Cape Town - Every year holidaymakers worldwide visit Europe for the summer holidays.
Spain, France and Germany are currently the highest ranking tourist destinations in the world according to this year’s World Economic Forum Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report. The UK, Italy and Switzerland rank in the top ten of the global index.
The continent is a favourite with travellers because of its rich cultural and natural attractions and developed tourism infrastructure.
SEE: How to do a budget Euro trip – and have a unique experience in the process
Before your trip
1. Visit your GP: Schedule an appointment with your physician to make sure you have a clean bill of health before you travel. Get a prescription for any medication you might need while you are away and a doctor’s letter explaining your medical condition and the medication needed for it. Ask your doctor to provide generic names for your medication. Your prescription and doctor’s letter will help minimise any problems at customs.
2. Compile your medical info: Make copies of your prescriptions. For serious medical conditions, make copies of your medical records and have these translated into the language of the country you will be visiting. Medical information could help doctors in your destination get up to speed quickly on your condition in a medical emergency.
SEE: Travel packing for dummies – 5 tough life lessons to learn
3. Pack enough medication: Pack an adequate supply of medication for any pre-existing conditions for the duration of your holiday as some countries may not have your specific medication in stock. Only pack a few over-the-counter medicines such as pain and fever medication, antihistamines or throat lozenges as they are easily available in most major cities.
4. Storing your medication: Pack your medication in your carry-on luggage to avoid the risk of losing it should your luggage get delayed or lost. Certain medicines, such as unopened vials of insulin, are temperature-sensitive and should be packed with carry-on luggage. Most airlines allow passengers to bring medication on board, but you may be required to present a prescription.
5. Check customs regulations: Check the regulations for which medicinal products you can bring into your destination and the quantity of medicines allowed. Different rules may apply in non-EU states such as Switzerland. Keep medication and any medical equipment such as needles and syringes in its original packaging.
6. Review your health cover: Go through the wording of your health insurance policy to make sure you are covered for medical treatment abroad and that there aren’t important exclusions or limitations to the medical care you are insured for. Be prepared to pay out-of-pocket for some procedures as some policies reimburse members after they make a claim for treatment received.
If your current insurance does not include international coverage, consider purchasing medical travel insurance, but keep in mind that it may not cover the treatment of existing conditions or illnesses that began before your trip.
SEE: Countries where you can't afford not to have travel insurance
At your destination
7. Don’t skip medication: It’s easy to forget to take the required dose of medication while on vacation. This could be dangerous for people with chronic conditions. A phone alarm can be used as a reminder to take your medication. Take multivitamins and vitamin C to boost your immune system and to counter any lack of essential vitamins and minerals from your diet.
8. Learn the local lingo: Familiarise yourself with the allergen names in the language of your destination. For example, nuts in German are Nüsse and dairy is Milchprodukte. Download a language app to help you translate other key medical-related words and phrases.
SEE: 6 Essential skills for travelling abroad
9. Save emergency numbers: Save your destination’s numbers for medical emergencies. For EU countries, the number is 112; 144 for Switzerland and 112 or 999 for the UK.
10. Get a medical check-up: Medical check-ups can be combined with sightseeing or shopping trips. A medical check-up can help identify problems even before symptoms show.
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