our shed ready to go with all of the essentials… or so I thought… we’ve never traveled with a first-aid kit. Thanks for the tips. Looks like we need to stock our bin with some additional and useful supplies!
    Toccara recently posted…Island-Hopping in Trang, ThailandMy Profile

    • Definitely add a first aid kit to that camping bin – might just come in handy one day; hopefully not but it’s always better to be prepared! Happy camping!

  10. We camped a lot as kids. Not so much recently. Although we will read this again before we next go as it’s a great refresher course in camping safety.
    Gran Canaria Local recently posted…Walking in Gran CanariaMy Profile

    • Hope you have the opportunity to get in some more camping in the future – truly is the best way to re-connect with nature and so much fun! Brings back childhood memories for me too 🙂

  11. Though I have yet to camp I appreciate the tips, especially treating hypothermia! All essential items in an emergency of any sort!
    Andrea recently posted…Backpacking Budapest and BeyondMy Profile

    • Absolutely – all of these tips and skills can be translated to all travel situations in general. Glad you found the tips helpful Andrea 🙂 Happy travels!

  12. Great tips! Camping is great fun but it’s always a good idea to take precautions.

    • Glad you enjoyed the post Joe – let us know if you have any other questions!

    • Absolutely – all great tips to take into consideration for an emergency of any sort 🙂

  13. Great advice! We love camping and it’s always good to have some safety reminders like this! Can’t wait for the weather to get warm enough around here so we can get out and start camping again!
    Jenna recently posted…Colorado Skiing at Eldora Mountain ResortMy Profile

    • So glad to hear! Happy Camping Jenna!

  14. I don’t particularly like camping. But I do love the outdoors. I especially like your tips to make camping a better experience. All travelers should have a basic idea about first aid.

    • Absolutely re all travelers having a basic idea of first aid – the above tips definitely apply to all outdoor situations as well 🙂

    • I can imaging that would have been a huge concern up in the arctic circle – I’m glad to hear though that you were prepared and came out unscathed 🙂

    • Absolutely – having a knowledge of first aid is so important for travel in general; so glad you found the tips resourceful even though you’re not an avid camper 🙂 Travel safe!

    • Glad we could help! Happy camping!

  15. Such an important post! Thanks for sharing this great information! Will file for later!

    • Glad to help! Let us know if you need any other tips or advice 🙂

  16. I love to camp. Also a good one would be to research wildlife in the area and always tie up your food! 🙂

    • Absolutely – great tip Alli! We just spent time camping in the Channel Islands and the island foxes were particularly friendly if you had food around!!

    • Glad you found it helpful Peter! And lol totally agree – we sometimes become far too comfortable in our modern environment we forget how to survive outside it!

  17. Great tips and insurance is a good idea for any trip. I always carry a good first aid kit (sister is a nurse so I’m covered for supplies!) but I could do with brushing up on emergency care skills. Thanks for sharing
    Kate recently posted…Warkworth Castle, NorthumberlandMy Profile

    • So glad to hear you’re always packed with a first aid kit Kate – one of the most important things you can pack, especially for camping 🙂

  18. Something I’d like to add about first aid kits… Don’t just buy it and throw it in with the rest of your stuff. Actually open it and familiarize yourself with what’s in it. It would suck to have an emergency and you can’t even get the wrapping off because you’re rushing and fumbling around…
    Vicky and Buddy recently posted…10 Hours In BostonMy Profile

    • Absolutely – fantastic tip Vicky. A first aid kit is no use after-all if you don’t know how to use anything inside it!

    • Only needs to happen the once! Glad you found the post helpful Hannah. Hopefully you won’t find yourself in a situation where you have to use it, though it’s essential to be prepared just in case 🙂

    • Glad you found it helpful – thanks Mary!

    • Let us know if you have any questions, and remember to read the insurance fine print 🙂 And have a great trip!

  19. Such a perfect timing to read this since I will be going on a road trip in few weeks! Camping in the national parks will be our main accommodation for the entire week, so thank you for the tips!
    Stacey Valle recently posted…A Whole New World: Tokyo DisneySeaMy Profile

    • Well I’m glad we could help prepare you! Have a great trip – camping in National Parks is great as you also have the helpful addition of a ranger 🙂 Happy camping!

  20. I have never camped in places where this situation might occur, but you really never know what can happen when it’s just you and the elements. Now I’m even more paranoid about camping! Oyyy thanks though:) Good tips to have handy!
    Bobbi Gould recently posted…15 Unique Travel Quotes To Inspire Your Wanderlust!My Profile

    • Oh no, don’t be paranoid about camping! I promise it’s very very safe – and super fun too 🙂 Just practice common sense when it comes to safety and you’ll be totally fine. It’s generally the places you least expect something to happen when it does, so it’s always a good idea to be prepared 🙂

      Happy camping!

  21. Great advice for anyone going camping, especially in a remote area! It’s important to have a communications plan as well as your basic survival skills mapped out so in the event of an emergency you can act quick! Thanks for sharing.

    • Thanks Brian 🙂 Absolutely – having a plan in place for communications and survival skills is so important – trying to figure out a plan of action on the fly is worst case situation when faced with an emergency.

      Glad you enjoyed the post 🙂
      Meg Jerrard recently posted…5 Reasons You Should Consider Travel Insurance in the USAMy Profile

  22. Ecstatic that I found this blog! Finally, I can now camp with peace of mind that I have camping tips that can help me in case of emergencies. At least, I will be prepared. Thank you! Great work!

  23. Awesome guide. There are definitely threats to safety on any camping trip, whether it be on the outskirts of a city or deep in the wilderness. Ensuring you have the proper tools/knowledge as well as the ability to call the nearest emergency services will make a huge difference if disaster does strike.

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