We can think of very few things that are worse than falling sick during a much-needed vacation. Especially one that is well thought out, months (even years) to plan, not to mention save up! And if you think being left alone in your hotel room with a bad throat infection while the rest of the gang is out Instagramming themselves in the streets of London is bad, wait till you hear nightmare stories of those who were struck with a heart attack or had their appendix bursting on them while in a foreign country!


For instance, in 2016, Mohamad Sahar Mohd Noor, was slapped with a RM250,000 medical bill after suffering a stroke in London. While Malaysian student, Mohd Arif Gamar, had his family scrambling to raise RM35,000 after suffering a ruptured appendix while in Seoul. 

Although there isn’t much you can do to avoid from getting a stroke or appendicitis, you should still take all necessary precautions against the common cold, allergies or even a broken leg. You’ll need it, because the medical cost isn’t going to be like what you are used to in Malaysia. Don’t expect to pay RM 50 – 100 to treat the common cold. The treatment for a few stitches and antibiotics alone at the emergency room in the US and Canada for instance, can cost you over thousands of ringgit.

So if you are making plans to travel soon, here are some tips to help you avoid from getting sick.

Tips to help you avoid from falling sick while traveling:

1. Start from home

It is common that we look forward to the trip so much that we start foregoing our health days and weeks leading to the date. We stretch ourselves to the limit at work hoping to get as much done before the trip. Don’t! Make sure to get enough sleep and boost your immunity a month prior to your travels.

2. Get immunized

Check out WHO’s vaccination requirements and recommendations for the countries that you wish to travel. Should you require a vaccination, do it ahead of time. Some immunization has a side effect that can cause you to run a fever or leave you feeling nauseas. While some need up to 10 days before it can start to protect you. So plan well.

3. Be extra careful with what you eat and drink

Unless you have the immune system of a bull, why take the risk? Drink only bottled water (and plenty of it) and lay off the exotic street foods. There are plenty of other ways to have fun and be adventurous on your holidays, being sick from contaminated food and water is not one of them.

falling sick

Tempting as they may seem, you may be exposing yourself to germs that can cause gastrointestinal infections from these foods.


4. Pack along a first aid kit 

This should go into your hand luggage so you have easy access to them during the flight. Things like paracetamol, hand sanitizer, mosquito repellent, anti-histamine and your favorite brand of minyak angin are some of the necessities you shouldn’t leave home (or hotel room) without.

5. Pack the right clothes and dress appropriately

Make sure you check what the destination’s climate and weather conditions are like so you can pack suitable clothes. Remember: Comfort first, style second. Catching a nasty cold because your stylish new leather jacket is too thin for the cold Swedish winter is no funny matter.

Alas, these are only precautions that can help you from falling sick, they are by no means a guarantee. Although you can bear with a minor flu during your travels, albeit it won’t be as much fun, a more serious ailment however, can completely ruin your vacation, and in some cases, leave your bank account dry.

This is why you should consider buying travel insurance, when you plan for your holidays. 


Sick while traveling? Here’s how travel insurance can help

1. Medical expenses

Scraped a knee or your allergies acting up during your holidays? Your medical expenses for treatment will be covered by your travel insurance. It will even cover the cost for surgical procedures that can go up to hundreds of thousands of ringgit, such as the cases of stroek and appendix rupture mentioned earlier in the article. That’s a huge load off your shoulders.

2. Hospital allowances

If you are admitted to a hospital needing care, travel insurance will pay you daily allowances that you can use to pay for whatever expenses that you may incur during your stay at the hospital. Such as the transportation cost your family may incur during their daily commute to visit you. This can ensure your peace of mind while getting the much needed rest for recovery instead of having to think about how to afford all the extra cost while lying on that hospital bed.

3. Follow-up treatments

After receiving the medical attention for whatever reason abroad, if you still require follow-up treatments when you are already back home, your travel insurance will pay for that cost too. People usually neglect the importance of follow-up check-ups and treatments to avoid the additional cost. In this case, it is all taken care of.

For instance, Tokio Marine’s travel insurance plan allocates up to RM30,000 for follow-up treatment.  With such coverage, one no longer needs to worry about missing these vital check-ups due to financial constraint.

4. Emergency medical evacuation and repatriation

Imagine having a heart attack while vacationing on a remote island. Getting to the nearest hospital may require more than just an ambulance on wheels. Travel insurance will cover the cost for transporting you to the nearest adequate medical facility which may involve a helicopter with the right equipment on board. And at times when it is deemed necessary for the patient to return home for care, known as medical emergency repatriation, travel insurance will cover that cost too.

Tokio Marine’s Travel Partner plan pays up to RM1,000,000 just for this.

falling sick

Medical evacuation can rake up to hundreds and thousands of dollars.


5. Compassionate care

The last thing you want when you’re sick in a foreign country is being all alone. Travel insurance’s Compassionate Care takes care of that by offering a fixed amount of money so that someone can be there to take care of you. This money can help pay for their flight ticket as well as accommodation so you need not be alone.

Although getting sick is a part of everyday life, being abroad increases the risk as you are exposed to a whole new range of bugs and germs as well as unfamiliar climates and environment. So exercise precaution by:

  1. Taking care of your health prior to your trip
  2. Getting the right immunization
  3. Being extra careful with what you eat and drink
  4. Packing along a first aid kit
  5. Pack the right clothes and dress appropriately

To take it a step further, protect yourself from the high medical treatment cost in a foreign country by purchasing travel insurance plan in advance. It can be a real life saver.