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Highways, Headaches and Heartburn

What would you do if you fell ill while traveling?

When you’re sick, the only place you want to be in is in your own bed. But if you’re traveling, that’s not an option. How can you start feeling better in an unfamiliar setting? Whether you’re stuck in an airport or traveling abroad, here are tips to get you back on your feet.

Visiting another U.S. city?

What to keep in your bag when you’re away from home

  • Your medical insurance and prescription drug ID cards
  • A supply of your medications in the original containers to last the length of your trip
  • A homemade first aid kit, complete with items you may need
  • Emergency contact card with names, addresses and phone numbers, including a family member and your primary care physician

If you’re traveling and have a medical condition, contact your doctor before you leave. You may need to carry a letter from your physician listing your history and medications. Some health conditions — such as diabetes or heart disease — may require more documentation or extra precautions.

Your first aid kit

  • Pain reliever
  • Bandages
  • Antacid
  • Allergy relief
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Sunscreen
  • Insect repellent
  • Antidiarrheal medicine
  • Motion sickness medication
  • More suggestions about medications

Feeling feverish?

What to do when you feel sick

  • If you’re traveling within the U.S., call the phone number on the back of your medical ID card. Your network provider will provide assistance locating an in-network physician, hospital or urgent care clinic.
  • If you’re traveling internationally, you may need to know the country exit code before you call the phone number on the back of your medical ID card. If you don’t have medical coverage, contact the nearest U.S. embassy for a list of local doctors and medical facilities.
  • If you can’t place a call, log into your account on your network provider’s website. Some give you 24/7 access to health specialists and nurses through an instant chat session or email. Plus, you can access your medical records and find a healthcare provider.
  • Visit your doctor when you return home. Tell your doctor where you were and what symptoms you experienced.

Packing a passport?

How to protect your health when traveling internationally

  • Check your health insurance overseas coverage. Ask if your plan applies when you’re outside the U.S., and whether it covers emergencies like a trip to a hospital or urgent care clinic.
  • Be prepared to pay up-front. Even if your health insurance provides international coverage, overseas providers may require you to pay up-front for care. You can then request reimbursement from your insurance provider when you return.
  • If you’re enrolled in a travel assistance program, keep that ID card with your medical ID card. Such programs may be part of your life insurance coverage and may help with medical emergencies (e.g., medical evacuation, transportation, prescription replacements). Check your documents or call your provider to find out.
  • Research health recommendations and alerts for traveling to your destination. You may need routine, recommended or required vaccinations to visit.

Waiting in airport security?

How to follow TSA requirements when transporting your medications in your carry on

  • Have handy: one bag for all of your medications and your physician’s letter documenting your conditions and prescriptions.
  • Medications will be screened. They don’t have to be in original containers, although that is helpful. Daily dose containers, like pill boxes, are allowed through after screening.
  • Liquid medicine is allowed, but may be subject to volume restrictions.

Learn more about TSA guidelines for travelers with disabilities and medical conditions.

If you’re a GuideStone medical plan participant, visit our International Health Coverage FAQs before your trip to learn about overseas coverage and additional information.

GuideStone Financial Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention welcomes the opportunity to share this general information. However, this article is not intended to be relied upon as medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.