You can avoid a lot of unnecessary worry if you carefully, methodically prepare your holiday or trip abroad well in advance.
To avoid last minute forgetfulness or carelessness, jot down a list of things to do and keep it in a safe place. With updates and the wisdom you gain from each new travel experience, this same list will serve you year after year.
Here is some practical and general advice to help you prepare your trip:
Subscribe to an assistance contract and take the time to read the general conditions. Don’t hesitate to ask questions about certain clauses that are difficult to understand or are poorly adapted to your particular situation. Your family doctor will be able to explain the contract’s different guarantees. This is a very important point, particularly if you have a specific medical concern or condition (a chronic or recent serious illness, a pregnancy…).
Write down your contract number and the telephone number of your assistance company and keep them on you at all times. And remember to take out an assistance contract for your teenagers if they are travelling alone.
If you have any problem while travelling, don’t wait until you get home to consult a doctor. The regulating doctor of your assistance company is available to discuss any questions or doubts you may have about your health. He/she can provide useful advice, contact your family doctor and organise a consultation wherever you are.
Make an appointment with your family doctor, your dentist and your gynaecologist. Your pharmacist will also be able to advise you about the different prescribed treatments you must follow during your trip. Find out about the health conditions of the countries you will be visiting. Verify and update your vaccinations, and take your vaccination booklet with you.
Prepare your medical kit. If necessary, make photocopies of your recent medical prescriptions and/or your last hospital reports. You might even give a copy of these documents to someone close to you.
In case of a chronic illness or previous or complicated illnesses, ask you doctor to write a medical report, preferably in English, that summarises your situation (previous conditions, description of your illness, results of most recent examinations or tests carried out) and mentions your usual medical treatment and its international denomination.
Never deviate from your habitual treatment, even while flying. Always have your medication on hand and carry a duplicate of your prescription, specifying the international names (DCI) of the medication you are using (for example, the DCI of aspirin is acetylsalicylic acid). This way you can replace it or quickly find its equivalent wherever you are.
Carefully prepare all everyday items you will need during your trip, the kinds of things that could ruin your trip if you left them behind. Don’t forget your eyeglasses, reading glasses and/or contact lenses (plan on taking along a second emergency pair) and, if necessary, your hearing aid and extra batteries.
Your sunglasses should be well adapted to your trip (seaside, mountains, tropics). Chose your sun cream according to your destination, your skin type and a possible allergy. Take along lip protection, a sun cap or hat, and even a wide, long scarf to protect yourself from dust and strong winds.
In case of prolonged seated travel (auto car, road trips…), pack a cervical cushion. Equip yourselves with maps (countries, regions and cities), a compass, a flashlight, extra batteries, a camera and film, and electrical adapters…
And of course the Golden Rule: always carry your passport, banking card (or travellers’ checks or cash) and medication on you. Never put these items in the bottom of your luggage or in the luggage compartment of an airplane.