Getting injured while on vacation can ruin an otherwise good time. However, injuries abroad can and do happen every day. Anticipating where these injuries may occur and planning for their possibility is the best way for travelers to minimize their impact and safely enjoy a vacation.
Common Causes of Injuries
Crime occurs in countries all over the world. The manner and type of crimes will vary from country to country and city to city. However, one consistent truism is that criminals tend to target tourists. Tourists are vulnerable because they are unfamiliar with the local customs. Tourists are usually easily identifiable, and tourists are in the area temporarily and, as a result, may not be able to stay engaged in a criminal investigation and prosecution.
Tourists can avoid becoming victims of crime by following some basic rules. For example, traveling with friends, avoiding wearing expensive clothing or jewelry, avoiding over intoxication, avoiding traveling at night, staying in public areas, and locking hotel doors and windows can help tourists to stay safe.
Traffic accidents are another typical global occurrence. For tourists, traffic accidents are another unique risk because, while the fundamentals of driving are similar in every country, the drivers’ rules and customs are likely different. For example, London’s sidewalks are covered in paint, directing pedestrians to look right instead of left because oncoming traffic comes from the opposite direction.
Traffic accidents aren’t limited to rented cars, and they also involve bicycles, buses, taxis, pedestrians, and drowsy Uber drivers. Tourists can avoid traffic accidents by staying alert and erring on the side of caution, and yielding the right-of-way.
Other major causes of injuries are related to activities and eating. For example:
- Water activities: swimming, snorkeling, scuba diving, and boating, can result in serious injuries because tourists are less familiar with local water conditions or the activity.
- Food poisoning: getting hurt in a restaurant is another common injury abroad. Improperly prepared food can result in severe food poisoning, which could require hospitalization.
- Allergic reactions: tourists should always carry an EpiPen if they suffer from severe allergic reactions because many foreign countries don’t have the same sensitivities to food allergies as American restaurants.
- Hiking injuries: hiking in a foreign country is another popular activity that can result in serious injuries. The foreign locale may not maintain its hiking trails to the same degree as a tourist may expect, and tourists are likely unfamiliar with local conditions and wildlife.
Tourists can learn more about the country’s healthcare systems they will be visiting by going to the International Society of Travel Medicine, the International Association for Medical Assistance to Travelers, and the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. Some U.S. health insurers also provide telemedicine.
Usually, travel medical insurance doesn’t reimburse the foreign hospital. Rather, the tourist must pay out of pocket and, when they return to the U.S., apply for reimbursement for their costs. The tourist must keep copies of their receipts and proof of medical care to get their reimbursement.