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Top Tips for Handling Sickness or Injuries on Your Summer Vacation

Summertime is fast-approaching, and you know what that means. It means fun, sun, and maybe a little trip to the beach. But, what happens if you get hurt or sick while on a trip?

Most people have at least a vague idea of what to do but they’re lacking in details. Here’s how to avoid a total disaster.

When To See The Doctor

If you’re on vacation and you become sick, pay close attention to your symptoms. If you get diarrhea and have a high fever above 102, this is a serious condition. If you have bloody diarrhea, are visiting a high-risk area for malaria, are bitten or scratched by an animal, if you’ve been in a car accident, or have been otherwise seriously injured or are sexually assaulted, go to the doctor immediately.

Not all countries have non-emergency or “fast med” centers available, but most have emergency rooms and facilities – go there.

When to see a doctor. Photo CC by

If You’re Feeling Mildly Under The Weather

If you’re feeling mildly ill, but do not have any symptoms of a serious illness, drink plenty of fluids, consider taking electrolyte tabs (this is a good thing to pack in your travel bag), and get plenty of rest. Many people get sick due to traveler’s diarrhea.

This happens to between 30 and 70 percent of travelers and depends mostly on the country you’re visiting and the quality of the drinking water. The destination and season of travel also affect your susceptibility.

And, even if your boil water that you drink in a foreign country, it may not be enough. Many cases of diarrhea can be traced back to poor hygiene and sanitation in food preparation in countries that do not have strict hygiene standards.

This poor hygiene is thought to account for up to 90 percent of diarrhea cases in travelers visiting foreign countries. Intestinal viruses usually account for between 5 and 8 percent of cases.

Photo CC by Mercy Health

Of the protozoal infections found in travelers, Giardia is, by far, the most common.

Low risk countries are generally the more industrialized ones like the U.S., Canada, Northern and Western Europe, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand. Higher-risk countries are in Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Mexico, and Central and South America. Other countries are intermediate risk and may or may not pose a risk, depending on the season, the city, and individual quality of the food and water you’re consuming.

If You Are Injured

If you’re on vacation and you’re injured, you may have only one choice: go to the emergency room. If you’re in the United States, you should do a few things. First, go to the emergency room if it’s an emergency.

If it’s not, call your doctor, and get a local referral, if possible. Call your health insurance company, and if you believe you were not at fault, you might consider contacting an attorney.

For example, if you’re visiting Las Vegas, and you step out of a casino and trip over an advertisement (sign), you could call a personal injury attorney in Las Vegas to assess whether the casino is at fault.

If You’re Involved In A Natural Disaster

Let’s say you’re visiting the tropics, and a hurricane comes through. You’re totally out of your element. You just wanted to go to the beach. You didn’t want this. Well, it’s on you now, and here’s what to do: if you’re injured, seek medical attention immediately.

Clean any wound or rash immediately with soap and clean water so that it won’t become infected. If the country you’re visiting has no preparations for emergencies, and you know that there is a disaster coming, contact the U.S. embassy. This is something you should actually prepare for prior to your trip so that you have an “escape route” if need be. That’s what the embassy is there for.

If you can’t get to the embassy, or there is an unexpected event like a fire or earthquake, seek shelter.

It’s best to always travel with a basic survival kit, which includes a filter for cleaning non-potable water (these can usually be purchased relatively cheaply state-side and tucked in a small purse or backpack), a first aid kit, and at least 2 ways to make a fire (as long as it’s legal to carry such things in the country you’re visiting), as well as a tool of some kind like a pocket knife or multitool (again, make sure this is legal in the country you’re visiting). Finally, wear a paracord bracelet, which can be unraveled and used for almost any situation that requires a strong rope.

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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.

West Seegmiller has over 30 years experience practicing personal injury law in Nevada and California. He has earned a reputation for being a straight shooter and a zealous advocate for his injured clients.


  1. Hi Meg,

    As a guy who fell pretty ill in a few countries, not too sick but stomach issues in MANY lands, and hellishly sick once in India boy do I vibe with these tips ;)

    1: Drink only bottled water. You can boil tap in places with Western standards, but why bother risking it?

    2: ONLY eat in places that pass the hygiene test. I was burned once in India, and almost bit the big one lol…because I waited too long, after I fell ill, and became dangerously, horrifically dehydrated. I also lost like 15 pounds in 10 days. If you feel really off after 1-2 days guys, go to the doctor’s, or hospital at least. Save yourself some dire circumstances.

    Thanks Meg!


    • Hi Ryan – I remember reading about your stomache issues in a few of your different books – did not sound like fun at all! Though I guess when you travel 365 days out of the year as we do, chances are you’re going to get sick abroad at some point down the road!!

      Excellent tip re the bottled water – and on that note also remember to avoid the ice. Been caught on that one before without even thinking!!

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