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What to Do if You Get Sick Abroad

Please note: I am not a medical professional and am not providing medical advice. The following content is a catalogue of my own experience and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always consult your physician with before beginning any type of medical treatment, or if you exhibit symptoms of an illness. Never disregard professional medical advice because of something you have read here.

This post contains affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you. All opinions remain my own.

A question I’m often asked is: “What do you do if you get sick while traveling?”

I have a good answer for this now, but I didn’t always.

A Lesson Learned the Hard Way

When Jake and I went on our honeymoon in 2017, we packed for a three-week trip abroad in only one carry-on each. I think it goes without saying, we only brought the essentials. Having asthma and chronic migraines, it was a priority to me to pack my inhaler and my prescription rescue medication for my migraines, and I think I threw some Advil and Band-Aids in there as well. But that was it.

Fast forward to a week into our trip. We had already spent a week in London, and had just arrived in Paris. I started feeling…not great. I had horrible pain in my neck to the point I couldn’t lift my hands higher than my shoulders, and I had caught a really brutal cold.

Our itinerary had us spending our first full day at Disneyland Paris, which I didn’t want to miss, so I pushed through even though I felt horrible. The day, after, though, we cancelled our itinerary for the day because I still felt miserable.

As I rested the next day, Jake headed out onto the streets of Paris. Navigating unknown streets with a language barrier gives you just a glimpse into what an amazing husband I have.

Jake discovered a couple things on his solo adventure:

  1. Instead of having chains such as Walgreens, CVS, etc., as we do in America, the pharmacies in Paris are privately owned. In fact, as it was explained to him, the licensing to obtain a pharmacy can be very competitive.
  2. Pharmacies are easily identifiable by green crosses.
  3. Once a green cross is spotted, though, it can actually signify two types of pharmacies. Unknowingly, Jake walked into a parapharmacie the first time. These establishments contain products such as vitamins, hair care, beauty, and hygiene products. The owner of the parapharmacie kindly explained to Jake that for medications, he desired a true pharmacie, and pointed him in the direction of the closest one.
  4. In the pharmacies, most medications, even non-prescription, are kept behind the counter and you will need to ask for assistance.

While everyone Jake encountered on his little quest was very helpful and he was able to get some pain and cold medicine for me, we learned a valuable lesson: Always be prepared!

Do Your Research

While you are looking for your perfect hotel, booking flights, and filling out your itinerary, there are a couple other important things to look into as you plan your getaway.

  1. Determine the location of the nearest hospital to your hotel.
  2. If traveling outside the country, determine the emergency number for that country.
  3. If traveling outside the country, determine the location of your country’s embassy office.
  4. Determine where to purchase medication, and the closest location to your hotel.

I typically use a simple Google search or Google Maps to find out the information above.

Stock Your Suitcase

Ever since my little Paris debacle, I now pack a little “Wellness Kit” that I throw in my bag for every trip I take. Check out my packing guide below and click on any of the images to shop!

Wellness Kit Packing List

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